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Mountain troubles

Mountain misadventures.

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What troubles and misadventures in the mountains threaten to a beginner?

In this text, I will answer the question of what troubles an inexperienced person can face in the mountains when doing mountaineering, trekking or mountain hiking.

Many new, previously unknown dangers lie in wait for the tourists in the mountains.

To be honest, the question is slightly incorrect. After all, the very fact of a civilized person getting into the conditions of the mountains is already a nuisance. Given the toxicity of this natural terrain and the high likelihood of getting into a dependence on it, the most important "trouble" to keep in mind (if you are not already stuck in it) is the possibility to get the mountain infection for the rest of your life. All further problems will be secondary.

Snow teeth on the way to the summit of Mount Dykh Tau

Speaking, in fact, about troubles - they can generally lie in wait for a person anywhere, and the mountains have nothing to do with it. The quality and quantity of trouble depends more on the person than on the environment in which he is.

Nevertheless, mountains, as an environment that is totally unusual and hostile to people, pose a danger to any normal person, especially to those who are not mentally or physically ready for them.

Crazy mountain streams require special technique when crossing

Before moving on to the list of possible troubles, I want to draw your attention to the fact that the global cause of all troubles in the mountains, from the smallest inconvenience to the serious accidents in the mountains, is an irrational motivation that brought a person to these mountains.

I have already spoken about this more than once and will continue to say it - two decades spent in the mountains confirm this truly truth!

Mount Ama Dablam Nepal

If you are drawn to the mountains by the desire to prove something to someone, to receive a Darwin Award, or become famous, or to gain some special social status – perhaps such climbing not even worth starting. 

Climbing to the top of Kurmychi, Elbrus region

Mountains are something else and more than that. It is like an expensive wine, which in a small dose and in a good company will be an exquisite pleasure. But if you choose the wrong quantity, quality, company and reason to drink, you can vomit and earn a hangover.

Mount Chatyn in the main Caucasian Range

And yet, the mountains do not forgive pathos, hypocrisy and vanity, they teach and usually punish severely. That is nothing to them, they are mountains... But people get hurt and sometimes even die. Well, it was everything, I want to say about the main thing about climbing mountains, now I will list the ordinary prerequisites for gaining unforgettable mountain (mis)adventures. There only will be four. After these I give some examples.

Elbrus is preparing for bad weather. On the summit of Andyrchi, acclimatization before climbing Mount Elbrus

Body fitness is a critical factor in comfort and safety in the mountains. In case of lack of physical fitness, the mountains may turn out to be higher and more difficult than they seemed in the picture before the hike.

Practicing iceclimbing skills, Kashkatash glacier, Elbrus region

All health problems, lack of acclimatization, fatigue conditions due to illness or overwork are troubles associated with a lack of physical health. Consequently, it is necessary to start preparing for the mountains not a week before, but at least 3-4 months before the trip.

Lack of tactical or technical training - any, even the simplest route, requires competent planning and preparation. Without this, you can "stuck in completely out of the blue."

Glacier training, steep ice climbing skills

Tactical errors are the result of a lack of theoretical and practical training in navigation, route planning and climbing schedule. Examples for this paragraph can be taken out in a separate section of the analysis of accidents. Because if in the mountains you go astray or you can lack the necessary equipment to overcome obstacles, and that will not be a misadventure or nuisance, but a serious emergency.

Walking among glacial cracks, Caucasus

· Wrong choice of team - a classic misfortune. If you find yourself one goofy for a group of trained and experienced participants (which is ideal) - your problems are likely to be solved by others, you will be helped and taught. And if a whole herd of goonies gathers together (led by the highest quality dunce - the leader who assembled such a group) - with their critical mass they will suppress any glimpses of common sense, make hell in the group for themselves, and possibly drag into this hell those who happen to be nearby, occasional innocent neighbors. Read the history of the Dyatlov group. The example is harsh but expressive.

On the summit of Mount Elbrus

· Economy on the most necessary things in the mountains - on clothes and equipment - a classic cause of many troubles in the mountains. For example - blisters everywhere - on the legs because of bad shoes, on the back because of uncomfortable backpack.

The equipment must comply with the climbing program, be modern and reliable – it is not only your pleasure, but also safety of your life and health. It fully depends on the quality of equipment in the mountains and in general in any outdoor event.

Boots are good. Crampons are so so. Also not sized

I will give a couple of examples on the equipment fails. Suppose, for a summer program in the Caucasus mountains - for example, climbing Bazarduzu in Dagestan - you purchased an expensive and high-quality downy sleeping bag - with that I congratulate you – although definitely you did not read my recommendations for this program!

Further, on the way to the first overnight stay, the group got caught in the rain, and everyone was soaked to the skin. Including yourself and your new down sleeping bag. Is this already a misfortune? No, alas. This is already a big problem.

Let's say you are a pretty girl. In this case, it is likely that the leader of the group will let you spend the night in his sleeping bag. The real trouble can come later – not for you but for this poor guy - if his wife will find out about it.

Drying a sleeping bag in the tent

As for your own problems - you will have a wet sleeping bag, which is almost impossible to dry without special devices. This situation may result in early termination of the program for you or even for the entire group. The original mistake was - for the summer climbing in Caucasus it is better to take a sleeping bag with synthetic insulation. It costs less and dries much faster if occasionally wet.

Central Caucasus, in the acclimatization camp 3500

Or here's an even worse example - a boot with a broken sole on the route is also not a small trouble but rather a real disaster. You will not have a change of shoes - no one takes spare shoes on the route, and jumping on one foot over large and slippery stones is a dangerous gamble bordering on recklessness! Even a simple escape from the route along a mountain path of 15-20 km (half a day's journey) in slippers or in torn, tape-wrapped shoes is a big nuisance, with the risk of injury and consequent accident. Got it? Not only the success of the whole climbing program, but also your life and health depends on the quality of your equipment.

Here's what happens when you come to the mountains in boots that you haven't worn in 10 years

To summarize the above, the mountains repeatedly aggravate any small fail, mistake or inaccuracy in actions, sometimes extremely cruelly suppressing attempts to play a game that a person wants to play with them according to his own rules.

Mount Dykh Tau Snow Ridge

At the end of this story I will exaggerate a little the view of the subject, and tell about one accident which, unfortunately, I saw with my own eyes. Going on an mountain ascent in a snowstorm, the head of a Russian group of militaries who were training in the mountains for some of their top-secret military goals, said - we don't care at all about the weather, we are special forces, which is the worse is the better for us. What kind of mountain skills the military wanted to work out in bad weather in the mountains stood unknown ... The commander did not have time to write a memorandum. A few days later, the weather calmed down, and five stiffened corpses were found on the glacial plateau. In torn clothes and in very strange poses.

No one ever figured out exactly what happened, but it is not that important now. The cause of the accident is clear - overestimation of one capacities and irrational motivation for climbing, wrong choice the weather conditions that were completely uncontrollable and dangerous.

On the top of Kurmychi, acclimatization trip before climbing Elbrus

Be careful and reasonable in the mountains. Take care and good luck.

The author of the text and photos is Alex Trubachev

 MCS EDIT 2023

Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.