American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Club "Expeditions"

  • Feature Article
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1966

CLUB “EXPEDITIONS”

During recent years, a number of climbing or outing clubs have sponsored “expeditions” to mountain ranges in foreign countries. Participants in these outings are often solicited by mail or by advertisements in mountaineering magazines. Members of these “expeditions” frequently have no contact with expedition personnel until they meet in basecamp. Such outings are very different in structure from the small expedition in which all members share the joys of participation in organizing, outfitting and leading. The following suggestions are directed to persons who are considering participation in a club “expedition.”

Locate someone who has been on previous outings with the organization and find out from this individual everything you can about the group and about persons responsible for planning the “expedition.” Know personally at least one climbing leader, not merely by acquaintance, but to the extent of having climbed with him. Determine from this leader the names of the other leaders, their abilities, and their experience as leaders. An experienced climber is not necessarily a good or an experienced leader.

What are the qualifications required of those joining in the expedition? If there are none, or if “anyone may go,” beware.

Once you are in basecamp and ready to start climbing, be sure that everyone in your party has the technique to handle all facets of the terrain of the ascent, including rescue techniques appropriate to the terrain. Some leaders do not check the abilities of the members of their parties.

Another aspect which should be checked by every member of a climbing party is whether or not the party has adequate equipment (ropes, prusik loops, snow pickets, ice screws, etc.) for the ascent, descent, and a reserve for emergency — not to mention possession of “the ten essentials” by each climber.

If you feel tired or unacclimatized, do not let yourself be forced into going on a climb by the pressures of having a short time in the area, or of being determined to make an ascent because you spent a lot of money getting there. An exhausted climber is generally an unsafe climber, and imposing your own inability upon a party without its knowledge is both unfair and dangerous.

Our long-term emphasis upon hard hats applies to foreign climbing also. A climber who takes a bouncing fall on ice or who tumbles into a crevasse, may find that a hard hat can save his life or at least minimize injury to the head.

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