How to start mountaineering

Posted by Jonathan Garside on 12/12/2012
How do you start mountaineering? Photo: Alex Messenger.

There are many different types of mountaineering, from exploring Britain’s hills in summer or winter to scaling Himalayan peaks. All types of mountaineering involve a degree of skill and preparation.

Before you start dreaming of your first winter route (or a solo ascent of K2!) do some summer hill walking to develop your fitness and sure-footedness. The BMC publishes a free New Hill Walkers booklet and Safety on Mountains booklet to help you learn the basics.

Once you want to venture further afield, it’s a great idea to join a club if you haven’t already. There are more than 300 climbing, hill walking and mountaineering clubs affiliated to the BMC and many run meets in remote parts of Britain or abroad.

Believe it or not, Britain offers some of the most challenging winter mountaineering around. You can develop your skills close to home by taking in one of our winter lectures or watching the Winter Essentials DVD.

You may also find it helpful to take a course at the National Outdoor Centre, Plas y Brenin, or hire a guide through the Association of Mountaineering Instructors or the British Mountain Guides. It’s a great way of fast-tracking your skills development and gaining confidence.

Some aspiring mountaineers may even be eligible for a subsidy. The Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust delivers subsidised mountaineering courses for your people, and Plas y Brenin manages a range of bursaries.

If you’re still hankering for the Alps, don’t miss out on our Alpine lectures and Alpine Essentials DVD. They contain invaluable advice to help you on your first attempt at something bigger. 

And while you’re over there, why not try ski touring? It’s an exhilarating way to explore the mountains and if you already have good off-piste skiing experience, then you will have some of the necessary skills. Our Off Piste Esssentials DVD will point you in the right direction.

As with any sport, there is an element of risk in mountaineering that you need to accept. Take responsibility for your own involvement and read the BMC's participation statement.

And if you’re going to altitude for the first time – perhaps on an organised trek – read the up-to-date information in our altitude advice sheets and our Travel at Altitude booklet.



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Anonymous User
23/03/2014
Hi - the link for the Safety on the Mountains booklet is bust - 404 error.

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Jonathan Garside(author comment)
24/03/2014
Thanks. Now fixed :-)

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