How To Get Started In Mountaineering

Everyone gets started in a different way, depending on circumstances, individual style, and motivations. At the very least you'll need the relevant maps, a daypack (smaller is better), water bottle, and "sturdy shoes" (to quote from Ormes' safety list). If you're gonna camp out you'll need a tent -- which can be as simple as a sheet of plastic and some cord -- a sleeping bag (and probably a pad), and probably some sort of dinnerware. If you're gonna backpack in, you'll need one of those kinds of packs and probably some cookware; if all your other gear is upgraded to the high quality/lightweight variety you'll be better off if not also poorer.

The first pieces of technical gear you should consider are an ice axe and a helmet. Each can be acquired for little more than $50. The latter can prove invaluable even for climbs considered to be "easy", especially on popular (ie, crowded) routes where loose rockfall is a hazard; the former requires that you take lessons (or spend the time to teach yourself) to learn how to use it safely and effectively. For any kind of mountaineering it's silly to take off without the proper clothing and a minimal amount of safety equipment (matches, knife, needle/thread, basic bandages, etc.). Please don't forget to throw in a trash bag. Beyond that it's all pretty much optional, though you'll probably be better off if you first think a little bit about what you're going to do.

Then all you have to do when you're ready to go is drive to the edge and jump in.