Mountaneering Techniques

If you dream of climbing the world's highest mountains, or even if you simply hope to climb Mt. Rainier or the Grand Teton this summer, click through these pages for expert advice on everything related to mountaineering and alpine climbing. Inside, you'll find illustrated articles on training, rope work, rescue, health, altitude sickness, mountaineering equipment, and much more.

To the uninitiated, climbing a vertical pillar of frozen water looks impossible. Ice climbing requires a wide range of skills, from movement technique to placing ice screws and other protection, and the articles in these pages will help you climb ice quicker, safer, and with more fun all around. Plus, we'll help you train for ice climbing this winter so you'll be more confident on steep ice.
  • HPPinchPoint

    Learn This: Pinch Points

    You’re cruising a broken and blocky ridgeline that leads to the summit when all of a sudden a 20-foot technical section stops you in your tracks. Your partner doesn’t skip a beat and starts to head up, but you’re intimidated by those six or seven moves because they’re surrounded by a 1,000-foot drop on either side. Though you’ve got gear and a harness in your pack, time is of the essence. Thankfully, there’s a fast and efficient way for the leader to use the broken nature of the rock to build a simple anchor and belay a follower—with minimal gear and no harness. Use a “pinch point,” the area of contact between two large rocks that provides 360° of access to thread or tie a sling, as an anchor to save time and keep everyone safe and happy.

  • HPStuckRapRopes

    Learn This: Free Stuck Rappel Ropes

    When I look back on my 30-year tenure as a climber, I realize that I’ve spent as much (or more) time descending than ascending. After all, knowing when to turn around is what keeps us climbers alive and climbing. All that “downtime” easily adds up to several thousand hours of dodgy anchors, scary raps, and uncertain ends. That stuff would make any grown man nervous, but by far the scariest experiences of all were the few times I’ve gotten the rappel rope hopelessly stuck. This scenario can cause even the hardest of climbers to break out in a cold sweat. When your rope is stuck, you ain’t going nowhere. Here are my hard-won tips for getting your rope unstuck and—even better—preventing it from happening in the first place.

  • Cirque Traverse Training Exercises

  • HPPack

    Learn This: Pack Smarter

    When I see that guy on the trail with a tent, banjo, puppy, and pony keg swaying from carabiners, I’m just left wondering why. Why do so many of our otherwise reasonable mountain buddies want so badly to strap their kit to the outside of their sad, under-utilized packs instead of just putting it all inside?

  • Traveling on a Rope Team

    Got a peak like Mt. Rainier on your tick list? If you have Alaskan or Himalayan aspirations, you should. Rainier’s classic Disappointment Cleaver route is the perfect introduction to mountaineering: You’ll get a taste of glacier travel, extreme weather, and altitude, on a route that’s never steeper than 45 degrees and that most can easily pull off in a long weekend.

  • Ueli Steck's Annapurna Kit

    How much gear do you need for a new route on an 8,000-foot Himalayan face? Traditional, expedition-style ascents required so much in the past that an army of porters and yaks had to haul it all to base camp. But times have changed.

  • The Comeback: Recovering From Climbing Injuries

    Life would be great if we bounced back quickly to 100 percent after recovery. But the reality is that once you get back on the vertical horse, you are still in recovery. Comeback climbing takes patience and acceptance of your vulnerability. It takes stepping back to the grades you began at and working your way back up.

  • Train Indoors For Ice and Mixed Climbing

    When it comes to training, rock climbers have it easy. Look online for countless articles on different ways to get stronger, and then work hard in the gym (and there seems to be a new one popping up on every corner) to get better on the rock. But ice and mixed climbers don’t get the same benefit from pulling on plastic, and training resources are harder to find.

  • One-Legged-Pigeon-Pose-158

    Stretch and Strengthen

    Stretching is an often-overlooked aspect of the pre-climbing routine. The following stretches pull double duty; not only do they lengthen your muscles, tendons, and ligaments for the approach—therefore preventing injury—but they also provide more mobility and flexibility on the wall so you can climb smarter and stronger.

  • Essential-Bivy-Survival-Kit-660

    The Essentials: Survive an Unplanned Bivy

    Everyone knows packing the 10 essentials is a good idea, but most people don’t actually pack them. It’s easy to get lax about loading things you hope not to use, but would you cancel your car insurance just because you haven’t had an accident yet? We consulted professional mountain guides as well as the venerable Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills to create this visual checklist for what you need to cover your ass if your perfect day in the alpine goes awry.

  • How-to-Jug-Rock-to-Alpine

    Transition from Rock to Alpine

    Progressing from weekend cragging to long alpine routes can be intimidating for anyone, even strong and competent traditional climbers. While the most valuable knowledge is gleaned from experience, there’s plenty of real-world advice to learn beforehand. Alpinist Scott Bennett has six years of experience in the mountains and on rock. Here, he shares his hard-won tips for climbers moving from rock to the mountains.

  • How-to-Hip-Belay

    How to Hip Belay

    Long before the invention of belay devices, the hip belay provided security for the second and saved time in the mountains. When used correctly, a bomber stance can replace a traditional anchor, or you can back up a marginal anchor with a solid stance. It’s best in lower-angled and broken terrain, where a fall by the second is easily recovered, and there is little danger of a pendulum swing.