From UPM Basic Mountaineering Course Wiki
Part 1: Climb Preparation
In preparing for a climb, several factors have to be taken into consideration by the prospective climber. No backpacker-beginner or expert-can ignore physical fitness in preparing for a climb. A certain level of fitness is required for a pleasant and safe climb. In order to enjoy the scenery and the company of fellow backpackers, one must be fit to keep up with them. The lack of preparation has made a lot of potentially great climbs end in total disaster.
To help you in preparing for a climb, we have listed down some guidelines:
- All participants of the climb must be physically fit. The best type of fitness program involves continuous endurance training through aerobic sports such as running, swimming, cycling and walking.
- Weight training is the perfect supplement to an aerobic program. This will help you develop your muscular strength and endurance.
- Any participant in a climb who gets sick before the climb should forego his participation. A sick climber becomes a liability to the group.
- An old adage says that the best exercise for mountaineering is mountaineering. The hardiest hikers and climbers are those who spend a great deal of their time hiking, backpacking and climbing.
- Being fit gives you the confidence to tackle climbs, such that psyching up come almost naturally.
Part 2: The Pre-Climb Meet
Planning A Climb
The success of an expedition depends largely upon the amount of planning given to the activity. The different components that make up a climb are discussed during the pre-climb meeting. In preparing for a climb, a plan to climb must first be submitted and approved by the officers of the organization in order to be a designated as an official climb.
The organizers of the climb should serve notice to the members at least one week beforehand. This is to ensure that the participants have enough time to prepare for the climb. Announcements should include the objective, nature, requirements and itinerary of the climb. These announcements are to be posted at the organization’s Bulletin Board and in emails.
Organizational regulations require that all the participants of the climb conduct a pre-climb meeting at least three (3) days before the start of the climb. The pre-climb is a comprehensive study, presentation and discussion of the essential parts of conducting a climb. Its format should include the following items:
The Objectives of the Climb
Talking about the nature of the climb is organizing the trips into specific categories.
Minor Climbs - these are mountains that could be easily trekked within a four or six hour peroid. Basically the trek is simple, light and easy. Because of this, they are also called fun climbs or overnight climbs. These climbs are most favored by urbanites for their recreational purposes.
Major Climbs - these are mountains with a higher degree of difficulty. The trip could take three or more days with an average trekking time of seven or more hours per day. These climbs are more favored by full time mountaineers because it tests their abilities and skills to survive and to discover more of mother natures secrets.
The next categories can be engaged on either minor or major climbs:
Training Climbs - the primary purpose of these climbs is to meet the training requirements of the applicants of the club. The organizers provides it’s applicants with a progressive climbing program which gradually trains and prepares them for harder ascents.
Guideship Climbs - these are climbs where you have paying clients that are guided up a mountian of their choice. LNT are also taught in every participants.
Clean-Up Climbs - the primary purpose of these climbs is to help preserve and maintain highly impacted mountains and campsites. This means bringing down garbage left by indiscriminate climbers, tree planting on barren slopes and trail maintinance work to prevent further soil erosion.
Exploratory Climbs - these are climbs wherein no routes exists and are established and ascended for the first time. These are the type of climbs that demand a great deal of planning and preparation. Exploratory Climbs are further discussed in U.P. Mountaineers Advance Mountaineering Courses (AMC)
Making Courtesy Calls
Before heading off into the backcountry, it’s important to make your intentions known to the nearest Barangay or local government official. This way the town folk will not be alarmed by the presence of strangers in their area. Remember that diplomacy can go a long way. You will also be oriented by the locals about the general security of the area and general condition of the route that you will be taking. Find out if there’s any park fee that needs to be addresses before going up the area.
Route planning basicaly tackles all the aspects involved in bringing the team safely and efficiently to and from the backcountry. The route plan has two areas of concern.
Trip to the jump-off point: Is the process of getting the team and their gear from the city to the area at the foot of the mountain where the actual trekking begins. This topic is further discussed in BMC1 Part 3
Climb Proper: It is how will the team move about thru the backcountry to fulfill their objectives and back down again, safely and efficiently. You will learn this in detail when you take up your lessons in UPM BMC 3 Land Navigation. While making the route plan you will also be able to develop and identify the following concerns of the planning and preparation phase. These are:
- The itinerary.
- Transportation to be used to and from the expedition.
- Possible lodging.
- The budget of the whole trip.
- The amount of food to prepare and bring.
- The type of equipment that must be brought along.
All of these will also be further discussed in detail as you go along thru the lessons. To help you out while developing the route plan, you can get the necessary information from the following sources. The information that you acquire during this stage of the planning process is fully utilized most especially during first time trips by the team to untravelled sitios, barrios and local regions.
- Notes from the scribes of previous expeditions.
- Interviews from mountaineers and guides who have climbed the area.
- Guidebooks, tourbooks, and other similar text, e.G.- “The Lonely Planet”
- Topographic maps, road maps, and such. These are usually used with the help of a compass.
- Acquired notes made from an ocular trip made by one or two members of the team to the possible “jump off point” a few weeks or months earlier than the given schedule for the trip.
- In this day and age, you could try going thru the internet and check out various local web sites offering adventure tours and alike.
- You can try making an inquiry to the department of tourism, department of environment and natural resources or similar regional, local and non government offices.
- The value of the compass and the topographic maps is limitless especially when it comes to establishing new routes and first ascents on unexplored areas of the mountains.
With such information at hand the team can familiarize themselves with most aspects of the expedition even before leaving the city. The team can then move efficiently and safely through the trip.
The Itinerary of the Climb
The itinerary is basically a detailed breakdown plan of the journey to be undertaken. It should contain all the vital information and contact numbers of every person involved in the team and local contacts. The value of having an itinerary is realized in keeping up with schedules to avoid unnecessary discomforts such as being forced to do late treks or to set up camp in the dark.
Programming activities maximizes efficient use of time. In multi-day ascents or exploratory climbs, the *itinerary is usually formulated based on the study of the map which provides an approximation of the distances to travel. The amount of gear and provisions required is determined by the established itinerary.
The Team Leader: The team leader is selected according to his/her familiarity with the mountain and his/her leadership potential. He /She is given an almost absolute role in decision making on that climb. However, he/she should also be open-minded enough to accept suggestions, especially on decisions involving the safety of the party. The Team leader is responsible to select the team’s Contact Person.
The Medic: The medic should have a thorough knowledge of first aid techniques. The medic is responsible to bring most of the needed first aid kit.
The Scribe: The scribe has the duty of documenting the details of the climb.
The Tail: Also known as the “sweeper” who is responsible of bringing up the rear. This person must possess the patience and ability to motivate people and is familiar with the area.
The Contact Person: The contact person should be present during the pre-climb and has a copy of the itinerary. Is also responsible for activating a search and rescue team if the team is not contacted within twenty-four (24) hours of the estimated date/time of arrival.
Subdividing a team into smaller groups
Subdividing into smaller groups of five to seven members increases the safety factor during a climb. It also facilitates the sharing of shelter and other equipment. It is easier to plan and prepare meals for smaller groups. Large groups require large and heavy cooking utensils. Small groups shall have a group leader who is responsible for the management of his/her members.
An essential part of climbing is determining the approximate cost of transportation, possible lodging, meals and other expenses. Each member usually pays for his/her transportation fare. Each member of a group is assigned with a certain meal to prepare.
A certain individual may be assigned to prepare a certain meal during the climb. The cost of all the meals is summed up and payments are settled later (usually in the post-climb meeting). Other expenses like spare batteries, trail food, etc. are for the account of the individual mountaineer, unless discussed otherwise by the group members.
The amount of food to be carried on an expedition is determined by the length of stay in the wild plus extra rations in case of emergencies. All the members of the team must avoid buying meal requirements at the jump-off point because the presence of ingredients, stores or markets in the area is uncertain. The type and amount of food to be used and brought can be determined by the following guidelines.
- Nutritional value - Meals should be able to provide and replenish the energy requirements of the climber. This means packing a lot of carbohydrates with protein and fat rich food. It also must be easy to digest to facilitate faster replenishment of lost energy
- Multi-day ascents require meals that will not spoil easily. Food can be preserved through drying, pickling and salting. Food treated with spices and vinegar usually lasts for days. There are also meals which can’t spoil quickly (See Appendix for details)
- Meals should not be limited to pre-packaged food or canned goods. The creative outdoorsman can come up with a hundred different ways of preparing nutritious and delicious meals in the wild. Keep in mind however that the wise backpacker will design menus which will use light ingredients and easy to prepare with a minimal amount of cooking time involved. Canned tomato sauce may be replaced by powdered tomato paste. Soup mixes are lighter than their canned versions. By using light ingredients, you will be able to lessen your load.
- Consider the food preference if any of your team members has dietary needs, allergic reaction and religious limits.
- A kilo of rice would be the standard amount for 6 people in every meal.
- Design your meal which uses minimal amounts of water, cooking oil, cooking time and waste products.
- Let the food cool first before packing it this prevents the food from spoiling quickly.
- Moisture is one of the reason vegetables rot easily. If you are bringing one, have it is covered with paper to prolong it's life.
Trail meals are helpful in eliminating hunger and exhaustion during trekking. It can even act as your main meal if you fail to eat during meal time due to delayed itineraries. Trail food should meet 3 requirements:
- It should not induce thirst, since it would induce the climber to consume more water.
- Nutritious and must satisfy your body’s energy requirements. Sweets in general, meet the criteria but may require some catabolic conversions before your body can use it as a fuel.
- Easy to prepare and should require little or no cooking at all. Time and fuel constraints must be considered. Samples of trail food: Crackers, nuts, candies, chocolates, fresh or dried fruits, corn flakes, pre-packed gelatins and the eternal G.O.R.P. (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts).
Part 3: Trip to the jump-off point
In every trip, it is important to know the means of transportation the team will be utilizing to get a basic idea of how much the budget will be allotted for an expedition. Always consider the number of participants and their backpacks.
Here are general guidelines to keep you abreast:
- If you’re susceptible to motion sickness, do bring and take the necessary medication an hour or two before the ride. Prepare yourself of the discomforts of third world traveling. It’s usually bumpy and dirty and anything can happen.
- Avoid wearing any jewelry or flashy wristwatches, it attracts crime. Keep your jacket accessible instead.
- If possible, make a reservation or buy your tickets beforehand. Inquire about cargo fees and excess baggage fees. Some liners charge fees for bikes and backpacks.
- Assign a member to be the “load master” or “watcher” to manage the loading and unloading of gear. This also heightens the security of all equipment.
- At every station, be considerate that chairs and tables are meant for people and not your backpack.
- It is always an advantage arriving at a station early so you can reserve (only If it is allowed) seating spaces.
- Basic rule in loading: always prioritize the large packs first. Smaller packs are easier to mount just in case space is not available anymore.
- Whether the team is a small group or large one, always seat yourselves together.
- Some transports will load your packs on a roof rack. Make sure your packs are waterproofed. All cash and valuables should be hand-carried in one bag. Some climbers bring elastic cords for extra securing.
- When renting out any means of transport, check if it is in top form to bring you to the jump off point. Having a roof rack is always a plus. Make sure that you agreed on a reasonable price before moving on. Most drivers allow you to pay the other half when you get to your destination.
- Utilize the bottom carriage for your pack only if is free of holes and leaks on the floor.
- If the bottom compartment is already full and you have no choice but to bring the pack into the bus, head towards the very back of the bus. Most buses have ample space for your pack either in front of your seat or behind it.
- The team can also utilize the isle for pack space just make sure that you leave enough space for other passengers to pass through
- There are provincial jeep rides that allow passengers to ride on top of roof racks, given the chance, make sure you won’t fall during the experience.
Tricycles, Habal-habal and Sky Lab
- Motorbikes that are “interesting” to use if it is the only transport available. Keep in mind that your packs can also consume another seat.
- Place rock climbing equipment and hardware at the top section of your pack for easy access because it is always subjected to inspection.
- All kinds of stove fuel, pressurized containers, lighters, nail cutters, pocket knives are subject to confiscation.
- If applicable, disassemble stoves and let it dry and leave the cap open before you pack it so no “fuel odor” will emit lessening the inspection hassles.
- If you can manage, try to “hand-carry” most of your equipment (other than stoves) to lessen an overweight pack. Most air liners allow up to 7 kilos as long it’s not bulky.
Ship Liners, Ferry Boats and Pump Boats
- Know before hand how long the trip is going to be so you can bring some “creature comforts” to pass the time away.
- Inquire if your ticket includes meals and beddings for the duration of the trip. If meals are not included, bring your own meals. ship meals are usually expensive.
- Some shipping lines confiscate stove fuel, pressurized containers, lighters and pocket knives.
- It’s an advantage to travel at least in pairs. If your traveling alone and you need to leave your pack, hide it where it is “hard to reach” or clip it to a bedding’s bar and cover with a malong or ground sheet. Always bring most of your cash and valuables with you.
- Bringing a hammock is a plus just in case you ran out of a seat or bed.
- Keep your jacket and sleeping bag accessible as sometimes a ship’s airconditioning can really get cold.
- Smaller boats are generally more vulnerable to strong motion sickness so prepare.
- During bad weather, be advised that small boats are kept docked by local officials.
- When renting out a pump boat, having a tarp roof is a plus so you won’t get “toasted” under the sun.
- If your gear gets wet, wash it with fresh water as soon as possible. Salt stains when it dries up.
Part 4: Climb Proper
During the trek, there are some conventions followed regarding group formation. Some are listed below:
- The lead man is always in front and is responsible for pacing the group, while the Tail is responsible for bringing up the rear.
- Formation on narrow trails should be single file. Overtaking should be avoided but if a “need” arises, inform the climber in front of you that you need to overtake in a courteous way.
- The ideal distance between two climbers is approximately two (2) meters. This gap will give climbers some space in which to negotiate the trail and proceed along the group’s pace.
- Large groups can do “compression stops” to close long gaps between fellow climbers. Trekking together heightens the safety factor. Compression stops are not rest stops.
- The signal for stopping is one long whistle blasts - and to commence trekking, two short whistle blasts.
- The lead and tail men are the only persons who can give orders to stop or proceed.
- The international mountaineering distress signal is six (6) blasts to a minute. To signal aid is on the way, give (3) blasts to a minute.
- Always start with a slow pace to slowly warm up your muscles. Then gradually change your pace to the group’s desired pace.
- Maintain a steady rhythm while trekking. When negotiating steep slopes, keep the rhythm (pace) by shortening your strides. On level ground, maintain the rhythm by taking longer strides.
- Do not allow anyone to lag behind. An isolated climber heightens the risk factor in an expedition.
- Should there be a need to stop, inform the lead or tail man so that he or she can give the appropriate order to stop.
- The pace of the group should be that of the slowest member or the person who has the heaviest load. This prevents a large team spread along the trail in very long gaps. In some cases, a struggling or an injured climber can be deployed at the rear part ONLY if he/she will trek with his/her groupmates.
In negotiating the trail, some techniques must be kept in mind in order to provide the safest and least difficult route to the summit or objective. Some guidelines are mentioned here.
- The ridge line is preferred in route finding. Avoid waterways and gullies since water always takes the steepest route down the mountain.
- Prevent muddy spots from turning into 10-20 foot wide mud highways. Be sure to stay on the trail if it is muddy or wet. If you walk around the mud the trail will widen and become even muddier in the future. Mud is part of the backcountry challenge. Expect it. Hike through it. It is not that difficult. You can even use a stick, walking staff or trek pole to help gauge the depth of the mud and to help you with balance.
Source: Chris Conway, Yosemite Falls
- Foot prints will also tell you how deep a mud is. It’s faster to step on someone’s foot print than exploring an alternative path. On steep trails, boot skid marks also tells you that someone already “slipped here” so avoid it if you can. If your boot got stuck on the mud, just step backwards to let it free.
- Logs are generally slippery especially when wet so the option of walking on the ground beside the log lessens the chances for you to have an accident.
- If a log or a fallen tree is blocking the trail: check if it is safe to pass, either crawl under or walk over by stepping on joints of branches. If it is not pasable, make a detour.
- If a log is quite high to step on, you can sit on the log and make a pivoting move by moving your both legs over the log, these lessens the strain on your legs.
- Reposition heavy items (mostly wet clothes or tent) at the bottom part of your pack prevents pushing your head first to the ground when you lose balance.
- To maintain balance and traction during descent, learn to dig first with your heel or the side of your foot.
- When there is a need to hold on roots or vines, first test if they are sturdy enough to carry your weight and that they do not have any thorns.
- If the terrain is too steep and slippery, face the wall and step downwards as if you are going down a ladder.
River crossings can be dangerous. Depth and strength of the current will affect your movement in the water. It is therefore important to assess the need to cross the river before proceeding. Check the area for other avenues to get safely across like natural bridges or shallower portions. If you are in any doubt as to the safety of a river, you should not attempt a crossing. Certain precautions can be taken when crossing a river becomes necessary:
- Loosen shoulder strap, unfasten your hipbelt and sternum strap when crossing rivers and streams - whether a log bridge, over rocks or through the water itself. This will allow you to remove your backpack quickly in case you fall into the water. Backpacks tend to float and will trap your body which is less bouyant (forcing you) under the water.
- Bend your knees and face the incoming current for better balance. Cross in a diagonal line of the river so you are able to see any approaching debris.
- Wet and mossy rocks (usually green) are very slippy so AVOID stepping directly on top of it. Set your foot “in between” rocks instead for better grip. In case your foot got stuck in between rocks, pull it by stepping backwards.
- Face the current. Water carries floating debris downstream which may hit you if you are unaware or not paying attention.
- When crossing alone in knee-deep water, it is advisable to make use of a stick. This will help you maintain your balance by acting as your third leg and will also function as a prod to check what is under the water.
- When crossing in groups, hold hands and cross in a triangular formation in threes. This will help you maintain balance and deflect the current. Again loosen shoulder strap, unfasten your hipbelt and sternum strap as the group crosses.
- When the water exceeds waist level, the use of a rope is recommended. A rope is strung across the body of the water diagonally downstream and used as a guide for the members crossing. Climbers should stay on the downstream side.
- When strung perpendicularly to the current, ropes tend to sag in the middle when loaded – which will hinder movement. It is also advisable to remove your backpack before crossing, to lessen the drag. It will be easier and safer to pull it across later, after crossing.
- Flash Floods - Flash floods are lethal. Do not attempt to cross during a flashflood. The water current can turn deadly very quickly and often without any warning. The strong and fast current often carry large debris that can sweep you into the river even if you are crossing with the assistance of a rope line, trekking poles or locked arms with a fellow trekker. It is best to be cautious and wait on higher ground for the flash flood to subside as it does not last for very long. Flash floods are often preceded by a sudden heavy downpour or a long spell of rain. The color of the water may turn from clear to the color of light tea or beer to coffee. There are no observable audible signs as they may be drowned out by the sound of rain, and they are observable visually only when they are full-blown and thus already Deadly. (The occurrence of flash floods may intensify in frequency due to denudation of mountain slopes, quarrying, river silting, obstructions to the normal flow of waterways and the increasing intensity and frequency of storms due to Global Warming and Climate Change.)
The interval between different stops will usually depend on the difficulty of the terrain encountered. Some guidelines are listed below:
- Treks on level ground - five (5) minutes rest for every hour of hiking.
- Ascents - five (5) minutes rest for every thirty (30) minutes of hiking; on steep slopes - five (5) minutes rest for every fifteen (15) minutes of hiking.
- Descents - five (5) minutes of rest for every hour of hiking.
- During rest periods, do not sit or lie down at once. Keep standing at least thirty (30) seconds to allow your pulse to normalize before sitting down. Drinking too much too quickly will induce an abrupt lowering of your body temperature. When the Team Leader signals for the resumption of the trek check your equipment and immediate surroundings before packing-up and heed the signal of the lead man promptly.
There will be times when you have to communicate with other members of your team or even other teams during a climb through the use of natural materials to make trail signs. The use of colored ribbons and straws are easily seen but it is discouraged because of its visual impact on the environment.
Go this way:
Don’t go this way:"Block the wrong trail with twigs or grass only.
It’s confusing placing trails signs in the middle of the fork, instead place it where it is easily seen towards the desired direction. Trail signs should be ideally placed on every bend so it would be also visible for night trekking.
Part 5: The Post-Climb Meet
An essential part of the climbing experience is the climb’s assessment. This is where the participants of the climb give their personal feedback on the climb. The team should meet within five (5) days after the climb to review the strong and weak points of the climb to allow for tempers to cool to have an objective and accurate analysis during the assessment. All the participants of the climb are required to attend the post-climb meeting.
The team leader presides at the meeting while the scribe takes down the notes. For future reference, the scribe fills up the Climb Report Form and submit it to the secretariat for filling within two (2) days after the assessment. As a rule, all group equipment must be returned during the post-climb meeting.
The whole discussion will begin from the time the climb was announced, to the conducting of the pre-climb meeting, trip to the jump-off, climb proper, descent and the trip home. The most important aspect should be discussed are those incidents that went wrong during the whole activity. The team must identify the factors that contributed to the occurrence of the incident. The team must also discuss on how and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again. Always remember to have an open mind and an attitude to improve yourself.
Part 6: Leave No Trace Principle (LNT)
Plan Ahead and Prepare:
- Know the area and what to expect.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Select appropriate equipment.
- Respect other visitor’s desire for solitude.
- Learn about local habitats and what it takes to protect them.
Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces:
- Concentrate use in resistance areas. Avoid places where impact is just beginning.
- Camp away from existing water. Conserve water. Avoid polluting water sources.
Dispose of waste properly:
- Bring out inorganic and organic waste, including food scraps.
- Carry out litter left by others. Dispose of human waste responsibly.
- Minimize soap and food scraps in wastewater.
Leave What You Find:
- Protect cultural resources, including archaeological artifacts.
- Avoid damaging live trees and plants. Leave natural objects.
Minimize Campfire Impacts:
- Fires are sometimes appropriate, but firewood selection, gathering and use, as well as careful campfire site selection and fire tending are critical to minimizing impact.
- Enjoy Wildlife at a Distance, Never Feed Wildlife, Store Food Securely, Minimize Noise, Avoid Sensitive Habitat, Avoid disturbing wildlife.
Be considerate of other visitors:
- Avoid Conflicts
- Minimize Crowding
- Respect the Privacy of Other Visitors
- Let Nature’s Sounds Prevail.
Part 7: Water Management
Ideally this should be the standard amount of water to bring for an overnight climb. Each individual is required to bring 5 liters of water. The breakdown is as follows:
1 Liter – trail water
2 liters – personal use
2 liters – group use
There are times when you are tempted from “sneek drinks” from the assigned group water and later ending short of a pint or two to finish off cooking your rice and for your groups’ consumption.
- Make sure you are fully hydrated before starting the trek.
- Avoid drinking in huge gulps but in sips instead also learn to tolerate a certain period of hours without any water intake, two hours at best.
- It will be your responsibility to bring extra load of water if it’s in your nature to consume a lot of water.
- When you do run out of water, look for a water source; this will be discussed further on U.P. Mountaineer’s Basic Mountaineering Course 3 Land Navigation.
When water sources are “suspicious” and needs precautionary measures to be done, these are the options that you can do:
Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water-U.S. Environmental Protection Committee
Outdoor Action Program Guide to Water Purification The Backpacker's Field Manual by Rick Curtis first edition published by Random House March, 1998
Part 8: Garbage Management
Trash at jump-off points
- Trash of any kind should not be left at jump-off points. It should be brought back to the city for proper disposal. In some rural areas, the usual mode of disposing trash is by burning, burying and even dumping in waterways. It is better that we know where our trash goes.
- We also do not want to reinforce the locals’ behavior of collecting trash from climbers. If the locals keep on collecting trash from visitors, sooner or later, their dumping pits would not be able hold the garbage that climbers bring. Politely refuse if a local asks you to leave your trash in their pits. But if they tell you that they intend to recycle the plastic containers and tin cans, give your recyclabes to them. Giving them these items is better than bringing these back home and just throwing these away.
- Individual trash is better than group trash. Small amount of trash is easier to carry than large ones. Since you will be bringing your trash back home, it would be unfair for the individual who is in charge of the group’s trash to bring it home with him/her.
- Every member of the group should be responsible for his/her own garbage. We want to instill responsibilty for our own trash among our members.
Other climbing team's trash
- Pick up trash you see along the way.
- When you see trash left by other climbers on the campsite, bring them with you for proper disposal. Inform appropriate barangay officials of the misconduct you noted so that in the future, they will be more stringent in checking if climbers brought down their trash with them.
- Practice garbage segregation even in the outdoors. This is one small step we can easily do for the environment.
- Do not bury your garbage in the outdoors even if some of it is biodegradable. Food items left in campsite would attract animals and ants. You would not want to pitch your tent near an ant hill the next time you camp out in that same place.
Part 9: Climbing Checklist
Familiarity with the equipment used in mountaineering is a requirement for any serious outdoorsman. Bringing the right equipment will spell the difference between a comfortable night’s rest and a miserable, sometimes disastrous, night in the wild. For this course, we will discuss the items that should go into your backpack for a comfortable and safe stay in the wild. We will also discuss attire for trekking and the proper care and maintenance of equipment. Bringing military-issued equipment is discouraged.
Here is a suggested checklist format but remember that “what works for you might not work for others”. You can make your own version of checklist in due time. Climbing items has 9 categories: Essentials, Group Equipment, Clothing and Sleeping Gear, Food Provisions, Survival Kit or Emergency Rations, First Aid Kit, Repair Kit, Toiletries, and Optional Items. They are as follows:
Ideally bring extra cash or an ATM card as back up for the trip. Always bring it with you during transit. Be discreet counting cash in public places. Leave all the unnecessary items inside your wallet.
Any kind of identification you can carry during a climb is helpful.
Your name tag (with your blood type) and whistle should always be worn during a climb for emergency use.
Some trekkers consider their boots as being their most essential piece of personal equipment. Trekking sandals are extremely light, but they are not going to give you good support or protect your feet. A good pair of boots is:
There are two types of materials or fabrics used to fabricate boots used in tropical climates, the all-leather boot and the lightweight boot. The all leather boot is usually sturdier, more supportive and water repellant, but is warm and heavy. The lightweight boot is lighter and cooler but less water resistant and provides less ankle support. A boot with a low impact sole is to be preferred to a boot an aggressive sole. These new soles provide good traction while helping minimize your impact upon the trail and help prevent erosion.
An ideal backpack would be large enough to contain all the gear and provisions you will need for a certain trip. Since backpacks come in design and several sizes, make sure your backpack should also be sturdy enough to endure for rough handling and carrying heavy loads.
The Internal Frame Pack: Are designed to hug the body more closely and give the arms room to move. They provide good balance on steep ascents and ease of movement when moving along narrow trails. Features like lumbar pads increase comfort and compression straps help balance the load in the sack. Since an internal frame pack is supported only by two parallel stays, you must balance your load with more care than you would when using an external.
Bring at lest 3 lighters or match boxes and waterproofed it individually. Placing it in different locations inside the pack heightens the chances of still having a dry one just in case the backpack gets soaking wet.
Always bring extra bulbs and batteries. You can add a thin layer of petroleum jelly on joints that you think water will sip through. Pushing it further, bring an extra unit as back- up.
This is a small and compact knife which can be folded into its handle for convenience and protection
An example is the Swiss Army Knife. It often has other accessories such as a can opener, a saw, a screwdriver and other useful tools. The blade is used for cutting rope, cooking, whittling and other camp chores.
Must be accessible during trekking. It can be a Lexan plastic, Polyethylene Terephthalate bottle (PET) or hydration bladder that has a hose and a bite valve that most backpacks today provide. Tuck your hose inside the pack while in transit avoiding damage.
Tropical mountaineering is always wet so it’s mandatory to bring one.
Pack it OUTSIDE the waterproofing so when it accidentally leaks or bursts during transit, your gear will stay dry.
Preferably aluminum because it’s light, easy to clean and have a higher melting point that can also be used for cooking. You can also bring a “Spork” which is a hybrid of spoon and fork to lessen the weight of your load.
One can document the climb and keep important notes that will be of good use someday. This should be also be waterproofed.
Bring extra for other purposes. Prefer the “clear" cellophanes because it’s easier to look for a gear when it is fully stuffed.
Wearing a pair of slippers is a good way of relieving the swelling and is also convenient and a low impact way of moving around the campsite because of its mild traction.
The group equipment is divided among the members of the group. Each is assigned a specific equipment to bring. If a climber fails to participate in the climb because he/she got sick, it is his/her responsibility to bring his/her assigned group equipments and group food to the assembly place before the climb.
Clothing and Sleeping Gear
The type and amount of clothing to bring on a trek depends on the length of the trek and the conditions you expect to encounter. Outdoor clothing should be able to provide protection against the elements.
Avoid wearing or using neon colored clothing and equipment. Studies show that because it isn’t a natural color, some species of fauna become stressed just by seeing it and can disturb their natural behavioral pattern.
No of days + 1 - Mountaineers follow this rule to avoid excessive clothes. Bundle it per day on separate ziplock plastic bags.
Made of synthetic material which should be large enough to accommodate your whole upper body. This serves as your barrier from water and the cold ground.
The ideal tropical sleeping bag is light, compact and quick drying but warm enough to provide protection. Three-season sleeping bags are more than adequate for tropical climbing. Filling materials for sleeping bags include foam, fiber baffling, polyester, cotton and down. These materials determine the suitability of the bag for certain conditions, as some filling material provide more protection than others.
- Trail Food
- Packed Lunch: A climber can avoid cooking food at the early stages of hiking due to time constraints. It weighs lighter if it is placed in a resealable plastic bag than in a hard plastic case.
- Fuel for the stove: For an overnight climb, every person must bring the standard amount of fuel. You can bring extra amount of liquid fuel into the stove if you need to be extra sure.
Liquid Type Fuel - Gas, Kerosene, White Gas, Watch Cleaner and Lighter Fluid = 11 fl. oz. or 325 ml. or roughly 2 containers e.g. Fuji
Cartridge Type Fuel - Bluette, Camping Gaz etc= 2 containers
- Cooking Oil: Used cooking oil will be brought down by using a PET bottle.
- Group Food: Take advantage of using re-sealable plastic bags and containers to minimize trash but label your plastic containers for multi-day trips so that you won’t forget what’s inside. Remove paper labels from cans and use a marker to write down the brand.
- Rice and Eggs:The rice placed inside a plastic container cushions the eggs in your pack. Waterproof the eggs individually before putting it inside the container so if the eggs crack, it will not spill.
- Cooksets: Varies in forms and sizes. It is also made of aluminum, stainless steel or titaium. Some cooksets already have Teflon coating (non-stick surface) for easier frying and cleaning.
Survival Kit / Emergency Ration
The survival kit should be put into a compact and waterproof container which can be carried by the person during short hikes without a backpack. Survival kits are usually placed in a pack’s top compartment for easy access and portability.
The contents include: extra trail food, waterproofed matches, a plastic tarp, a surgical rubber tube and a signal mirror.
First Aid Kit
This kit contains essential supplies such as Personal Medicine, Triangular or Elastic bandages, Forceps, medication for fever, diarhea, Anti -allergies, skin irritation, other illnesses, Puritabs, alcohol or Betadine, insect repellent and disinfectant. This kit should always be checked before every climb and is to be placed in a waterproofed container.
Contains: Tying string, duct tape, tent seam sealer, extra buckle, needle and nylon string, etc.
Bring only a suitable amount you need based on the number of days of the trip.
- Toilet Paper: Mountaineers should also refarin from using non biodegradable moist towelletes.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste: Lessen the bulk and weight by stuffing the toothpaste in mini ziplocks
- Dental Floss: It can be used also as a thread in your repair kit.
- Sun Block: Waterproof and water-resistant sunscreens are best since effectiveness is not reduced by perspiration.
- Biodegradable Soap: All soaps, unfortunately even biodegradable ones, can contaminate fresh water sources. Using a biodegradable soap doesn't reduce its immediate environmental impact... it just means that the soap will biodegrade in time. If you feel you must use soap: Do all washing, bathing, or cleaning at least 200 feet from any water sources. Dispose of soapy wash and rinse water in a cat hole 6 inches deep to allow bacteria in the soil to completely biodegrade the soap.
- Other personal hygienic needs
Bringing most of the items mentioned below means you have to endure an extra load for the extra convenience in the campsite. It’s up to the climber’s needs if he/she is willing to make sacrifices. Weigh your pack loaded with water before leaving your home so you have an idea how heavy your load will be.
- Rubber Bands / Garters
- Camera and tripod
- Face Towel
- Tarp Shelter and Strings
- Hammock with tree hugger
- Safety Pins
- Pack Cover
- Walking Sticks
Part 10: Packing Of Equipment
Maximum Carrying Load
The maximum carrying load should not exceed one-third (1/3 or 33%) of your body weight. Maximum pack weight is 25% All equipment which may be affected or damaged by water should be wrapped and sealed in durable plastic bags. Use a large plastic bag as the inner lining for the backpack to provide additional protection.
Accessibility, Balance and Compressibility (ABC)
Light items should be packed at the bottom and away from the frame while heavy items should be placed close to the back. The goal is to have a balanced pack. Things which will be needed often or will require quick access (e.g., rain gear, first-aid, Swiss Knife, trail food, trail water, etc.) should be placed in the top compartment or on the other side pockets for accessibility.
All equipment which may be affected or damaged by water should be wrapped and sealed in durable plastic bags. Use a large plastic bag as the inner lining for the backpack to provide additional protection. Watch out for those pointed gears while packing!
“ Sky Lab “ n. a motorbike fitted with a horizontal board at back that can seat several passengers across.
"Switchback" is a trail up a steep hill or mountain that is like a zig-zag pattern instead of a straight trail. The zig-zag pattern protects the hill and the trail from excessive erosion. Trails that go straight up and down steep hills don't stay nice trails for long. Erosion turns them into gullies because water moves faster down steep straight-aways and it hollows out the trail and washes all the soil and vegetation down hill.
References: Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. Edited by Don Graydon. Fifth Edition. The Mountaineers, Seattle. Pp. 108-135
REI Fact Sheet “For Your Information – Stoves”
Knots: by Peter Owen
Care for folding knives: Swiss Army Knives
Chris Conway, Yosemite Falls
This material is provided by the University Of The Philippines Mountaineers for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience. University of the Philippines Mountaineers and the authors assume no liability for any individual's use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein. When going into outdoors it is your responsibility to have the proper knowledge, experience, and equipment to travel safely. Copyright © 2007, all rights reserved, University Of the Philippines Mountaineers
Consult the User's Guide for information on using the wiki software.