10 Things You Should Know Before Becoming a Mountaineer

Posted by in Ambassador, Deuter USA Blog Posts

So you want to be a mountaineer. I bet you’ve seen amazing pictures of epic ascents of Himalayan peaks. You’ve probably watched a reality show or two starring a survival expert. Maybe you’ve even gone on some pretty sweet hikes yourself. But do you really know what it’s like to be a mountaineer?

Here’s 10 things you need to know before you commit to the lifestyle.

Two young mountaineers climbing with Deuter packs

1. The weather will not always be perfect.

In your heart you already know this, but since most of the pictures and videos we see are of blue skies and just the right temperature it’s easy to think it’s always that way. Nope. If you wait for that weather you’ll never get outside. Get ready for half your trips to be in lousy weather.

2. Climbing a mountain is not a walk in the park*.

Climbing mountains is hard. When you stand at the bottom you’re going to look up and reconsider the decisions that brought you to that point in your life.

3. The summit is only half way.

At least once you’ll use every reserve you have to get to the top only to realize you have to go back down.
A young mountaineer sliding down the hill.

4. You’re going to be scared at some point in the trip or you’re not trying hard enough.

Epic trips should have at least a hint of fear in them. Maybe you’re kicking steps in the snow across a steep slope with a long, long runout. Fear should make you kick a little harder to ensure that step will hold.

5. There will be times you want to turn back.

When you realize you’re standing on the false summit and the true summit is another 1,000 feet of climbing, you will think about how much nicer it would be to be at home.

6. You’re going to get lost.

Your GPS will run out of batteries, your map will disintegrate in the rain, and the fog will roll in. Your best bet will be to retrace your steps or wait it out.

Two young mountaineers making their way through fog. 7. It’s going to be painful.

Blisters, bruises, cuts, sunburns, and frostbite. And that can all be on one trip!

8. You’re going to have to learn all kinds of new words and terms.

Adze. Arête. Cairn. Glissade. HAFE. Rime. (Yes, they’re all real words.)

9. You’re going to fight with your partners.

Good mountaineers have strong relationships with their partners because they have to trust them with their lives. Relationships like that are made during tough times.
Having fun is key to being a mountaineer.

10. And finally, it’s probably too late.

If you’re still reading this list you’re probably already in love with the mountains and no amount of reality or warning is going to put you off. So grab your pack, grab your boots, and go climb your mountain.

* Technically, climbing Mount Rainier is a walk in the Park.

About John Soltys & Family

John Soltys & Family

John is a father, husband, adventurer, and (good guy) hacker and insists the order of those titles is important. He and his family (wife Amy; three kids Clara, Lillian, and Henry; and dog Treen) live in the mountains east of Seattle where they are surrounded by nature and have easy access to both the wet and dry sides of Washington. John spends 100 days a year adventuring, half of that with the family. The kids are now at an age where they can tackle serious terrain and carry their own gear. Hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, snowshoeing and fly fishing just got a lot more adventurous. John writes at moosefish.com and spends his days reducing IT security risk in Seattle.