Although every trail is best enjoyed with the company, especially considering the dangers and pitfalls that can ensue, sometimes an easy trail or a lack of takers to an invitation can mean you feel the need to climb solo. If this is the case, then it is important to remember a few things before you set off. Not only can they be the difference between life and death, but others are also just going to make a climb more comfortable.
With no one to share the burden of all that camping gear or to remember spares, it is more important than ever to be prepared.
Give Your Details To Somone
There might be a ranger on hand to leave all your info with before you start, but if not, it is always better to be prepared for the worst by leaving important details with someone you trust. If you find you are about to climb solo, make sure you leave your contact information with someone. Also, it can be useful to leave details of the climb, the destination, the time you anticipate being back, your license plate, and even the clothes you are wearing.
Take Important Details
Like with giving yours to someone else, be sure to have some important details before you take off towards the peak. This should be all local emergency services, any park ranger phone numbers and locations, or even someone you know to live locally can all help should you need to get out of a tricky situation.
Prepare For All Types of Adversity
When climbing alone, you could come up against a variety of problems, some from wildlife, others from the climate. This is why it is always a good idea to make sure you have a plan for if you encounter a bear – do you have a bear spray to hand? Also, do you know how to use it? Do you know what to do when you suffer a snake bite?
Is a change in the weather going to become dangerous for you? If so, do you have the necessary equipment and know-how to cope? With so many dangers, and only one bag to fill, make sure it contains what you need to survive and that you know how to use it.
Double Up On Batteries
When using GPS on a trail, make sure you have a backup plan of your route should you run out of battery, or take spares. This is especially the case for a phone that is on the old side. Otherwise, a quality GPS can help make life easier, and they tend to have a long battery life that can help a solo climber stay on track.
Research The Climb
One of the big downfalls of a lot of mountain climbers is overconfidence. When approaching a peak, especially a new one, it is important to know everything there is about the mountain. Consider the following before you set off:
- How long should it take?
- What difficultly to expect
- What route you are taking
- Are there alternate routes?
- What do past climbers say to expect?
Prepare For The Relevant Climb Type
Any climb you haven’t tried before can be difficult to prepare for, but some of the basics are easy to cover. Each type of climb will require different equipment so be sure to have everything that comes with either top-roping, trad climbing, bouldering, alpine climbing, and aid-climbing.
Make Sure You Have Emergency Supplies
You might not be planning on it, but sometimes a climb will require you to stay in a tricky spot overnight. If the way back takes longer than expected or you get lost, make sure there is everything needed for a comfortable stay until it is safe to continue the next day. This can mean camping supplies but also taking more food and water than you seem to require.
Even when the day is warm, the nights can be cold so be sure to have something that will keep you comfortable when the temperature drops such as an ultra-light sleeping bag.
Check The Weather
This will seem obvious to some, but even a week of warm, sunny weather has the end at some point. Try and find out if this is going to be in the middle of your planned climb so a constant downpour doesn’t slow you down. Check it in advance of your climb, then check again in the morning. Things change fast, make sure you aren’t at the mercy of mother nature.
Be sure to take in your surroundings as you climb, look up to the sky every now and again so that the clouds aren’t gathering sneakily.
Take It All In
When solo climbing it can be easy to get on with the task at hand without taking enough time to enjoy the surroundings. When climbing a mountain, you canget a different view from various positions up to the peak. Every once in a while, have a look around and remind yourself why you are choosing to climb. Without a companion to stop and take a break with, this can be something that is not done anywhere near as much as the surroundings deserve.
Climbing comes with its challenges, and part of what makes something worth doing is overcoming anxieties. Try and get into the right frame of mind before you set off for a new peak, getting to the top might not come easy, but it will be worth the trouble. Stretching your comfort zone is part of what makes life exciting and as long as you are physically prepared, the mental side will fall into place.
Give yourself positive affirmations, remember the other climbs, and remember to stay safe. If you don’t have anyone to go on the climb with, then enjoy what the great outdoors has to offer on your own. If you have prepared for the unexpected, can take adversity in your stride, and only focus on what you have control over, you have achieved half the battle.