While mountain climbing can be one of the most exciting and challenging sports, there are also many dangers involved in mountain climbing which one should consider. To decrease the odds of falling victim to a damaging or fatal injury on the mountain, make sure that you are aware of all of the hazards and take appropriate safety precautions. In this article we will look at some of the common dangers that one faces when climbing.
The most obvious hazard that springs to mind when thinking about mountain climbing is the danger of falling. Rough surfaces of exposed rock make it easy to break one’s bones or even die instantly from comparatively short falls. A mountain climber must continually be aware of the environment around him and make sure that his / her estimates of the strength and stability / firmness of the rock are correct. Rocks can be rotten and give way, crumbling when weight is applied to them. The speed with which weight is transferred from one point to another is also important, as jerking motions are more likely to dislodge a hand hold or foot hold. Many climbers take advantage of multiple support points to protect themselves in case one of their supports gives way. It is also wisest, in cases where vertical or near vertical ascents are being undertaken, to climb in a team. When climbing together, team members must always be aware of each other’s positions, as they rely on each other for physical support and for rescue if there is a sudden problem.
Another common danger for mountain climbers is that of avalanches. Avalanches are caused either by loose snow which accumulates as it rolls down the mountain, eventually forming a large mass, or by a slab of snow which suddenly breaks free. Climbers need to be experienced with snow climbing techniques and pay close attention to the recent weather to know what level of danger they are facing from a possible avalanche. If there is a high risk of an avalanche due to the local conditions, the leader of a climb has to be prepared to turn back ‘ this can be difficult to do when great effort has been put into reaching the higher parts of a mountain, and frustrating as well because without someone as a trigger the avalanche usually doesn’t happen, making it impossible to say whether or not going back was necessary. Still, exercising caution when snow conditions are dangerous is the only way to be safe. The standard safety gear used for areas where avalanches may occur are an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe.
Finally weather is also a great danger, especially on the upper reaches of a mountain. The combination of cold, snowy weather, which may make it very difficult to see the area ahead of you, and the altitude, which makes it more difficult to breathe, make climbing to the summit of a tall mountain an extreme challenge. Climbers must be sure to bring proper support, and to gauge the level of oxygen that they bring with them to remain safe.