Snow and rain can come out of nowhere in the mountains. A bright blue sky with plenty of sunshine can turn to drastic conditions in a matter of minutes. Wind can rise to levels you didn’t think were possible on planet earth. Avalanches and mudslides can prevent you from finishing your climb. Even during the summer in many places the weather can be absolutely unpredictable. You need to prepare for any possible weather condition on a given trail, including proper clothing and equipment.
Altitude sickness is a sneaky little devil that can arise out of nowhere. You will quickly notice that the air is thinner and your breath a bit shorter. This is normal. Full on altitude sickness results in headaches, nausea, vomiting, and other side affects that make you feel like a train has hit you. It can literally come out of nowhere even if you have been in high altitudes before or been there for a few days. In the Andes Soroche pills, as well as chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea, are said to keep off the effects of altitude sickness. The only proven cure for altitude sickness is to go to a lower altitude.
To prepare for altitude you will need to acclimatize. Upon your first arrival in a high altitude destination you should take it easy for a few days, using only moderate amounts of energy.
Mountaineering is a dangerous activity and many lose their lives every year. Tragedy is often because of the unpredictability of the weather, but also because of the carelessness of the climber. Being lost or injured in the middle of a blizzard or even on a sunny day can prove disaster. Not using proper equipment resulting in falling into a crevasse or off a cliff does happen. Flares and smoke signals that can be seen for miles around when lit can also help alert help. Checking in with base camp regularly via cell phones and walkie-talkies is extremely important. Someone should always know that you are up on a mountain. This way if the timing of your return is off, even slightly, a rescue operation will come looking for you.
Mountaineering is an extremely physical activity that you need to be in the utmost physical condition to even attempt. You will burn a tremendous amount of calories will battling the elements and using every bit of physical strength to keep trudging forward. If you are not properly prepared to climb in extreme locations, you will quickly confront the effects of sore muscles, blisters, nausea, dizziness, and altitude sickness. Some may get to a point on the trail where they become too tired to go on or go back. It’s a dangerous game that no one should play if they are not prepared. Consult with your doctor before any big climb. All it takes is a bad burrito and a case of diarrhea to end your time on a mountain. Every precaution against normal travel ailments should be taken.
Food and Water
Conserving and refilling your energy is one of the most important aspects of mountaineering. Water often comes from melted snow or from streams, usually via a small filter. You will need to carry more than enough food than you expect in case of an emergency. Food high in carbohydrates and pre-packaged meals that weigh only a few ounces each before water is added can be a lifesaver. Energy bars are good too.