Mountain Climbing Essay

Mountain Climbing Term paper

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Mountain climbing can be an exhilarating, rewarding and life changing experience. Although climbing a mountain can be one of life s greatest accomplishments, it is more than panoramic views, the satisfaction of reaching the summit, or a true wilderness experience. Mountain climbing is a great challenge that involves risk, danger, and hardship. Mountain climbing is not for everyone, although some can find it irresistible, as well as frustrating and sometimes even deadly. There are qualities to mountain climbing that bring inspiration and joy in a pursuit that is more than a pastime or a sport ;it is a passion and sometimes a compulsion. A distant view of a mountain may speak of adventure, but the mountains only hint at the joys and hardship that await the climber. Climbing a mountain takes much preparation, knowledge and skill. The mountain climbing environment is indifferent to human needs and not everyone is willing to pay the price or able to survive the hardship in exchange for the physical and spiritual rewards the experience can provide. There are many different types of climbing. There is hiking on the lower elevation mountains, traditional climbing on the moderate elevation mountains, scaling rock walls of mountains, climbing through snow and ice, climbing glaciers and alpine trekking. Hiking includes various terrain such as rock, dirt, brush, talus and scree, which is loose rock fragments from the crumbling mountain, snow and streams. As the elevation gets higher it becomes necessary to use additional equipment for the climb such as an ax, ropes, a harness, runners and carabiners. When climbing glaciers or climbing in the ice and snow, it becomes necessary to use crampons and gaiters. An ax is just what it sounds like, an ax, however it is an invaluable tool. It is used for additional balance when crossing a stream, climbing through scree which can be very slippery, serving as a cane when going uphill, and a brake when going downhill. Although very important, an ax can be very dangerous if not skilled on how to use it. If not used properly the ax can provide a false sense of security and hurt the climber rather than help them. A rope is sort of a safety net for a climber. The rope is anchored to the mountain, wrapped around the climber s waist or attached to a harness and knotted. Harnesses and runners are what the rope is attached to. The climber puts on a harness or runner and attaches the rope to their waist in order to provide safety and stability when climbing the side of a mountain. Carabiners are metal snap links used for belaying, rappelling, clipping into safety anchors and securing the rope to points of protection. In its simplest form, a belay is nothing more than a rope that runs from a climber to another person, the belayer, who is ready to stop a fall. Belaying is a technique of climbing safety that one must learn and practice before scaling the side of a mountain. Rappelling is coming down from a climb. Sometimes there is a choice between rappelling and downclimbing. Rappelling might be the fastest and safest way. The weather, the terrain, time, strength and experience all must be considered before rappelling. A rappel system consists of four elements: an anchor, a rope, means of applying friction to the rope and someone to rappel. The most fundamental element of the system is the anchor, which is the point on the mountain to which the rest of the system is attached. The anchor must be carefully selected for strength, stability, and reliability. Once the rappel has begun, not only is the climber s life entirely dependent on the anchor, but also returning to the anchor to make adjustments might be impossible. Along with all of these types of climbing comes a set of guidelines to help people conduct themselves safely in the mountains. Climbing not only requires technical competence, but also the ability to solve problems and make decisions. Good judgment is essential to climbing. Coping skills and problem solving skills such as the ability to deal with adverse weather, long hikes, thick brush, high exposure and mountain accidents to name a few, are necessary for a safe climb. Based on careful observation of the habits of skilled climbers and a thoughtful analysis of accidents a climbing code as been developed and has served well not only for climbers but for all wilderness travelers. The code is by no means a step by step formula for reaching the summits but rather a set of guidelines to safe and sane mountaineering. Accidents can be avoided or the effects minimized by following the principles of the climbing code. The following code has proven to be a sound guide to practices that minimize risk. The Climbing Code (2) 1. A climbing party of three is the minimum, unless adequate prearranged support is available. 2. Rope up on all exposed places and for all glacier travel. Anchor all belays. 3. Keep the party together, and obey the leader or majority rule. 4. Never climb beyond your ability and knowledge. 5. Never let judgment be overruled by desire when choosing the route or deciding whether to turn back. 6. Carry the necessary clothing, food, and equipment at all times. 7. Leave the trip itinerary with a responsible person. 8. Follow the precepts of sound mountaineering as set forth in textbooks or recognized merit. 9. Behave at all times in a manner that reflects favorably upon mountaineering, with minimum impact to the environment. Experienced mountaineers often modify the code in practice, taking an independent course that combines an understanding of risk with the skill to help control it. The code is recommended especially for beginners who have not yet developed the necessary judgment that comes only from years of experience. If we learn to climb safely and skillfully in tune with the wilderness, we will be able to accept the lifetime invitation that John Muir, an experienced mountain climber, extended to us many years ago. He said, Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. (21) This means that climbing should be a peaceful and serene experience. As long as climbers use knowledge and skill, common sense and good judgment, along with physical and mental preparation, reaching the summit of a mountain should be the sheer satisfaction of a great accomplishment that one can enjoy and reap the rewards of for years to come. It should be an exciting yet tranquil experience one will never forget. Trip preparation and proper navigation are very important to mountain climbing and hiking in the mountains. Finding the best path appropriate for the abilities and equipment of the climbing party are essential for a safe climb. A current map of the location being climbed should be consulted before selecting the route. One who is familiar with maps and who knows how to read them should view the map and select a safe and appropriate route to climb. The progress of the climb should be tracked on the map along the way. Keeping track of time is also important. Knowing when to turn back if necessary is an important judgment call. A compass is a necessity to climbing and should be checked periodically to make sure the climber is staying on course and consistently heading in the right direction. An altimeter is like a compass except instead of determining direction, it determines altitude. An altimeter is important in helping the climber decide whether to continue a climb or turn back. An altimeter can also help determine location. Along with a map, a compass, and altimeter to help navigate a climb, a good leader is an important aspect of a successful climb. A climb leader is someone who has special responsibility for organizing the climb and making decisions during the climb. One of the basic fundamentals of mountain climbing aside from all of the knowledge, common sense and physical and mental preparation, consists of having the proper clothing. There are many different types of clothing for the various types of climbing. Being prepared with the proper clothing is essential for a safe and comfortable climb. One thing to consider when choosing the appropriate clothing is the fabric. There are many different types of fabric to consider when finding the appropriate clothing for climbing. The following is a chart that explains the different types of fabrics for climbing, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of them. Fabric Advantages Disadvantages Uses_______ Polyester Dries quickly, comfortable Expensive. Some types T-shirts and Lightweight. retain odors. insulating layers. PolypropyleneDries quickly, lightweight. Expensive, scratchy, retains Same as odors. polyester. Nylon Strong and durable. Fairly absorbent. Dries Parkas, wind Lightweight. Inexpensive. fairly slowly. garments, rain Wind or abrasion resistant. pants. Spandex Stretchiness. Compromises durability. Used as a Compromises wicking blend in many performance. Dries slowly. garments. Wool Retains some insulating Dries slowly. Heavy and Insulating Qualities when wet. Fair bulky. Scratchy. layers, shirts, resistance. Inexpensive. pants, caps, gloves, socks, sweaters. Cotton Breathes well. Good in hot Absorbs a lot of water. Generally weather. Comfortable when Loses insulating qualities inappropriate. dry. Inexpensive. when wet. Dries slowly. Clothing helps you stay comfortable by creating a thin insulating layer of warm air next to your skin. The enemies of comfort are rain, wind and cold. All of these elements work against your protective layer. Comfort is a relative term for mountain climbing. Inclement mountain weather often forces climbers to
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