The use of helmet in alpinism

The use of helmet in alpinism

"The helmet, our great friend in the mountains"

 

Why do alpinists and climbers worldwide use helmets? Because of the risk of rock fall(caída de piedras in Spanish, chute de pierres in French, Steinschlag in German).

 

One of the major hazards of alpinism is the fall of rocks, be it individually or in small avalanches. The stones fall at the speed of a missile; it is frightening to hear them pass by.

 

The fall is usually caused by the warming sun setting loose stones which were previously stuck to the mountain by ice. It can occasionally also be triggered by fellow climbers.

 

How can we be safer up in the mountain?

 

1) Use of a helmet is mandatory. Your chances of survival are exponentially higher. Even if you are hit by a rock, most chances are that you will only be stunned, not injured.

 

2) Get off the mountain as early as possible, before the midday sun has warmed the upper slopes of the mountain.

 

3) Use a descent route that gets you out of the foreseeable rock fall path.

 

4) If regular rock fall is already happening, as it is the case in Mont Blanc’s Grand Couloir, position one of the climbers as a lookout, while the others descend. When a falling rock is seen or heard, he or she will cry out: “rock fall, hit the ground !!!!”, and the mates will immediate jump to the facedown position.

 

Pachi Navajas, Director, AdvenCulture

 

AdvenCulture is a company specialized in Mountaineering, Culture and Leadership. We organize expeditions in Mexico, the Alps, the Andes, the Caucasus and other wonderful places on the planet.

The use of poles in mountaineering

The use of poles in mountaineering

is now widespread, due to its benefits.

What do they offer us?

 

Reduction of the work load

Research has proved that poles reduce the work load on our legs while ascending about 14%; during descents, it is close to 20%. For that reason, the use of poles enable us to prevent muscular and joint injuries, speciallly on knees and ankles. It also minimizes accident and falls due to exhaustion.

Balance

Our balance improves, as we have four support points. The probability of falling is lessened, particularly in descent, so our safety is enhanced.

 

Performance

All this translates into higher performance; energy is spared, which will enable us to complete our climbs or expeditions.

 

Upper Body

Naturally, the use of poles implies a slight effort on our upper body, if used properly. Poles are not meant to be leaned on with our full weight, they must become a part of us. Except when on ocassion they help us not to lose balance, we must follow this rule: if the pole were to suddenly disappear, we wouldl still keep our balance. It is a subtle support.

Technique

By observing experienced climbers, we will notice that the pole accompanies their motion, resulting in a gentle, harmonic stride; the poles become an extension of their arms.

Conclusion
An alpinist who uses poles consistently, will be at the end of his/her career in much better shape that someone who hasn’t used them.