Mountaineering is the act of trekking and climbing mountains, often with specialised equipment.
The sport of mountaineering aims at reaching the highest point of mountains, preferably high, difficult to climb or (mostly historically) yet unclimbed ones. The techniques differ depending on whether the terrain is rock, snow or ice, and in many cases the mountaineer has to face all of them in difficult (cold and windy) conditions at high altitudes after a long wilderness hike. Except the easiest mountains, mountaineering requires experience, athletic ability, good equipment, and technical knowledge, and safety can seldom be guaranteed.
As mountaineering requires training and experience for all but the easiest cases – and determining whether the conditions allow a safe tour requires experience in itself – this article will not try to teach the needed skills. Instead it touches on some of the issues, tries to explain what mountaineering is about, and lists some destination of interest for mountaineers or those fascinated by the topic.
Rock climbing is the specific moment of climbing up a vertical or near-vertical surface. This can be part of a mountaineering expedition, or done at a more comfortable point.
"Easy" high peaks
- Mount Kinabalu
- Ojos del Salado, in Northern Chile
- Pokalde, 12 km southwest of Mount Everest
The base camp is a camp in a reasonably convenient and safe location, where one can stay while preparing for the climb, wait for good weather, and leave equipment and supplies not needed on the climb itself.
On popular routes there are often mountain cabins, safety huts and similar. These provide at least some shelter from the elements, sometimes also basic provisions and meals.
A tent is often the primary place to sleep on mountaineering journeys. It can be used where there are no huts, and when the hut cannot be reached because of foul weather or other circumstances. On many climbs there are no convenient places to put up the tent, so special arrangements are needed. Another issue is high winds.
When climbing, there is the risk of falling. On deep ice and snow there can be crevasses obscured by snowbridges. There are also the risks of avalanches, falling rock and ice, altitude sickness, snow blindness, cold weather etc.