Underwriting provided by:
The Laura Moore Cunningham

Surviving the Climb

Beyond the obvious needs of food and water, every mountain climber learns how to pack a backpack with all the essentials needed to survive in the outdoors. Always tell someone where you are going and when to expect your return.

  1. Water: Take enough water to get you through the night, if needed. Your body needs to stay hydrated as you exert energy. 2-3 liters is essential for an all-day climb. In the summer, many people use water bladders in their packs. Be careful of these in the winter, the tubes can freeze up pretty quickly. If you are on a long trip and think you will be near water take a water filter, purification tablets, or a SteriPen.
  2. Food: Always take more food than you think you will need, especially light-weight, high-protein snacks.
  3. Clothes: Winter climbs require layering. Take more layers than you think you will need, just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. Avoid cotton. Use synthetic wicking materials so the moisture will dry off your body. Take hats, gloves, and dry socks too. A down coat packs light and is great to have when you get a chill. Summer nights can get very cool too, so pack accordingly. Well-fitting boots or hikers are essential.
  4. First Aid: Even if you're going on a two-mile hike it's always good to have some basic first aid items on hand. You never know when you or a buddy might twist an ankle or skin a knee. Bandages, pain reliever, and anesthetic are some basics to carry in your pack.
  5. Shelter: Always carry a space blanket for emergency warmth and shelter from the elements. They are very cheap and fold up easily. Many mountaineers also carry a compact bivouac shelter.
  6. Lighter, matches, or fire starter; and extra TP to help start a fire
  7. Head lamp, or flashlight
  8. Leatherman or Swiss Army knife
  9. Maps, GPS, cell phone
  10. Miscellaneous items: sunscreen, lip balm, sun glasses, sun hat, mosquito repellant