We have all heard the Boy Scouts of America motto “Be Prepared”, but what makes you prepared for your day’s adventure? Do you have the necessary skills? Have you planned in advance by researching your route or crag your climbing at or the hike you are going on? Do you have the proper equipment or tools? Maps? Guidebooks? What about extra items incase you are benighted or get “misplaced” in the backcountry or climbing mid-pitch? All these things should be taken into account before you embark on your adventure.
Lets talk about the basics, the 10 essentials. These are more geared toward hiking and other outdoor activities but many of these items can always be in you pack whether you’re climbing, biking, backpacking, or skiing the backcountry.
*This is a basic and general list, more specialized activities require more preparation and specialized equipment and skills. Pictures of gear are only intended as visual aids*
• Navigation- guidebook of the crag or route, Map of the area, etc.
• Compass and GPS to supplement your maps if needed (should not replace an actual map and compass, and the skills to use them).
• Sun protection-Sunglasses and sunscreen, long sleeved clothing or a hat.
• Extra food- incase your day is longer than expected or you encounter someone who is having problems. Don’t forget about your pet! They may need extra food too.
• Extra water- incase your day is longer than expected, or there’s no places to fill up, have a water container and water for your pet also. (You may consider bringing water treatment options like chemical treatments, iodine, UV filters, or a pump filter if there is access to potable water).
• Extra clothes- layers and rain gear. Be ready for changes in the weather, temperature, rain or snow, etc.
• Headlamp- you may be out later than expected and will want a light to make it back to the trailhead or your car.
• First aid kit- and the knowledge to use it. (consider taking a wilderness medicine course, having a great first aid kit is no supplement for the knowledge and skills to use it).
• Fire starter- lighter, flint and steel, chemical fire starters, waterproof, matches, etc.
• Knife- it may come in handy in a pinch.
Prior preparation is key- research your route, trail, canyon, or climb. You should know where you are going and have an idea of the surrounding areas, and consider TELLING SOMEONE what your doing, where your going, and when you’ll be back, along with a “panic” time so if you don’t come home they can alert the proper authorities (IMPORTANT: tell this person when you are back so they don’t initiate a false search while you are at you favorite eating establishment or watering hole celebrating a successful adventure).
• Check the weather, if may be sunny and warm when you leave and raining or snowing midafternoon that same day.
• Have a backup plan if the weather changes or some unforeseen event changes your day’s itinerary.
• Know your way out or off the climb if you must bail out.
• Communicate with you adventuring partners and be on the same page with them.
• Have extra food and water for your furry hiking companions.
This list is a baseline for general outdoor activities; backcountry skiing, rock climbing, alpine climbing, Canyoneering, ice climbing, and other specialized activities require specific gear, skillsets, knowledge and experience to be done in a manner that lessens the risk to you and your companions.
Do you have the necessary skills; knowledge, equipment, and ability to do you’re attempting to do? This is applicable to any activity and goes back to prior preparation and planning.
If you do not have the skills and equipment necessary to accomplish your goals safely, consider a different adventure, take a skills course, or hire a certified guide from a reputable company to assist you in achieving your goals.
AMGA Single Pitch Instructor