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Principles of mountaineering

Mountaineering Principles

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Mountaineering is a sport that has grown in popularity, and many people want to participate in it. Mountaineering enthusiasts want to push the limits, and they are now scaling the highest peaks in the world, as well as the highest peaks in Iran. There are also people who want to participate in different forms of mountaineering, including going on glacier hikes and rock climbing. The sport is popular because it poses many physical, mental, and environmental challenges that keep participants engaged and motivated by the thrill of a new challenge each time they attempt to summit a mountain. The goal of this article is to provide a guide to mountaineering, with a focus on safety. This article is for any individual who wants to learn the basic principles of mountaineering.

A Guide to the Principles of Mountaineering

By observing a series of simple rules such as correct steps and proper energy distribution, you can avoid the common injuries of climbing sports. Many mountain climbers have bad and seek the aid of physiotherapists due to not following these simple principles. Therefore, before climbing on Iran Tours, it is better to learn the principles of correct hiking in mountaineering.

Why is the way of walking important in climbing?

The first active limb of every climber in the sport of mountaineering is the foot. If a person can use this organ correctly, he will suffer less fatigue. Achieving this goal requires coordination between the respiratory system and other body parts. The correct step is actually the type of step that does not make a person short of breath.

Warming Up the Basic Principle of Climbing

The first principle to prepare for any sport is to warm up. Climbing is not an exception to this rule; Heating is done in two ways: Firstly, by warming up the body, by stretching and stretching at the beginning of the movement, and secondly, by warming up the body with a very slow walk and a short step at the beginning of the movement.

Ways to Prevent Knee Joint Wear

We should know that the only way to prevent wear and tear of the knee joints is to strengthen the quadriceps muscles (above the knee) in addition to observing the following points. The best exercise to strengthen these muscles is frequent, regular, and appropriate running. If you don’t have a good time and place to run, you can use this simple and efficient method:

Sit on a chair; Raise your legs and straighten them in front of you, hold for a few seconds and then release. Repeat this again. In the following days, as the leg muscles become stronger, you can hold them up for a longer time or even put small weights like books or pillows on them and increase the number of repetitions.

The Correct Way of Walking in Mountain Climbing

First of all, you should wear the right shoes. The article “Guide to buying and maintaining climbing shoes” will guide you in this field.

When moving, the distance between the legs should be equal to the width of the shoulders and should not be opened too much.

The body should be perpendicular to the horizon in any standing position.

First, the toe and then the heel should be placed on the ground.

At each step, the supporting leg is straight; then, the next leg is lifted off the ground. Do not climb with bent knees.

All the soles of the feet should be placed on the ground; Using tiptoes causes premature leg muscle fatigue. Of course, on steep slopes, you step on your toes.

Correct stepping is the same steps with a regular and uniform rhythm.

On slopes above 20 degrees, it is better to climb in a zigzag manner. Of course, as the slope increases, the angle between the two zigzag lines should be smaller, and the length of the zigzag path should increase according to the width of the maneuvering area.

It is very important to return the muscle to its original state; Because every muscle size is tighter; in its contraction state, it absorbs more energy.

Stepping should be slow and continuous.

Regulating your breathing and pace prevents your heart rate from rising and ultimately premature fatigue. In normal conditions, both steps of inhaling and exhaling and breathing must be done through the nose and completely (diaphragm in the term).

Breathe through the nose because breathing through the mouth causes dry throat, thirst, and colds and throat infections in cold weather.

On steep slopes and at high altitudes, breathe out with each step and open the tail with the next step.

After every hour of movement, five minutes of rest is required.

For any climb, the most crucial issue is the correct distribution of energy.

How to Move Downhill

The first step of preparation when moving downhill is to wear another thick and soft sock inside the boot and to prevent excessive foot movement in the boot by tying the laces tightly.

Four Stages of Downhill Movement

Steps taken downhill should be more balanced than steps taken under the influence of gravity alone.

In each step, the foot is placed on the ground with the broken knee, and the legs move regularly and continuously next to each other. Walking downhill is not as difficult as walking uphill, but the severity of injuries should not be ignored.

It is in the descent that skin scratches are created, and the knee joint is displaced, and the ankle twists; Therefore, the downhill walking speed should not be much higher than the uphill walking speed.

When going downhill, a person should take his steps with authority and control and pay attention to his speed. It is known that the truck moves in any gear going uphill in at most one gear lighter than it downhill. Also, pay as much attention to resting on the downhill as it does on the uphill.

Descending the Mountain

Bend your leg slightly from the knee and move flexibly.

Place the heel first and then the toe on the ground.

If the slope is steep, descend in a stairway and from the side with your feet together.

In sand skis, you must bend your body a little, sink your heel into the sand, and land.

Walking Method on Long Hikes

Balanced steps, steady rhythm, and uniform speed are essential in mountaineering. An important method of hiking is the step-and-rest method. In this method, the walker’s speed is adjusted, and energy is saved and consumed in a balanced way. Walking in the mountains requires a lot of energy; Therefore, the legs and lungs need a short rest during movement. In the slow step, as there is a moment of pause in each step, the number of breaths should also match this flow. For example, in normal conditions, every three or four steps should be synchronized with inhalation and every three or four steps with an exhalation. In this example, the steps work faster than the person’s lungs; In fact, the steps should rest in the resulting pause.

At altitudes where the air is thin, the lungs need to pause and take a step every two, three, or five breaths. At high altitudes, climbers must consciously take deep, rapid, continuous breaths. At low altitudes, the leg muscles need more time to gain energy. An essential factor in marching with rest is mental and spiritual harmony. When the summit seems far and unreachable, one should trust this method and cover the remaining distances slowly and steadily. In this type of movement, steps should be taken more slowly than usual so that breathing does not interfere with talking. If you have shortness of breath while moving and cannot talk easily with others, it can be concluded that the speed of walking is high. A slow, steady pace requires less constant rest and standing and is much better than a fast pace that requires more rest. A hiker must be able to walk on steep slopes with coordination and control his breathing for at least an hour without rest. A beginner should not walk more than ten kilometers a day, especially when the altitude is more than 1500 meters. In snowy and rocky areas, this value decreases accordingly.

Determining the Correct Method Walking in Mountain Climbing

Determining the correct method of walking depends on several factors, including physical strength, amount of load, distance, and time. Therefore, for the proper walk in different areas, it is impossible to achieve single and identical conditions, But the basic and significant factors that play a decisive role in the correct march can be stated in the following order.

Marching speed and determining its correctness.

Adopting a method based on which the speed of walking is adjusted, and the body’s energy is saved.

Necessary breaks during the march.

A: Walking Speed

Paying attention to the two parts of the body that exert separate controls on the limbs will help us determine the correct pace of our walking: the heart and the lungs.

In the first place: “heart”; Because everyone can move as fast as their heart rate allows, when taking a step requires a lot of effort and is accompanied by an increase in heart rate, this indicates that the walking speed is high.

Second: “Lungs”, since a person can have as much speed as his lungs allow, certainly when the lungs are desperately searching for fresh air, it can be concluded that the walking speed is high. The presence of any of the above signs means that we should reduce the speed of the march. Therefore, it is known that the legs of a mountaineer are his second heart and lungs due to the direct connection between the power of the legs during the march and the heart rate and breathing of the lungs.

The speed changes during the march; At the beginning of the march, especially in the morning, it is better to move slowly so that the body can become aware of our wishes and harmony can be established between the activities of different organs, including the eyes, feet, heart, and lungs. After walking for a while, the person is more prepared and moves with vigor and good physical strength. In fact, the connection between the eyes, feet, heart, and lungs is established in a favorable way, and with the flow of blood in the body, the related muscles and nerves become soft and show more and better mobility for reaction.

B: Speed ​​Regulation and Energy Reservation

To learn how to move correctly on slopes, imagine that you are standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs. To start, bend your knees as far back as possible and place the knee joint as comprehensive as possible and in a straight line and perpendicular to the ground. Then take a step forward and keep the back leg straight and in a fixed position. After placing your foot on the first step, move your other foot and take the next step. This time, you should keep the leg that is on the first step straight and steady. This change of legs should be followed throughout the march. In this way, the weight of your weight is placed directly on the leg bones, and the resulting pressure is transferred to the ground as much as possible. In this way, each leg gets a chance to rest for a moment while walking. It is better to practice this movement on the stairs than experience it on the mountain. When walking, the steps should be taken parallel first to the sole of the foot, and then the heel of the foot should be placed on the ground. Therefore, you should not put the toe on the ground from the outside or from the heel first. The leg muscles are responsible for moving the lever and the joints, not for bearing the heaviness and pressure resulting from the body’s weight; That’s why it is very effective to pay attention to the size of the steps and their distance from the ground. In performing sports movements, the body’s natural size plays an important role, and experience has proven that the size of each person’s steps in marching is equal to the natural size of his waist.

The distance of the steps from the ground should not be more than the ankle; Because otherwise, the muscles spend more energy when moving and walking and get tired and weak sooner. Paying attention to the path through the eyes is vital, and it cannot become a habit and a normal practice. The mountain is an environment that is affected by many natural forces, and for example, the path you have experienced once before may change due to the fall of the mountain, flooding, avalanche, and dozens of other effects. Ignoring the points mentioned above may cause damage to muscles and joints.

C: Resting During the Climb

During the early hours of the day, when the body is not yet tired, the stops should be very few and short. For those resting, it is better to stand up and lean on a tree or boulder, take the backpack off your shoulder, put on a robe, and take a deep breath. During the following hours, the marching body needs complete rest. Meanwhile, walkers can sit in a suitable place, and while the legs are straight and stretched on the ground, one can eat sugary food and drink. Psychologically, it is better to rest at the top of the slope than at the bottom. Also, try to choose a place that overlooks good views and allows you to take pictures. Doing this will take your mind off your tired legs and muscles. Do not rest in the areas overlooking the wind because the wind and cold air will quickly close your muscles.

D: Correct Breathing in the Mountain

Breathing should be done deeply and correctly; Contrary to what most people do, the volume of the lungs should not increase from the sides. As a result of this type of wrong breathing, the volume of the chest increases.

Correct breathing, the volume of the lungs increases from the lower region, which is associated with an increase in the volume of the abdomen. This form of breathing can be seen in the abdominal area as a distinct and clear pulse.

Therefore, in terms of comfort, the waist should never be tightly tied with a belt or the like; the belt should be tied as low as possible. In this method, it should be tried to guide the exhaled air to the lower part of the lungs and collect the lungs from the exhaled air. Exhalation should be done after a pause of a few seconds and at least three seconds following inhalation by pressing the diaphragm to the lower part of the lungs with maximum evacuation.

How to Move in Mountaineering?

 In general, it can be said that the classic formula of stepping is as follows:

Coordination of step with the breath, movement speed adjustment with the slope, and difficulty of the path.

In summer, resting at regular intervals and in windless places.

Continuous movement in winter.

Not too fast and not too slow (usually slow at first and faster after warming up).

Moving with open eyes, taking into account the surroundings and the return path, taking into account distances, obstacles, and times.

If necessary, take notes and collect as much information as possible.

Carefully and without risking too much.

When climbing, you should divide your energy in such a way that you get less tired. Walking fast uphill, especially for those who lack the necessary physical fitness or carry a heavy backpack, will not only cause shortness of breath but also require more energy. If this action continues, the person will be a so-called climber. Most of the people who suffer in the mountains are those who have not distributed their energy well.

The step length should be adjusted by considering the height and other factors such as the path’s slope.

Long steps can be taken in almost flat places with a slight slope. But in uphills and steep areas, the distance of the steps should be considered shorter so that fatigue reaches its lowest level.

When walking, the entire surface of the foot should be placed on the ground. But in some uphills, you can also use the front part of the foot.

One of the most essential points in mountain climbing is proper breathing during ascent and descent; Because with proper breathing, enough oxygen will reach the body. Especially at high altitudes, due to the decrease in the amount of air, the body needs to consume more energy to get the oxygen it needs.

When inhaling, you can use both the nose and the mouth (with a ratio of 70 to 30%). Using only the nose, considering all its advantages, is sometimes not possible due to the smaller volume of incoming air.

When exhaling, the air in the lungs should be taken out of the mouth strongly (strong exhalation) so that the volume of dead air in the lungs can be reduced as much as possible and oxygen-rich air can be replaced.

The number of inhales and exhales depends on factors such as height, physical fitness, the slope of the path, length of steps, lung volume, air humidity, and finally, the position of the head and neck.

Usually, it is not possible to accurately determine the duration of a specific route. But some methods can be used to obtain this time with acceptable accuracy.

One of these methods is known as Naismith’s Rule. By using this rule and having large-scale maps (scale 1/5000 or larger), we can get a good approximation for the time of doing a program before doing it.

Naismith’s Law of Estimating Program Completion Time

It takes 1 hour for every 5 km of walking on flat and simple paths.

It takes 1 hour for every 3 km of climbing on slopes that make you struggle.

It Takes 1 hour for every 1 km of rough track, thick bush, soft snow and and.

For every 500 meters of elevation gain, 1 hour is added to the total time.

For every 1000 meters of altitude loss, 1 hour is added to the total time.

In total, for every 5 hours, 1 additional hour is considered for wasted time and rest.

You should get used to resting for about 10 to 15 minutes after about 2 hours of continuous climbing so that your body can prepare itself for the next activity.

When crossing steep surfaces, you should move perpendicular to the surface; in this case, put your feet perpendicular to the horizon.

You can also use a walking stick on the slope.

Avoid climbing slopes full of gravel and sand as much as possible; Because by spending a lot of energy, you will travel a small distance. In these types of places, one should choose a place so that a person does not slip backwards, when going down from these types of surfaces, one should put the heel on the ground first.

When going down steep slopes, it is better to choose shorter steps. Keeping a proper distance with the person in front is also one of the obligations. So that if the person in front suddenly stops, the balance of the previous person will not be disturbed, and he will probably not hit the person in front. On the other hand, if the balance of the person behind is upset, the person in front has enough time to react. We must remember that when going down, bend the knees and lean the upper body forward according to the path’s slope, provided that the body’s center of gravity remains within the body’s support surface.

Be sure to go in a spiral (zigzag) slope of more than 20 degrees both when ascending and descending. Because in this case, the pressure on the body will be much less. Remember that the steeper the slope, the smaller the angle between the two zigzag lines and the shorter the length of the zigzag path, and the length of the zigzag path becomes longer according to the width of the maneuvering area.

When going up the slope, it is better to use walking sticks and avoid unclear paths as much as possible.

Paths with low gradients can be climbed directly. Most of these routes are the routes that the mountain dwellers of that region traveled in the distant past, in suitable weather conditions, for different reasons, which have now attracted the attention of mountaineers. Such paths are often located along rivers or on the edge of mountains.

No matter how we are climbing a slope, the pregnant leg should always be straight after each step. This action causes the pressure of the body weight to be transferred from the leg muscles to the bones and tendons. Otherwise, the leg muscles must constantly bear the weight of the body. This will cause premature fatigue.

Crossing River and Water Currents

Ways to cross rivers and the effects of water depth, water flow speed, and river width are one of the issues faced by mountaineers, which are discussed in this article:

As much as possible, try to use bridges or passages that allow crossing rivers, even if their distance is far and you have to travel a greater distance. Enter the water only when necessary and unavoidable. If you have to cross the water for any reason, take these points into consideration.

Essential Items for Crossing a River

A) Air temperature: getting wet in cold seasons can endanger your life. Before proceeding through the water, it is necessary to ensure the availability of extra dry clothes and also the possibility of generating heat (such as access to wood for lighting a fire). If these conditions are not met, we strongly recommend returning. It is especially crucial to be able to dry the shoes.

b) Water depth: The greater the water depth, the greater the need to support the team members. If the depth of the water is lower than the neck of the team members and you have a single rope as wide as the river, it will be easier. In this case, one of the strong members of the team must first cross the river by tying one end of the rope to himself, and then with the help of one of the other members of the team on this side of the river, tie the two ends of the rope so that the rope does not stretch too much and hangs a little. Then the rest of the team should cross the left or right side of the rope according to the flow of water. But if the depth of the water is higher than the neck of the team members or you don’t have enough individual rope, you will have no choice but to swim to cross the river. Also, even if the depth of the water is up to your chest, but the pressure and speed of the water is higher, it is better to swim through it. To swim, first, take off your backpack and place it under your chest, and then put your hands on it. Then cross the river on all fours and like a dog. Preferably, swim individually so that if something happens to someone, others can help him.

c) Water flow speed: The higher the water flow speed and depth, the more inclined you should swim in the direction of the river flow, even if you manage to reach that side of the river 50 meters below. Note that saving your life is more important than saving your bag, and if you feel that keeping your bag can endanger your life, leave the bag and save yourself. It is also necessary to pay more attention to the rocks in the middle and around the river, as well as the possibility of a waterfall at the bottom of the river.

d) Width of the river: If the river’s width is small, a stick or baton can be used for support.

Deserts are another form of the iconic natural landscape in Iran, so make sure to check out our Iran Desert Tours​ for more information.

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