Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and get active! And as this summer begins to wind down, many people want to squeeze in as much time in the great outdoors as possible. If you’re the adventurous type, you might enjoy mountain climbing. Not only is mountain climbing the perfect way to enjoy beautiful views, but it’s also a rigorous workout that can keep you in shape and challenge your physical limits. At the same time, it’s important to remain safe while engaging in this activity.
However, mountain climbing comes with a certain degree of danger. In fact, the REI Co-op journal cites various instances where climbers were seriously injured. Their article, “Top 5 Takeaways from Accidents in North American Mountain Climbing 2017,” reveals that “there were more than 150 accidents – and this only includes those accidents that were actually reported, including failure to self-arrest on snow, failure to tie stopper knots in the ends of ropes before rappelling or lowering, and inadequate preparation or experience for a given route” (rei.com).
Sadly, some of these accidents end in tragedy. Although the chances of being killed while rock climbing is relatively low, fatal accidents do happen. For instance, therockulus.com cites that a “2017 report recorded 38 climbing-related deaths in North America in the previous year. If we extrapolate 30 deaths per 5,000,000 North American Climbers to the estimated global total of 25,000,000 climbers, we could see around 150 climbing-related deaths per year” (How Many People Die Rock Climbing?).
Fortunately, despite the risks, most mountain climbing safety and successfully engage in climb after climb, with no incident. What’s more, mountain climbing can be an absolutely incredible experience!
Tentree International extols the wonderful benefits of the mountain climbing experience. Just to touch on a few benefits, consider:
- The amazing camaraderie you’ll establish by spending time with interesting people;
- Your ability to cultivate an appreciation for nature;
- Increased awareness of and the desire to protect our earth; and
- The ability to remain flexible in constantly changing circumstances and situations.
August is the perfect month to embark on a new challenge, with enthusiasts celebrating National Mountain Climbing Day on August 1. So, if you’re feeling adventurous and are planning on taking part, make sure you’re as prepared – and safe – as possible with the following tips:
Even if you’re a highly independent person, this is one time that you do not want to travel solo. If something happens during the hike that immobilizes you, having another person with you can provide peace of mind and critical assistance. Plus, having another person along to help with equipment and difficult terrain is an invaluable advantage.
Get the Right Gear
Don’t skimp on your gear. This doesn’t mean that you need to purchase the most expensive equipment on the market. However, it does mean that you should be sure to research each item you need for your hike. Read reviews and read the specs on your equipment with an eye for safety.
Footwear is extremely important, too. You’ll want to purchase boots with adequate ankle support and a decent tread. And don’t make the first time wearing the boots the day of a climb. Rather, break them in by wearing them frequently in the weeks leading up to your excursion. Consider comfort as well. While you may love the look of those climbing boots, you might think twice if every reviewer claims they cause blisters! In addition to proper footwear, moisture-wicking socks will help prevent blisters. It’s also a good idea to bring along extra socks in the event that you need a clean, dry pair.
Carry a canteen or water bottle that will allow you to stay hydrated. If possible, carry a backup supply of water in the event that your climb takes longer than you anticipated – or in case you get lost.
Carry “Just-in-case” Items with You
Stock your backpack with items that would come in handy in the event of an emergency, getting lost, etc. Here’s a small sample of items to consider carrying with you:
- First aid items (Band-Aids, bee sting kit, etc.)
- Rescue blanket
- Extra water
- Trail mix, granola bars, and other food with a healthy amount of protein to maintain your blood sugar (and energy) levels
- Rain poncho
- Blister Band-Aids
Timing is Everything
Research your route in advance to minimize your chances of getting lost. Also, know how long the hike should take. Ideally, leave first thing in the morning to give yourself plenty of daylight should anything go wrong. It’s equally important to know when to turn around. By giving yourself adequate time and turning around at an appropriate time, you’ll have enough energy to make the return trek.
Obviously, you will need to take your current fitness level into account when making these decisions. Of course, if you are extremely out of shape, you’ll want to embark on a fitness program to increase your cardiovascular fitness before taking on a mountain climb!
Take the Silent Beacon Along for the Hike
The Silent Beacon Personal safety device is a small, Bluetooth-enabled device that allows you to summon help with the press of a button. Simply clip the Beacon on a keychain, or drop it into your pocket or backpack.
In the event of an emergency, press the button on the device, which you can pair with the free Silent Beacon app. Triggering the alert means that messages will be pushed out to all of your pre-stored contacts (including 911) as a text message, phone call, and/or email.
Once emergency personnel receives your alert, they can quickly locate you in real-time via GPS technology. You also have the option to enable two-way voice communication, so you can speak with your primary contact as you wait for help to arrive.
By following these mountain climbing safety tips – and with the Silent Beacon – your climbing group will never be alone . . .and help is only as far away as the push of a button.
Now, go out and enjoy your hike this August 1!