How to Learn Mountain climbing

how does mountain climbing work and how much does mountain climbing gear cost and how to choose mountain climbing shoes, how to use mountain climbing gear
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Prof.SteveBarros,United Kingdom,Teacher
Published Date:28-07-2017
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Mountain Climbing School Manual A Free and Public Domain Introduction to Mountaineering Technique from the Santiam Alpine Club www.SantiamAlpineClub.org Quick Quiz A carabiner is: A person who lives in the Caribbean An oblong metal ring with a spring clip Find the answer on a following page. Copyleft: Distributing verbatim copies of the Mountain Climbing School Manual is permitted. Changes are not permitted. In no event shall the Santiam Alpine Club or the contributors be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages, or any damages whatsoever, arising from use of, or in connection with, the Mountain Climbing School Manual.Climbing Safety Depends On You Mountaineering techniques develop and vary from a few fundamental techniques. As an introductory text, the Mountain Climbing School Manual presents basic techniques. Readers will develop their own variations of the techniques as they gain experience. Besides advanced techniques, wider aspects of mountaineering safety are not covered like the most common way to die in the wilderness, hypothermia. The Mountain Climbing School Manual introduces only a single aspect of climbing safety, mountaineering techniques. Prospective mountaineers should expect years of learning subjects like alpine weather, snow and rock conditions, route finding and first aid. Accidents resulting in injury and death do occur in outdoor activities. Mountaineering, hiking and other outdoor activities are dangerous. Responsible climbers accept the risk of such activities and undertake them on their own responsibility. Before joining an activity, responsible climbers know the hazards and judge for themselves if they have the knowledge, practiced skills and physical condition to participate safely. Before leaving for an activity, responsible climbers let someone know their planned destination, route and return time. During an activity, responsible climbers participate as safe team members by remaining alert for, and vocal about, potential dangers. In regard for the benefits of climbing with others, responsible climbers release other participants from claims that might arise on account of a negligent act or failure to act. In case of accident, illness or other incapacity, responsible climbers understand they will pay their own evacuation and medical expenses, whether or not authorized by themselves. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 2Equipment Many techniques depend on a few pieces of core equipment in combination with a climbing rope: One locking carabiner Two regular carabiners Two prusik slings or loops, one long enough to reach from your waist to the ground, the second sling half as long as the first sling A waist harness, either a manufactured harness or one you made yourself from about 20’ of 1” or larger tubular webbing For any situation where you could fall or where rock or ice could fall on you: A helmet with a chin strap For snow and ice climbs: An ice ax For any situation, whether on rock or firm snow, where the edge of the boot will be used to support your weight: Sturdy, waterproof boots For ice and hard snow climbs: Crampons (fitted to the boots before the climb) And then there is equipment that should be on any trip into the wilderness, sometimes called the ten essentials, although both the exact number and the items themselves vary: For an unexpected stay overnight, rain gear, extra clothes, extra food, waterproof matches, fire starter and perhaps a cell or satellite phone to keep others informed For finding your way in low visibility or after dark, a flashlight, map and compass, perhaps a GPS (global positioning system) For sun protection, sun glasses, sunscreen and appropriate clothing Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 3Rope Care Climbers depend on ropes for safety. Know some rope do’s and don’ts. Do not walk on or stand on the rope, especially when wearing crampons. Do not use ropes for purposes other than climbing. Do not subject ropes to undue strain or wear, like bouncing on a rappel rope or positioning the rope over a sharp edge when a less sharp position is nearby. Do not use a rope in a situation it is not designed to handle. Large diameter ropes, 10.5 mm and larger, are for rock and ice climbs. Smaller diameter ropes are for snow climbs. Small diameter ropes can be doubled to use them where large diameter ropes are required. Do know the history of a rope’s use. Discontinue use of ropes that are worn or are known to have taken a number of hard falls. Do loosely coil ropes for storage and hang them in a dry place. Do not store ropes on a potentially damp surface, like cement. Do not leave ropes tightly coiled. Do keep ropes away from solvents, oils, stoves, fire and heat. Do wash soiled ropes and hang them to dry. Weather Mountains make their own weather, so conditions can change rapidly and be severe. If you do not like the weather when climbing, then wait ten minutes. If you are still not injured as a result of the weather, then things are going great, right? Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 4Knots The figure-eight and the bowline are used for the same purposes, for example, to tie the main rope into the harness. The bowline is rarely used because the figure-eight is easier for most people to inspect visually to verify it is tied correctly. The fisherman’s knot is used to tie small ropes, like a prusik rope, into a loop. A simple overhand knot is preferred to the fisherman’s knot when tying large ropes together, for example, to create a long rappel rope. The prusik knot is used to tie a prusik loop to the main rope. When tight the prusik knot will not slide on the main rope. When loose it will slide. For this reason the prusik is used to create a movable anchor point on the main rope. Be aware the prusik knot is not self-tightening. The prusik rope will burn through quickly if allowed to slide on the main rope while loaded with weight. The water knot is used to tie tubular webbing into loops. The water knot looks like an overhand knot except that the second end of webbing is traced backwards through the first overhand knot. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 5Harnesses Although seat harnesses are commercially available, sometimes it is important to know how to make a harness from 1” or larger tubular webbing. Two variations on seat harnesses are shown here. Chest harnesses are also commonly used for glacier travel. In a rescue situation the rescuer might need to create harnesses for the back, neck and head. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 6Belay Belay leverages an anchor to protect a climber against a fall. The climber controls the belayer through standardized belay commands. Climber: On belay? Belayer: Belay is on Climber: Climbing Belayer: Climb Climber: Up rope Belayer: No verbal response Climber: Tension Belayer: No verbal response Climber: Slack Belayer: No verbal response Climber: Fall Belayer: No verbal response Climber: Off belay Belayer: Belay is off For many commands the belayer does not give a verbal response. Compliance with the command is obvious to the climber when the rope is taken up, made tight or given slack as directed. Static belay, mostly used on rock and vertical ice, is when the brake is held fast against a fall. Dynamic belay, mostly used on snow and ice slopes, is when some rope is allowed to slide as the brake is gradually applied to bring the fallen climber to a stop. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 7Belay Operation The only way to learn and stay proficient at belay operation is to practice and, when out of practice, practice more. Operating a belay is illustrated here for the sitting-hip belay. The first measure of trust among climbers is, “Is this a person I would trust to belay me?” A Tale of Two Genders Three climbers, two men and a woman, were hiking the approach to a mountain when they came upon a stream. The first man prayed, “God, give me the strength to cross the stream.” The man’s arms bulged out. His legs bulged out. After admiring his improved muscles the man jumped in and swam across the stream. The second man thought he could better the first. He prayed, “God, give me the tools to cross the stream.” A small boat and oars appeared. After a considerable time examining the excellent tools, the fine boat and oars, the man set off and rowed to the other side. The woman, unimpressed as usual, prayed, “God, give me the intelligence to cross the stream.” A map appeared on a nearby boulder. After examining the map, the woman hiked upstream a couple hundred yards and crossed on the foot bridge. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 8Rock Climbing Many Pacific Northwest mountains require rock climbing competence. Boots or even sneakers are sufficient for many routes. More difficult routes require tight-fitting specialized climbing shoes with sticky rubber soles. Legs are stronger than arms. Use legs for upward motion and arms primarily for balance. For security, keep three points on the rock at all times, for example, two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. Use as many fingers as possible, which might require finger stacking. Use an undercling grip on overhanging features. If the rock has cracks wide enough to accept a hand or fist, then use jams where a hand is inserted and then flexed or twisted to secure the hold through outward pressure on the rock. Use the friction of the boot’s sole whenever possible, a technique called smearing. Smearing involves getting as much of the surface area as possible against the rock to maximize friction. Use the side of the foot or the edge of the boot to edge on holds and rock features. In larger cracks, foot jams are sometimes used, either singly or in combinations. Dynamic opposition is the application of opposing forces to stay in place. The undercling hand technique works because the legs and feet are pushing upwards. Pressing legs outward against rock features is called stemming or bridging. A layback involves pulling on handholds in a crack while pushing against an adjacent rock wall with the feet. Various chimney climbing techniques all involve pressing outward on both chimney walls to maintain position and move upwards. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 9Rappelling Rappelling uses friction against a rope to descend faster than could be done by climbing down. Unlike in the movies, in the mountains climbers slowly walk down a pitch without bouncing. An arm rappel works well on slopes (not verticals) when the climber has on multiple layers of clothes. There are many rappelling devices in addition to the figure-eight shown. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 10Protecting Rope A fixed line and a running belay are two similar methods for protecting a rope. In a fixed line both the rope and anchors remain stationary while the climbers travel the length of the rope. In a running belay only the anchors remain stationary while the rope and climbers travel. With a fixed line all the climbers must have two prusik slings to pass anchors without disconnecting. With a running belay, only the middle climbers must have extra gear to pass anchors. Although illustrated here for rock climbing, both techniques are also used for snow and ice. Frequently on snow and ice slopes all climbers in a running belay will be in motion simultaneously, which makes for safe, fast travel. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 11Snow Climbing The ice ax is part of a way of walking on sloped terrain called self-belay. First, plant the axthe shaft in snow, the pick in icethen move each foot once, then repeat. Do not move the ice ax while the feet are in motion or move the feet while the ax is in motion. Quick Quiz When someone on your rope team falls, you should: a) Throw yourself into self-arrest b) Run down the mountain to see if you can head them off c) Stay where you are and, if possible, plant your ice ax deeper Find the answer on the next page. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 12Self-belay When someone on your rope team falls you should stay where you are and, if possible, plant your ice ax deeper. Protect the position of the ice ax. In snow do not allow the ice ax shaft to be pulled past vertical. In ice try to hold the ax pick in the position as it was planted. If the ax was not planted at the moment of the fall, then attempt to plant it quickly. In general the pull of the rope will be resisted best while in a prone position, as illustrated on this page. Climbers should practice hitting a prone position in response to a fall. However, there are some circumstances where keeping your feet where they are is the more secure position. The harness can be connected to the ice ax shaft with a loop of tubular webbing or prusik rope tied with a girth hitch. The girth hitch will ride up and down the ax shaft. In the event of a fall, the webbing will provide a secure connection from the climber to the ice ax. Another alternative is a wrist strap. Quick Quiz When pulled off your feet and falling down the mountain, you should: a) Throw yourself into self-arrest b) Practice hot-dog stunts Find the answer on the next page. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 13Self-arrest Self-arrest is the appropriate technique when falling or when pulled off one’s feet by the rope. However, self-arrest does not work well in the following situations: Snow slopes greater than forty degrees (the degree will vary with snow conditions) Most ice slopes In conditions where self-arrest will not work the rope must be protected with anchors. The final self-arrest position is illustrated here, the ice ax diagonal beneath the chest with the chest pushing down the ax handle. The feet form a tripod with the chest and push weight onto the chest and the ax. As with operating a belay, instinctively going into self-arrest will only be achieved by those who practice. Climbers should practice self-arresting from multiple sliding positions: Feet first on the back Head first on the stomach Head first on the back Self-arrest is difficult even in the best conditions because falling climbers accelerate and, when moving fast enough, bounce. The sooner falling climbers get into the self-arrest position, the better chance they have of getting slowed down and stopped safely. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 14Glacier Travel Two common hazards on glaciers are falling rocks and crevasses that can not be seen because they are covered with snow or ice. On glaciers and snow pitches of less than forty degrees, rope teams of three or more persons can travel safely without placing protection. The rope should be kept perpendicular to crevasses even if that means the team members travel side by side. Options on steep snow and ice are to, 1) place anchors for a running belay (fastest), 2) place a fixed line, and 3) have a leader belay the other climbers to each anchor point (slowest). In the third case, as in rock climbing, two-person rope teams can make reasonable time by changing the lead with each length of the rope. Minimize potential fall distance and, therefore, fall velocity by keeping the rope as tight as allows unencumbered walking. On flat terrain, where self-belay is not convenient, try to hold a fall while still standing. Only go into self-arrest after being pulled off your feet. On steep snow, where self-belay can be employed with each placement of the ice ax, try to hold a fall while in self-belay. Only attempt self-arrest after the ice ax has been pulled from the self-belay position. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 15Crevasse Rescue First, set an anchor system (setting anchor systems involves advanced techniques not covered in the Mountain Climbing School Manual). Second, communicate with the fallen climber. Lower warm clothing or warm water if needed Rappel to or be lowered to an unconscious climber Third, make a rescue plan. Current or second rope? For an entrenched current rope: use prusiks and slings to reach the climber when they near the top Self rescue Prusik out (illustrated on this page) Climb out, perhaps being lowered to make that possible Team rescue Most Force (just pull the victim out): five or more rescuers C-pulley: three or more rescuers Z-pulley: two or more rescuers (illustrated on the next page) Z plus C-pulley (or C plus Z): one or more rescuers Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 16Complex Rescue Situations Middle Climber In (Three Person Rope Team) First, the climber holding the least weight sets an anchor system Second, lower the fallen climber onto the anchor system Third, belay the third climber to the anchored side of the crevasse Fourth, proceed to crevasse rescue step two on the previous page Not Enough Room Between Crevasses Use a pulley or carabiner to change the direction of pull Roofed Crevasse Enlarge the hole to the rescue edge of the crevasse. Carefully remove snow with a shovel to avoid snow dropping onto the climber. Rappelling to an Unconscious Climber Second Rope Method (recommended): With one end of the rope attached to the harness and the other end to the anchor system with a prusik knot, lower a loop of rope half the distance to the unconscious climber. Tighten the prusik knot to the anchor system. Then rappel all the way to the end of the rope. Don’t forget a prusik self-rescue system to get back out. Current Rope Method (not recommended): Install the rappelling device in the loose rope just above where the anchor is attached to the current rope. Then attach the anchor to the rope just above the rappelling device and remove the anchor attachment that is now below the rappelling device. Attach a prusik from the harness to the rope. Rappel down with one hand working the rappel brake, the other hand keeping the prusik knot loose. When at the injured climber hold position by tightening the prusik knot. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 17Ice Climbing Mountaineering does not get any easier than ascending moderately sloped ice. It's like walking on a sidewalk. Climbs sometimes start at night in order to ascend on ice, or hard crust, and descend once the sun has come up and warmed things up to snow and slush. The key to walking with crampons is to keep all the points on the ice, a technique called flat-footing and French technique. Sometimes that means walking sideways, sometimes walking backwards. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 18More Ice Most accidents happen during descents. People are tired and ready for the climb to be over. Plan in advance to use an extra measure of caution on the descent and stick to the plan. Front pointing places the front crampon points directly into steep ice. In the Pacific Northwest there is no ice this steep on standard mountain routes. You have to go looking for it. Front pointing looks hard, but is amazingly easy. Although front pointing works with one ax, two-tooling, which uses two ice axes, is much easier on long pitches. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 19Glossary Alpine: Concerning high mountains, originally, concerning the Alps. Alpine Start: An early morning start in order to ascend before the snow becomes soft from the sun or in order to return before nightfall. Alpine Style: Lightweight climbing that emphasizes the role of speed in safety to take advantage of good conditions that might prevail only a short time. AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness): Symptoms of low blood oxygen level due to high altitude: headache, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, malaise and disturbed sleep. Hypoxia is a related debilitating lack of oxygen. Anchor: Point where the rope is secured to the snow, ice or rock with either fixed bolts, rocks, trees or non-fixed gear to provide protection against a fall. An equalized anchor (equalized anchor system) places equal weight on multiple devices to reduce the chance of failure. Any individual anchor point, whether created with one piece of protection or with multiple pieces in an equalized anchor, must be able to hold a fall. The condition of the rock, snow or ice determines whether an individual anchor device will provide adequate security or whether an equalized anchor is required. Approach: The section of the climb leading up to the technical section of the climb. Ascender (Jumar, Clog) : A mechanical braking device used for belaying oneself from a vertical fixed rope. By comparison, carabiners on slings are often used to connect to a fixed line on a traverse. Avalanche: The movement down the mountain of previously stationary snow, rock, or both. Snow avalanche conditions for open slopes can often be predicted by monitoring the weather. Belay: Safety technique where a stationary climber provides protection by means of ropes, anchors and braking devices or techniques, to an ascending or descending partner. A static belay is when a fall is held fast. A dynamic belay is when a fall is brought to a gradual stop by allowing the rope to slide somewhat to not overload the anchor with the force of the fall. Belay Device (ATC, Figure Eight): A metal device through which a climbing rope is threaded to create friction to brake a fall. Many belay devices can double as a rappel device. Belay Station: An anchored stance from where a climber provides roped protection for a partner in motion. Mountain Climbing School Manual, Page 20

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