Protective climbing equipment
Mountaineering requires the use of protective equipment to provide security to each member of the party. To the novice mountaineer the array of equipment can be bewildering but each has its own specific function. There are different types of equipment for summer and winter routes including: carabiners, belay device, slings, nuts, hexes, friends, quick-draws, nut-key, pitons, ice-screws, dead-man, pulleys and mechanical ascenders.
Here’s some key equipment:
An ice ax is essential for winter or alpine mountaineering routes, providing stability for safe progress across snow and ice covered terrain. For most general mountaineering routes an ax with a shaft between 60 and 70cm (23.6 to 27.5in) will be ideal, but your final choice will depend on your height and intended routes.
Navigating and determining your exact position in mountainous terrain can be extremely difficult, especially when compounded by the effects of snow which hides footpaths and many useful landmarks. Whilst the ability of any mountaineer to be able to navigate on their own is essential, GPS receivers do have their uses, especially in an emergency situation.
Altimeter and barometer
An altimeter can be a very useful tool to aid navigation on the mountain. In calculating your altitude, you can determine exactly where you are on the mountain. A barometer allows you to keep an eye on changes in atmospheric pressure giving an early warning of approaching bad weather, allowing you to either get off the mountain or to seek shelter.
Many GPS receivers have built in altimeters and barometers or you could consider an ADC (Atmospheric Data Centre).
Distress beacons are small, lightweight and inexpensive but can prove invaluable to help steer rescue parties towards your position in low light and at night by emitting a powerful flashing light signal.