About Mountaineering | Precaution in Mountaineering | Essential Skills | Common Terms

About Mountaineering

Mountaineering is an upcoming adventure sport. It is based on three pillars namely Adventure, Discipline and Co-Operation. It is a very thrilling experience if care is taken to ensure proper execution and teamwork. It gives immense pleasure and tremendous self-satisfaction. A mountaineer is introduced to the pleasure derived from reaching a mountaintop, views of exotic scenery, close study of a wide variety of flora, fauna etc in the ecosystem, and many more aspects of Nature & hence becomes one with them. It is truly a boon to us since we can develop a bond with nature.
In the year 1857, the Alpine Club was established in London and this could be considered as the start of mountaineering as a sport. Slowly newer places were discovered in the quest to be the best. The world’s highest peak, Mount Everest (Nepal) was scaled by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and that sparked off a race among the mountaineers to find newer avenues. The first ever, Indian Expedition to Everest was completed under the leadership of Capt. M. S. Kohli in 1965 and first Indian Lady to scale it was Bacchindra Paul. Although many peaks have been scaled quite a few times, but there are still many more peaks to be scaled and routes to reach them are still untouched.
Mountaineering is the unblemished adventure, for the body and soul. It is an endeavor to reach the vault of heaven, and explore the sprit of fantasy. India offers a vital range of mountaineering opportunities on its challenging peaks - the climber enthusiast can indulge in this romantic adventure in mountain ranges of Ladakh, the Nun-Kun Massif, in Jammu and Kashmir, in hills of Manali in Himalayas and Uttranchal.
The Nature has graced Maharashtra with the Sahyadris. The Historical, Geographical, Political and Social picture of people in Maharashtra would be incomplete without considering the impact of the Sahyadris. The concept of “Hindavi Swarajya” was born in its valleys. Chattrapati shivaji Maharaj used the natural strength of the Sahyadris to defeat a strong enemy with the army, which stood manifold, outnumbered his men by a great margin.
The Sahyadris act as a nursery for mountaineers before proceeding further. Surendra Chavan, the first Maharashtrian to scale the Everest, was highly inspired by the heroics of the mountaineers in the Sahyadris. Regular trekkers in the Sahyadris know well about the book “Trek the Sahyadris,” penned by Harish Kapadia (Awarded Patron's Medal of the world-renowned Royal Geographic Society in 2003). While receiving The Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award for 2003 & 2004 at the hands of President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, for lifetime achievement; he said that the honour is not mine alone, it is tributed to my experience in the Sahyadris.


Precaution in Mountaineering

Anyone can follow the sport irrespective of age, sex, capacity etc. The aim is to stretch one’s limits & keep pushing even in the face of adversity. There is no limit to the group but one should keep in mind the type and difficulty level and then choose the number to suit the activity. Generally a group of 8-10 with an experienced leader is advisable, also it is really very helpful if the spot and route are known to at least a few of them. They use a special bag called Rucksack, which is comfortable to carry heavy loads. Generally the duration, location and number of members decide the equipments and food material to be carried but a few items that should be available irrespective of the nature of the activity are:

  1. Water Bottle
  2. Cap
  3. Trekking Shoes
  4. Ready to eat foodstuff
  5. Medicines for personal use
  6. Notebook & Pen

If the activity is more than a day long, the list lengthens, also keep in mind the weather

  1. Torch
  2. Extra Clothing
  3. Plate
  4. Bowl
  5. Knife
  6. Soap
  7. Brush & Paste
  8. Handkerchief
  9. Slippers etc

Drink lots of water, whenever possible & available in large quantity. If dehydrated mix sugar & salt or Electral powder before drinking the water. Also keep a first aid kit compiled under the guidance of a Doctor.
Make sure that you know the schedules and timetables in case of Train & Bus Travel. If possible, make the reservations well in advance. Decide the route beforehand since various routes might be possible. Take care not to be fooled by cattle path, prefer a proper pathway. Proper planning is the basis of a successful trek. The speed should not be too slow or too fast either, use smaller steps. In the beginning the breathing becomes difficult uphill, but gradually with practice & experience, the steps can be synchronised with the breathing. Before starting the trek, the first man and last man should be decided and nobody should go anywhere without the permission of the Group Leader. In spite of proper planning, do not overlook safety; take care while walking to avoid any minor possibility of accidents.


Essential Skills

Before you tackle the big mountains, you'll need to test your skills on molehills.
The first most essential skill the perquisite of mountaineering is your physical fitness that will tell you the amount of fun you will be driving while climbing. Before challenged climbing, workout routines should be frequent and rigorous. To maintain your cardiovascular fitness, try walking with a loaded haversack, running, biking, swimming, climbing of stairs and cross-country skiing. For upper-body strength, try push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and indoor climbing.
Acquire the skills of mountaineering from an experienced mountaineer or certified guiding service. If you are going for your first climbing go for basic mounting techniques that includes signals, belaying, anchor systems, and climbing protection, basic rope management, useful climbing knots, and most important, basic wilderness survival.
Ambitious peak-beginner with better rock-climbing skills might try to start with steeper, more technical and less snowy beginner mountains. Beginner-peak climbs typically take one or two days, there are climbing schools offering multi-day mountaineering courses with their climbs.
With a couple of technical beginner peaks under your belt, try going for much harder expedition peaks, that needs longer walks and minimum of a week climbing.
At the top of the mountaineering pyramid are the Himalayan giants that exceed 8,000m /26,246 feet in altitude, of these majestic mountains, only Everest are constantly served by commercial outfitters, which accommodate unskilled climbers.
Along with Mountaineering, many allied activities can be carried out such as Astronomy, Bird, Animal & insect Watching, study of plants and Geology, History etc. Moreover, Beautiful photographs taken will prove to be a collection of lifetime…


Common Terms

Anchor or Protection: A fixed support on the mountain terrain that holds the weight of a climber while falling or descending.
Belay:  Various techniques used by a rope climber to have a control while descending.
Carabiner:  A metal snap-link used for attaching the rope to an anchor.
Crampons:  Metal boot attachments with numerous spikes that render adhesive friction on slippery snow and ice.
Rappel:  A controlled slide down through anchored rope.
Sling:  Nylon tubular webbing with its ends either fastened or professionally sewn together making a loop used to attach an anchor.