What gear do you need to start mountaineering?

Posted by Daniel Middleton on 19/12/2010
What mountaineering equipment do you need? Photo: Alex Messenger.

Mountaineering encompasses everything from easy scrambling to Himalayan ascents, with the equipment required varying accordingly.

Start off by taking the same kit you’d take if going walking but with the emphasis on keeping down the weight and bulk. Remember, you’re going to have to climb when carrying it!

Stiff boots with a mountaineering sole unit are much better for climbing in than bendy hiking boots. For winter they’ll need to be crampon compatible.

You’ll also need some of the equipment you’d take if you were outdoor climbing but again stripping things down to save weight and bulk.

For easy scrambling a shorter lighter rope can be taken.

A fully adjustable harness to fit over whatever clothing layers you end up wearing.

There’s more likely to be loose rock than at a climbing crag, so wearing a helmet is an even better idea.

At least half a dozen slings, some screwgates and a few large nuts and hex’s will do to begin with for belays and protection. As you get more adventurous and things get harder, you’ll add to this.

For winter you’ll need crampons to put on your crampon compatible boots, and an ice axe. You’ll also need the skills to use them.

The Winter Skills playlist on BMC TV can be a great resource on how to use mountaineering equipment and for other safety skills on the mountain.

The BMC Alpine Essentials DVD is a good introduction to mountaineering


As Europe is unlocked, BMC travel insurance is loaded with the essential cover that you need for adventure.  

From 10 July, many European destinations are opening up to UK travellers. This means that you can still have your summer adventure – from sport climbing in Spain to trekking in the Alps.

BMC travel insurance comes in five policies: Travel, Trek, Rock, Alpine and Ski and High Altitude.

All of our policies include the following Coronavirus cover:

  • 24-hour emergency assistance helpline
  • £10 million emergency medical cover
  • £100,000 Search, rescue and recovery cover

Please be aware that there is no cover for cancellation, curtailment, delays or journey disruption in any way caused by or resulting from coronavirus / Covid-19. Read more about the Covid-travel FAQs here


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