Mountain Equipment and Safety
In mountainous terrain, the synergy between safety and mountain equipment is crucial.
Safety amidst the peaks hinges on a foundation of common sense and an acute awareness of our limits. Yet, it’s equally imperative to recognize that the right equipment not only enhances safety but also grants us a heightened freedom of movement compared to ill-suited gear.
Having been born and raised in the Dolomites, I’ve proudly served as an Alpine Guide for numerous years, affording me a wealth of experiences with people in mountain environments.
Regrettably, even today, I encounter individuals venturing into the mountains without the requisite equipment, and worse yet, with outdated and unsafe gear. Hence, the equipment we carry into the mountains must be of top-notch quality and comprehensive in its functionality.
What should I take when I go to the mountains?
What follows is for the summer season. I’m going to limit myself here to a list of what I consider to be indispensable together with a few items which could well be useful. An overly heavy rucksack is a burden on a walk but it is undoubtedly better to have something with you that you don’t need rather than risk not having the equipment necessary if you get into difficulty.
All necessary equipment must be put into a backpack which is essential to a comfortable trip and reduces fatigue. It is important to take with you a rucksack which is big enough for everything you need for your trip – 25-30 litres.
Inside your rucksack:
- A first aid kit should never be missing.
- Water bottle / Camelbak for water.
- Multifunctional knife.
- Spare shirt and socks.
- A couple of nylon bags for waste, to store used clothes, to protect spare clothing, especially in case of rain.
Obviously the clothes you bring will depend on the time of year and the area you’re going to but the following are indispensable in the mountains: waterproof wind jacket, long trousers and walking boots.
Your walking boots are probably your most important item of clothing so they should be chosen with great care according to the type of terrain you’re going to and above all they must be comfortable (if they are new you should try them out before going on long walks).
Remember that the weather can change very quickly in the mountains and a sunny day can quickly become wintry so you should never be without a warm layer in your rucksack.
A warm headband for your temples and ears is light and can be extremely useful.
I purchase a significant portion of my climbing gear from my trusted local store, conveniently located just below my apartment. However, not everyone, like myself, resides in an area with numerous specialized mountain equipment stores. Furthermore, if one doesn’t have a clear idea, unfortunately, not all salespeople are genuinely knowledgeable and experienced in the field. It’s not uncommon for the less experienced buyer to end up with an unused 11mm rope or a Via Ferrata set with a screw-lock carabiner that always seems to close at the least opportune moment.
For this reason, don’t wait until the last moment to buy your harness, backpack, or any other mountain equipment. If you don’t know where to buy and have a knowledgeable and trustworthy friend, ask for their advice (but beware of friends who claim to be “experts” 🙂).
Online shopping warrants a separate discussion: buying mountain equipment online can be a viable alternative, but you need to know where to “click.” Personally, when I can’t find what I need here in Cortina, I turn to online platforms for climbing gear or other items. However, searching for mountain articles on the internet is not as simple as it may seem. Sure, there are numerous online stores, but where should you make your purchase? Thoroughly verify the competence and reliability of the seller, and seek detailed information about the product you’re interested in – not once, but twice.
Via Ferrata Equipment
Anyone going on a Ferrata trip needs the following technical equipment: helmet and harness, ferrata kit.
It is vitally important that this is top quality as your life will depend on it! mountain equipment
For more detailed information consult the Ferrata page.
Rock climbing gear
Climbing equipment should be chosen according to the route you intend to climb and as I assume that climbers know what equipment they need I’ll just make a few quick points here. On long routes in the Dolomites two twin ropes are advisable as, in the event of bad weather or unexpected developments, a double rope descent is quicker.
As far as rope length is concerned, 55 or 60 meters are usually enough. Longer pitches are not a good idea because resistance makes it difficult to pull the rope up again and it can be difficult to communicate with your climbing partner.
Nutrition in the Mountains
Nutrition in the mountains plays a crucial role, whether it’s a short day trip or a challenging hike. Just like a car needs fuel, our bodies require energy to function. The energy is supplied by the food we consume, and as we know, there are various types of foods and drinks. Within our bodies, foods transform into energy, but each does so in different ways and timeframes. Therefore, it becomes essential to choose foods that are easily digestible, assimilable, and provide the right energy intake.
In the example below, you’ll find a simple list of foods recommended for day trips. For more detailed information, readers can explore a rich bibliography and numerous online resources.
- Two hard-boiled eggs or a sandwich with a light omelet.
- Salami, mortadella, and fatty meats that can induce thirst are not recommended.
- Fresh seasonal fruit.
- Dried fruits.
- Biscuits or crackers.
- Energy bars.
Regarding dietary supplements and products for athletes, both natural and synthetic, the wide range of specialized brands and products may lead to misguided choices. For this reason, I encourage readers to consult their trusted medical professionals.
Lastly, hydration is crucial: alcoholic beverages, sweetened, and carbonated drinks should be avoided. Generally, 1 liter of water is sufficient. If venturing into snowy conditions on a sunny day, consider bringing 1.5 liters. In colder weather, warm herbal teas are recommended instead of diuretic beverages like tea.