100 things I've learned about climbing and walking in the last 3 years. Totally personal, for interest only. Not trying to tell people what to do.
1. Listen to your gut.
2. If you get very cold, stop and get yourself warm or get off the hill asap.
3. When your friend says watch out for the massive loose boulder, be very careful and definitely don’t pull on said massive boulder.
4. Never rush trying to figure out where the route goes. It’s better to spend more time thinking and deliberating than getting lost on the side of a mountain.
5. Brynje is awesome and keeps you warm even when you’re soaking wet.
6. The key to staying warm when wet is choosing good base layers.
7. Sometimes wet mild weather can be more dangerous than very cold dry weather (wet and cold is much worse than dry and cold).
8. Money can’t keep Scottish rain out. Forget about staying dry, think about staying comfortable and wet.
9. Don’t take jars and cans on an expedition. The weight isn’t worth it.
10. It can take seconds to fill the inner of a tent with rainwater. Consider going outer pitch first.
11. Dry bags can leak. Double bag your down sleeping bag.
12. Be obsessed with the weather.
13. Weather forecasting is sometimes horrendously wrong.
14. If determined enough, it’s often possible to climb if you are willing to drive a couple hours.
15. The west coast generally gets hammered with rain when the east coast is often dry (Sunny Dundee).
16. Snow holing is awesome, but bloody hard work.
17. Wear a digital watch for timing.
18. Your navigation can always be better.
19. Complacency is your worst enemy and will alway be waiting for you to slip up.
20. Charge your phone.
21. Never rely on your phone - iPhones especially are terrible in wind.
22. Anquet maps lets you print to scale.
23. Ideally have a spare map.
24. Microcams can turn unprotected, serious climbing into a great day out.
25. A skyhook on the back of your harness could be your get out of jail card.
26. When a guidebook says 10 minute walk in, it usually means 20.
27. Even a big boulder can be loose. Never assume until you’ve (carefully) kicked, pushed and pulled it.
28. A belay boulder should be the size of a big fridge.
29. Offset nuts are awesome.
30. Back up dodgy abseils (then make the fattest climber go first).
31. Try not to abseil on bushes.
32. Met office, BBC weather and MWIS combine to give you a good idea of weather.
33. Beware paper alpinists (people who read a book about alpinism then head straight to the alps). They may be able to get up alpine route (with the aid of a guide), but they’re probably shite climbers.
34. Never underestimate the power of the ego (especially among men) and be guarded against its’ effects on your own climbing.
35. Harveys maps are good for walking and don’t need a case.
36. Fabric boots with lots of panels look good, but tend to wear out quickly and lose waterproofness fast. Go old school - one piece leather boots and care for them by waxing them regularly.
37. Paying for quality items pays for itself.
38. Extend your passive pro.
39. Don’t forget to protect the second on a traverse - it might be easy for you on lead, but can be serious and dangerous for the second if they swing.
40. Most climbers don’t know much about self-rescue.
41. Learn about self rescue - it might save your life and can help your crying girlfriend get up that route that was obviously too hard for her.
42. Beware people who tell you to ‘always’ do something (I’m aware how hypocritical that sounds). Although there are some hard and fast rules, often there are more grey areas than black and white.
43. Old climbers are good to learn from. They’ve obviously lived long enough to acquire a load of experience.
44. If you feel a twinge, listen to your body and stop climbing immediately.
45. Often people get injured because they do too much, too soon, too hard and too often.
46. Finger injuries can take many months to heal properly. Be prepared for the long haul.
47. Tendons and ligaments take years to strengthen, so train accordingly.
48. ITBS is a bitch, but a knee brace can help.
49. Sitting around too much can cause a weak hip flexor. Strengthen your core and it might go away.
50. Consider a multidirectional piece to protect against an upwards pull on some climbs.
51. Auto-locking krabs can add a layer of safety.
52. Pays dividends to carry that just-in-case gear with you.
53. Chalk bag on a prussik cord.
54. Favour tying into the belay with the rope (it will protect the belay and you, if you slip).
55. Try to always place a Jesus piece to protect the belay.
56. Belay glasses will save your neck.
57. ‘Don’t fall off’ is a great rule to avoid dying (especially for beginners), but find a way to live alongside fear, instead of letting fear affect your climbing.
58. Relocate before the bad weather sets in.
59. Follow a system when navigating. Methods, objective, tick offs, catchment.
60. Lyme disease is more common than you think. Tuck your socks in, wear trousers, get a tick tool and consider using permethrin.
61. Camp up high to avoid ticks.
62. Don’t be ‘Les Ninja’ - wear light clothes on the glacier (or anywhere it is sunny).
63. A tick list for kit can help you to remember.
64. Pack your bags the night before.
65. Wear a helmet.
66. Sandstone and limestone can be tricky to protect.
67. It can still feel ‘winter’ even in the middle of the summer in Scotland.
68. There are many different ways to set up a belay - learn them all and know when to use them.
69. Don’t wear your good set of clothes to scramble on Skye as they’ll just get ragged.
70. You don’t need to hire a guide, get professional instruction or attend a course for most things. With practice, determination and the wisdom of experienced mountaineers you can achieve. (Do consider attending a course or paying a guide to contribute to the industry and further your knowledge).
71. Although being a member of a mountain club is a great way to get out walking when you have little experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will learn much. Often you’ll find yourself following other people around.
72. If you want to learn how to navigate, most of the learning will come through personal experience and you will learn the most when out solo.
73. Don’t let climbing and walking become your entire life. There are more meaningful things out there.
74. The forums and facebook are a great way to meet partners, but vet them carefully and maybe don’t climb anything too hard the first time you go out.
75. Down is absolutely worthless in the wet - down treatments don’t work in proper rain.
76. There is a wealth of information - freely available on the net - for anyone who wants to learn how to climb like a pro, but there are also some really great books out there.
77. ‘Hard’ is a relative term. There is no agreed ‘hard’ grade. It is entirely what you say it is, so don’t listen to ego-joe.
78. Being a climber may put you at more risk in scrambling terrain as it may seem very easy to you, but the consequences of a fall are very real. Over-compensate for your climber brain, by being extra-vigilant in easy, lower angle terrain.
79. Try to avoid standing directly underneath the climber when you belay, to avoid rockfall.
80. Agree climbing calls in advance. Agree not to use ‘take’ in trad or even better, use ‘off-belay’ instead of ‘safe’ to avoid confusion between safe/take.
81. Plan what you will do if you can’t hear each other on a climb.
82. Carry a bail-biner on hard sport routes.
83. Be prepared for when shit hits the fan. Carry a bivvy bag, med kit, self-rescue kit and discuss next of kin details in advance.
84. You might die climbing, if you’re not ok with that, then maybe it’s not worth the risk.
85. The Jonathon Conville courses are great. Long may it continue.
86. Getting a van is just as great as you imagined it might be.
87. A walking pole is really worth carrying on a big walk.
88. If you want to make real progress, you’ve got to learn how to suffer a little, go out when the conditions are less than optimal, drag yourself out of bed when you feel tired and be prepared to make sacrifices in your life.
89. Surround yourself with motivated people to make up for your own lack of motivation.
90. Drop your ego and climb with younger, better climbers.
91. It’s good to sometimes actually try something that is beyond you. Have you ever tried to climb harder than your insight grade?
92. Don’t buy cheap gear that your life will depend upon.
93. You are capable than far more than you think you are.
94. Don’t be afraid to go that little bit higher above your gear. Often there is a jug waiting for you.
95. The alps are a totally different ball game. Have modest objectives for your first outing.
96. Become a master of different forms of climbing to maximise climbing opportunity. The climber who does sport, trad, boulder, winter and shunting can climb all year round and is never dependent on partners.
97. Respect the mountain. We take pleasure by their grace and they can take it away at any point if you disrespect them.
98. Stay cool and calm when you get lost/go off route. Usually an exit will present itself if you can hold yourself together.
99. Have patience with people who frustrate you. Teach them instead of having a go at them.
100. There is a very fine line between pleasure and tragedy.
Great! Enjoyed that, thanks
Enjoyed these, cheers.
One of these, alas, falls into my general observation that these lists of "rules" about climbing will often contain mild sexism. (Ref no. 41 - not that dreadful, for sure, and I presume is a true story, but is a bit annoyingly gendered/stereotypical).
Didn't want to post this really because the last thing I want is a protracted argument about sexism with the people of UKC, but I've decided to point things out when I see them out of solidarity with other women. If another woman reads it and thinks that it isn't really offensive or bad, then fair enough, maybe I am being overly sensitive.
Oh, I understand. I wouldn't have said it, save for the fact she really was crying! I would never have said otherwise and of course, could be your crying boyfriend, or partner, or friend, but yes, perhaps I should have rephrased it. No offense intended.
Fair play, cheers
"8. Money can’t keep Scottish rain out. Forget about staying dry, think about staying comfortable and wet."
Yep, very true!!
However, in light of that, I would suggest harveys maps do need a case!! I like harveys, but I take all maps in a case as I never want to risk a trashed map!
I would add, always be flexible in your plans, the hills and rocks will be there another day. Never feel that turning back is a failure, it is just making a prudent plan for that day. (I guess that is maybe what you meant by trust your gut?).
If I listened to 44 I'd never go climbing!
and perhaps I missed it (and the list does remind me of Baz Luhrmann's hit track) so
101. Wear Sunscreen
(Edit for typo)
> 22. Anquet maps lets you print to scale
Provided you pay them a large sum of money every couple of years when they change their software/app/pricing model
I'd rather go to jail than land on my arse with a skyhook dangling off the back of my harness.
#73 is clearly bollocks
No mention of retreat? Lots of 'push on', 'keep going', 'stay calm' etc. Knowing when to back off is the most important skill to learn in climbing. Being able to reverse, downclimb, and know when you're in a bad place is vital. How do you think the old boys you mentioned stuck around so long? #94 + #98 can often end in disaster.
#98 can often end in disaster.
Really? Is it better to lose your cool and panic?
101. Don't brazenly ignore travel restrictions during a pandemic............ oh, wait a minute.......
Sorry, couldn't resist it.
#94 PLUS #98
Hahah. Yeah that's open to interpretation. Sometimes I get a certain twinge in my shoulder or finger towards the end of a day and I know I've pushed it hard enough. It's quite specific.
102: Ignore righteous c**ts on UKC.
Definitely forgot to put that one in.
If you're in need of an internet arch-nemesis, I'm sure there are others who care more than me who would be great candidates! I could give you some recommendations?
> 102: Ignore righteous c**ts on UKC.
> Definitely forgot to put that one in.
Failing at your own rule 99 there...
Hahah. Classic. It's not really a rule book though.
I take it you're happily a bachelor and intend to be for the rest of your life? If so, good for you, but for most folks, family comes first.
Look man, if you disagree that's great. Write your own list. Like I said, it's personal. Kind of like a list of ideas. I think if you take offense you're missing the whole point. The skyhook thing is actually for retreating. I wouldn't lead on it.
Three years ago I would have appreciated reading a list of ideas like this. I wouldn't have taken it as gospel, but used those ideas as inspiration perhaps. That's one of the beauties of the internet, we can all share ideas. As long as you're not trying to force anything, anyone can have a crack. The trouble is, there's always a few folk just looking to dig a knife in and get one over on you. I'm blessed with an innate ability to just not give the slightest what these people think and long may it continue. To everyone else, share your thoughts and ideas in a positive way and thank you in advance.
I didn't take offense but it seems like you might have ;-)
Good man. Peace to you.
Great list, thanks, thought-provoking too
I disagree with #73 though. Case by case... works for some
103. Be super-careful abseiling. One mistake can be game over
104. When someone pushes you to lead a route you think might be too much for you, beware and be very careful. If they then cast aspersions on you for not trying, walk away, they're an a**ehole
Indeed. It is pretty much my whole life, but on balance, if I didn't have the other great people in my life I probably wouldn't be very happy.
> That's one of the beauties of the internet, we can all share ideas.
And discuss them in good humour without being offensive?
Shall we bury the hatchet?
You may have 100 things on your list, but there's 101 ways to kill yourself abseiling......
No doubt. Very dangerous.
101 Water, don't forget water. It isn't always available, particularly on a long multi pitch and/or in hot climates. Plan carefully and take plenty - more than you might think, ideally in more than one container.
I had a bad experience on a day long via ferrata 750m on a hot Alpine day followed by a long walk out when my camel bak leaked early in the day. I should have turned back, but I didn't. I had hoped to find a stream on the descent, but didn't until late in the day. By evening my tongue was swollen and stuck to the roof of my pallet. A few days later I was taken to hospital with a bad kidney stone attack requiring surgery. I hadn't been drinking enough for some time and I am convinced this episode triggered it.
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