Man's search for new and exciting challenges has led him to some of the most unforgiving places on the planet. Mountaineering is a popular activity and those who indulge in it often argue that nothing beats the adrenaline rush or seeing the sunrise when you are 16,000 feet above everything else. If you're looking to get into mountaineering and find out for yourself what is all the fuss about, there is a couple of things you need to know. 

1. A Test Of Body And Mind

Experienced climbers claim that besides the promise of ultimate freedom you might find something else while making that crucial step on a steep slope. They describe climbing as a very difficult but spiritual experience where one can really find a sense of inner self, however, in order to not literally lose yourself, proper body and mind preparations are necessary. 

Climbing high mountains requires excellent physical fitness so getting into shape is very important. Before you embark on your journey, dedicate at least two months to exercise. Focus on building endurance instead of bulky muscles because they won't do you much good when fatigue comes into play.

Mental preparation is just as important as building a strong and lean body. When the body fails, the mind is what pushes through and keeps you going. Find something that motivates you, like a solid reason why you want to reach the summit. Set a goal and focus on it. Remember, the mountain is going to test you in more than one way so having mental control and motivating yourself is key.

2. Know Your Basics

To pass the time while exercising on the treadmill, you can study basic survival skills that can indeed come in handy when mountaineering. Read about how to assemble a tent, build a campfire, use a compass, what to eat and what definitely not to eat. Cover these and other related outdoor survival methods and you'll have a basic understanding of what it takes to survive in the wild for a couple of days. 

3. Learn To Climb Indoors

Not starving to death is one thing but actually making it to the top is a completely different story. Visit an indoor climbing facility, better known as a climbing gym, and experience at first hand what it means to hang on by the fingernails. Here you will learn how to use a harness, what's the purpose of a carabiner, what's belaying and other basic climbing techniques. Tying a knot might sound simple and trivial but you will want to know as much as possible about your own personal safety. You'll notice that the holds on the climbing wall are marked with a certain color. Each color represents a guide or a route that you can solely use to get to the top. For example, the red color might represent a more difficult route than green. Start out with the easiest route and slowly progress towards the most difficult one.

4. Taking One Steep Step At A Time

As you may have noticed, we emphasize on preparation and gradually getting ready to start your mountaineering adventure. Sort of sounds like slowly climbing a mountain from the base to the summit, right? 

So what you want to do first is find easy hiking trails near your location and start doing them on a regular basis. What qualifies as an easy hiking trail you might ask? A well-marked route that usually takes somewhere between 2 to 8 hours to complete. 

From there on continue by extending your hikes and planning longer trips. Pack your backpack with only the necessary items and try spending multiple days in the wild. This way you advance from hiking - which should be shorter trails that are usually done on flat or mildly step terrain, to trekking - which is not as different regarding difficulty as it is regarding the time it takes to finish.

5. Having The Right Mountaineering Gear

So you got your basic survival skills down, you've spent hours and hours at the indoor climbing gym, and you've completely memorized all the hiking trails in the proximity of 700 miles. You're finally ready for the next step, but before you ascend and take your rightful role as the king of the hill, you're going to need all the necessary gear.

As Mountaineering is more advanced than hiking or trekking, it also requires the most advanced gear. 

Without going into too much detail, here's a list of the required gear:

Helmet – It will keep your head on straight. Sturdiness is important but make sure it's also well ventilated.

Shirt and Shell Jacket - It gets cold 16,000 feet above sea level. Make sure they are made of high-quality materials, the jacket should be water and wind resistant.

Ice climbing gloves - Keeping those fingers warm and cozy is important. Skip the cheap ones and aim for quality.

Long underwear and Shell pants - Layers and layers of insulation will keep your body warm. Pants should be made of nylon and polyester and have sufficient ventilation and pockets.

Gaiters and Boots - The last thing you want is snow and water getting into your boots. Don't try saving money on boots and go all out in finding a comfortable and weather resistant pair. Skip the visual appeal and aim for functionality.

Rope and Climbing harness - Low quality equates to a higher risk of danger.

Ice Axe and Ice Tools - Essential piece of equipment when navigating steep slopes.

Belay device - Used to control a rope during belaying.

Crampons - Spikey and great for keeping you stable on icy terrain.

These are just some essential pieces, for a more in-depth guide, check out this mountaineering gear list by Gear Hub.


New beginnings are always tough but rewarding. Hopefully, this guide has made it that much easier for you and brought you one step closer to exploring the unparalleled beauties of the vertical world. Best of luck in your first ascent and may you find whatever you are looking for.