SKILLS & KNOWLEDGE
"By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin
Before learning about the basics of mountaineering and the skills you can learn to benefit for your health, it's best to get some background information about what mountaineering actually is? Here's my simple definition based on my personal experiences and research:
Source information: Britanica Article, published on October 15, 2019
Mountaineering, also known as mountain climbing, is a sport in which your traverse various terrain such as snow, grass, ice (glaciers) and utilize various components of hiking and climbing with equipment to reach your goal (to ascend and descend the mountain safely). When referring to the climbing aspect of “mountaineering”, we are referring to “aid climbing”, which is climbing with assistive assets such as equipment and fixed devices (ropes, climbing harness, carabiners) to reach the top of a mountain.
Aid climbing is often used to determine whether or not a route is safe to climb to the pieck and requires studying of the environment (where to add rock bolts). The term “free climbing” directly contrasts the idea of aid climbing, as it is climbing “free” of aid (hence the name). Free climbing is typically done between May-August when the weather is not cold (above 20 °C) and usually only requires casual, short sports clothing, a pair of light climbing shoes and maybe a bag of chalk to better grip strength.
Two Styles typically reffered to by the UK
Expedition Style: This style is a lot more extreme and intense lasting days to weeks. Expedition style is often used for higher mountains that require multiple ascents: 8,000 m range similar to mount everest. Nights are spent in between campsites, where supplies are always carried up to the next station. More equipment is needed for things such as apparatus and shelter: tents, oxygen tanks, sleeping bag, toilet paper, etc.
Alpine Style: Alpine style (the one that I've personally do) is the most common form of mountaineering and is the style used to climb the Matterhorn. It consists of a single climb to reach the summit and then safely descend from the mountain. Alpine style takes course over usually 6-8 hours maximum for a climb (2/4 upwards and about 2/4 downwards), for a climb above 3,000 m. Furthermore, this style usually includes mountains with a height between 2,000 m to 4,800 m. Supplemental oxygen is not required, since you will not be spending that much time at the highest altitude (when you make it to the summit). Less equipment is also required since you will only need essential equipment and as not much food compared to expedition style.
Benefits & Risks
What a contrast, right!?
Mountaineering is a fully body exercise that mainly utilizes the legs, core and cardiovascular system. It requires perserverence, muscular endurance, cadriosvascular endurance and muscular strength all in one; bringing together elements of both hiking and climbing (best of both worlds).
This not only makes mountaineering a full package of strenuous exercise, but it's also a discipline. It's more than just ascending and descending the mountain as effeciently and effectively as possible. It's how you ascend and descend off the mountain safely, through sheer grit, determination and awareness of both extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Mountaineering is no joke and I can list a multitude of deaths that occur in the alps of Swizerland, caused during alpine sport activities such as skiing, mountain biking or mountaineering. An average of about 12 deaths occur every year from people attempting to climb the Matterhorn, according to Benedikt Perren who was the former head of the Zermatt Mountain Guides Asscociation. You can look at my technique & safety page and my interview below this page to learn more about this.
When looking at what sets mountaineering apart from other sports, it would most likely be the cooperation and investment to the environment. When I was mountain climbing in Zermatt, I gained a range of different skills that benefited my life based on the different elements I obeserved climbing, for instance:
Awareness of safety, environment and preparation
Building better stamina and physical endurance
Respect and cooperation with the mountain guide