Beyond the razor wire surrounding the maximum-security prison lies a vast range of mountains and wilderness. To the non-climbing detainees, the mountains are an impossible pipedream; to the incarcerated alpinist, freedom awaits there. Legendary climbers-turned-POWs-turned escapees — such as Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter — used their alpine savvy to elude their pursuers as they negotiated mountain terrain. By studying the great mountain escape stories, alpinists can learn minimum-impact tactics and tricks for preserving the adventure for the next party.First, ditch all unnecessary gear and food so you can travel super light, with torture as your punishment for not outpacing your pursuers. Don’t leave an obvious trail. The following six stealth alpine travel tips are useful for treading lightly.
Leave a sling, take five. Keep rap stations clean, simple, and organized. Instead of adding webbing to an unyielding wad, cut off the stiff, faded slings and rap on the two strongest pieces, plus a new one. To cut the slings, carry a small, inexpensive serrated hardware-store knife on your harness. While you’re at the hardware store, pick up a few 3/8-inch steel lap links or 1/4-inch quick links for easing rope retrieval and saving the slings from rope burn.
Invisible beds. Harrer and Aufschnaiter labored to make sleeping platforms on their journey to Lhasa in Seven Years in Tibet, but they didn’t leave obvious bivy ledges. Think like that duo and refrain from major ledge excavations at your bivy sites. Use your clothing, pack, rope, and rack to level out rough spots. Before decamping, camouflage your bivi site by scattering rocks around it, lichen-encrusted side facing up. Let others work for their doss.
Cairn about escaping. Beth Rodden, Tommy Caldwell, and their crew didn’t leave a series of rock cairns showing the IMU how to catch them in Kyrgyzstan. While the occasional three-stone cairn signaling a hidden descent gully is convenient, don’t go overboard on your masonry efforts. Take a few seconds to trundle any needless cairns, remove fluorescent flagging, and clean up wands on your decent.
Mountain biohazard. Options exist beyond the standard fare of cat-holes, smearing, poop tubes, and blue bagging. One choice is to take your relief on a flat rock or crust of snow and then toss the platter off route. If there are no available trays, you can build an anchor near the edge of a crevasse, clip in, and lever your derriere right out over the abyss. Use sticks, rocks, or pinecones for the “heavy work,” then finish with a bit of toilet paper. If you’re camped on a glacier or a snowfield, snow patties work better than TP.
Clean cooking. Keep a tidy kitchen by polishing off every scrap of food and drinking your rinse water. When camping on snow, pour your wastewater into a sump hole or crevasse. Place your stove on the non-lichened side of a flat rock, rather than on combustible alpine flora, and scatter the rocks from your stove windbreak before decamping.
Junkyard critters. Bears often find caches, and they’re capable of climbing V0. Stash your food atop highball boulders, or dangle your grub bag off a cliff with your cordelette. If rodents are your worry, then keep your food inside your tent, away from the walls, or lever your larder off a smaller boulder with a ski pole. So, the next time you’re in the alpine zone, make a game out of stealth travel practices. Heck, it just might save your butt if you need to make a fast break from the clink someday!
Stealth rappin’ cuts down on our environmental impact.