Passion for mountains
Enthusiasm for 5000 ft
Adventurous scrambling
Komradery for camping
S nacks to share

  1. Plan a hike and review & print maps and satellite pictures found Read the guide book!. Consider snow conditions, avalanche forecast, weather and team. Is this a realistic goal? Do the same for the alternate destination, in case the weather turns.

  2. Read and Learn from the Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills: 50th Anniversary It’s the best book to learn the basics. After that, its practice and time. Every mountaineer should own one! Before and often after the hike, you can look up questions. Also good, but often wrong is There are multiple right ways of doing things, and many wrong ones. The test is: Will it keep you safe, even if others mess up?

  3. Tell someone responsible where you go, and how long, including a buffer for late returns. Tell them what to do, who to call (S&R, friends), unless they know! So if you are overdue, someone starts looking for you!

    I personally tell them to give me 24 hours extra and I am equipped for that delayed return. If you have to Bivi, it will still take time to get home the next day.

    If you go on an afternoon stroll and want to be searched that evening, don’t count on it, but if you do, make arrangements with capable friends. Rescue may come the next day if the weather is good. Remember, expensive helicopters don’t fly on a whim, nor in bad weather.

  4. Take only friends who master the hike physically, technically and emotionally. If the can’t, it’s your duty to turn around and bring them home safely… and if you want to hike with them again, without scaring them to much! Everybody liked to be challenged now and then, but not frightened!

    When inexperienced, go with people you know and can trust. Speak Up when you have concerns and don't wait till you panik!

    If you have a medical condition, let the leader know. Don’t be embarrassed. It will be more embarrassing having 10 people standing around you, starring at you and not knowing what to do.

  5. Pack the 10 essentials AND carry a bivi-sack, no matter where you go. Friends have stayed overnight in the Summer on Mt.Si and Persis, because it got dark and they had no flashlights, and of course no Bivi-bag either, so it was a cold night.

    Bivi bags and the 10 Essentials are not for camping, they are for emergencies! People get lost, injured or want to take that sunset picture.... and you have an emergency and need the 10 Essential

    Just because you carry a tent for backpacking above the tree line doesn't mean you don't need a bivi bag? THINK AGAIN:
    (1) You leave the tent at highcamp and if you get stuck up higher, you need one!
    (2)Ever tried pitching a tent in an 80 mph wind? Just crawl into your bivi-bag and wait for better weather!
    (3)Your TWO WALL TENT rain fly tears and leaves you with a mosquito net, stitched to a tent bottom, surely not a good situation. You need a bivi bag as a back-up, unless you HAVE A ONE WALL TENT, which without poles can substitute as a bivi bag!!

  6. Lead slow enough to get everybody to the top, carry their pack if needed. There is no purpose to walk ahead and then wait, and get cold. That is stupid, besides being inconsiderate, and demoralizing the people in the back. The fact is that if you stay together, the chance that somebody wants to turn around is much slimmer. And the summit is more often reached! Carry their pack, do whatever it takes to also get them there. Hike within sight, wait up for safety and comradery , or hike alone.

    Don’t kill other people’s summit chances, by getting there first, then getting cold and descending, while others are still going up! Many tired friends will turn WITHOUT having reached the summit.

    It is ok not to hike with slower people. But it is not ok and detrimental to your own summit goals THAT day, to stay together. On future hikes, don’t take slow ones, but you have invited them along THAT day, so stick together and make it enjoyable for all.

  7. Speak up early if team goes to fast, your pack is too heavy. Ask for help. Don't wait till you are exhausted and out of energy. Walk your own speed, not the speed of the sprinters out of the gate. It’s an endurance hike, the first 500ft don’t count, the last do!

    If friends don't wait for you, LOOK FOR NEW FRIENDS!

  8. If someone quits, split party with experienced members in both. Do not let someone go back alone! Safety and security must be guaranteed. Don’t let somebody wait alone. People alone do irrational things, and in the mountains, that’s too dangerous. Consider bears or crazy people, tree wells, injuries or getting lost.

    Most fatalities reports start out “He become separated from the group…” If you practice good Mountainiersmanship, HOW is that possible?

  9. If lost and in the dark, camp out before you are exhausted, too cold to make camp or its too dangerous. On the way up, keep an eye for good places to find shelter in case of an emergency. On the way down, camp before being exhausted. Making a survivable camp takes energy! You need to stay dry and warm BEFORE you make camp.

  10. Be equipped and ready to bivouac or turn around with plenty of time to spare. Be sure everybody else it equipped too! Raingear is needed for a bivi-bags night, or you get wet from condensation. Weather changes, people get injured and somebody has to stay overnight. Or you get lost and flashlights run out of batteries. Thus you need a multi person bivi bag.

  11. Watch Hypothermia and cold feet BEFORE they happen. Deal with it in a safe spot. Warm up toes and change socks, and use plastic bags so this pair won't get wet. There is NO SUCH THING as water proof. Warm fluids DO HELP with hypothermia. Walking slowly too, if you have the energy. 1-3 people snuggling up and massaging you DOES HELP. Being together in a sleeping bag, nearly naked can safe someone's life. You got to get heat and energy (hot chocolate, or sugar) into that person's body. Don't be shy in an emergency. Avoid sweating and getting cold in the first place, by adjusting clothing and speed.

  12. Altitude Sickness and the need for speed: Speed uphill gets you into trouble. But once you are sick, you need to immediately descent. Drink water while descending. The hike is over for you and the team. Descend with a friend!

    To avoid this in the first place, walk TURTLE SPEED, use rest steps. The slower you walk, the less likely is it to get sick, period. So if you or some of your team members get sick, you made a mistake by walking to fast.

    Drinking lot of fluids. Got a headache, drink 1/2 litter of water, it will fix it. Also drink some electolytes, because pure water will eventually hikk you.

    Ginkgo, Iron (for two weeks before) and certain medications help alleviate symptoms. “Carry high and sleep low” means camp below high points of the day, eg if trekking in Nepal. On Rainier, it helps to move up slowly, or have a layover day at high camp! If your buddies walk to fast, look for new friends!

  13. Climbing Ranier, Denali, EverestIf you have to, do it slowly. On Rainier, people get up at midnight, I don’t get it, but fine. However, is it really necessary to speed to the summit to see they sunrise? Got a hot date that evening?

    The chance of success for the team really increases with slowness. You can sprint the last 500 ft if you must, but don’t do the first 500 ft ! Most anybody can make it up to 14,000ft. Above that, it’s a different issue. But the only reason people don’t make it to 14,000 ft is speed and lack of water, sleep, conditioning, stupidity.

    After not hiking for 10 years, I once wanted to climb Adams. Too out of shape to join anybody, I started hiking at 9pm on a moon lit evening. I hiked all night with baby rest steps. I rested in my bivi bag at 2 am for a snack, and got to the summit at 9AM the next day, happy, relaxed, no stress. While others were panting for air, despite only having done ½ the mountain in 3 hours from the high camp that morning, with some of their friends not making it at all because of the speed. You decide what is more sensible!

  14. Ask for a rope if uncomfortable with condition no matter what. Don't be a hero!

    Rope new people up BEFORE the fall! Inexperienced people DO NOT know their own limits and capabilities! Even if nobody leads, it's your moral duty to keep them safe.

    Don't lead stuff without considering others & descent conditions. Getting to the summit is only 1/2 the trip. Most accidents happen on the descent, when people are tired, it's getting dark, attention to detail fails.

    Take rope work serious, your fate is tied to your partner and the team. No matter how late, or how wet or how tired you are, do things the same may, avoid short cuts in procedures, be deliberate. Make sure everybody else is too.

  15. Save some energy, food, water and time for the descent. Especially on long hikes with counter climbs on the descent, make sure the team has enough strength to master the task and conditions. Be sure the team drinks & eats enough. The team is only as strong as the weakest link! You want to succeed? Make sure everybody else does too!

    You can burn 6000 calories/day and sweat 2-6 liters and loose electrolytes. These make your heart beat, so drinking too much pure water doesn’t help, but eventually leads to disaster. Minimum drinking should be 2-4+ liters/day. Also have sugary foods, like grape sugar (or glucose) , which go into your blood stream instantly without needing to be converted.

  16. Preventing the need for 1st Aid First of all, stop people from clowning around, they are an accident waiting to happen, and you don't need one. If it does happen,

    (1) Stop the bleeding; (2) Make sure their breathing is under control; (3) Reassure them and avoid panic and shock;

    (4) If mobile, continue down. If not, but transportable, move them down with a stretcher, carrying them, sliding them in the snow. MOVE THEM OFF the mountain if possible. Moving slow even if it takes all night is better than having to stay overnight and get cold. Don't leave and hope for a helicopter to come. If they are not moveable, leave your warm gear, water and food, have someone stay with them and go for help.

  17. Not to the very top! Do not go onto cornices and spires just to reach the last 5 feet. You made it, everybody will believe you made it, there is no need to prove that you are at the very very top. Frankly, often it's a stupid attempt... and may accidents happen right at the summit, falling down the other side while taking pictures!

  18. GOP=Good Operating Procedures: Plan ahead, anticipate, be ready for anything. And do it the same prooven way, even if others offer a quick simpler solution that doesn't seem quit right. Repetitiveness makes it easy to do it when you are tired, when it's dark and to tech others.

  19. Don't throw things: and if you see others, stop them. People may be below you! It goes without saying, but unfortunately, it has to be said.

  20. Navigation On ascent, plan the descent, make markers, look back, anticipate darkness. Weather and snow conditions change, Tracks disappear, or multiply by other groups. Write on the MAP where you are, what to watch out for later. Write locations/times on the map.

    Starting from the parking lot, always know where you are. Once lost, it is infinite most difficult to regain your location with any certainty. Besides it’s good practice to see what the terrain looks like vs the map.

    Take Compass Bearings BEFORE it gets dark or foggy, then it’s too late.

    As a leader, don’t be mislead by routes other take. Plan your own safe route and follow your plan. Source Lake is a classic route where the blind is leading the blind (Stay in the trees).

  21. Hand signals: OK (1 arm up one down, or thumbs up), HELP (both arms up), UP-WARDS ( Both thumbs up arms up) DOWN-WARDS (Both thumbs down, arms downwards), KILL ACTION (CUT OF NECK), STOP (Arms Crossed with two fists) RIGHT (both arms right), LEFT (both arms left).. help when its windy.

  22. Helicopter Rescues: Don't count on them even with SPOT. The local sheriff may not have any money, or experience to fly into bad weather. Sometimes they are highway patrol helicopter, not mountain rescue ones. Plan to hike out.

    If a helicopter is called, PREPARE the pick up spot and the victim! It needs to be flat, no trees, no loose branches or ropes or clothing that can be sucked up and hit the rotor! If a landing is planned, ONE PERSON only to GUIDE the helicopter in with above hand signals. If the pilot can trust you by being organized, the better the chance you will be picked up.

    If a hoist rescue, be aware of the hoist and the litter swinging around. Have the victim wear all available warm cloth. The rotor wash creates such a wind chill that, below freezing, will freeze your face and exposed flesh !! If patient is passed out or will soon, attach a note what happened!!

  23. Watch out for avalanche danger, have cords/beacon, keep distance, yet be close enough to immediately dig your friend out. Minutes do count!

    Do not rely on Avalanche center forecasts or test holes dug 1000 feet away. Snow conditions are different on every little slope. They can change 10x per hike!

    Spacing on open slopes, nothing is ever 100% safe. Use Avalanche beacons or cords, they don’t help you in your back-pack.

    If crossing a real potential slope, have a LOOK-OUT, while one at a time crosses fast. When the look-out crosses, you watch. Some on the way down, don’t let your guard down!.

    When crossing, BE READY: Loosen your backpack straps/belts, snowshoes, ski poles to shed them.

    Start running like hell 45% downhill out of the avalanche field. If you get into it, swim like a dog, do everything possible to stay on top, and I mean everything. Work harder than you ever have, you very life depends on it. If you get underneath, make an air pocket in front of your face.

    The look-out warns you first and then watches you disappear and marks the stop with a reference on the horizon. BELOW that spot is the search area. Keep a look-out for secondary slides.

    DO NOT GO FOR HELP, start using ski poles as probes and start digging when you find something. Minutes count!

  24. Use common sense, comradery and considerations of others. While common sense can not be taught, comradery and considerations for others should always be used to make this an enjoyable hike for all. It's a WIN/WIN situation: If you want to succeed and have a good experience, make sure others have too.

    Don't sign up for hikes you are not qualified for. If in doubt, ask the leader.

    Don't turn this in a photo safari. If you are fast, great. If you are slow, do less extraordinary activities, so the team doesn't have to wait for you. If you stop for whatever reason, step aside, off the trail, so others can maintain their speed.

    Don’t went your frustration infront of the entire team if you have a personal issue with somebody. Take the person aside or talk to the team leader. When you see somebody making a mistake don’t correct them in a lecturing or embarrassing way, coach them.

  25. Have fun, don't take all this too serious, and come back home in one piece. It's not a must do event, the mountain will be there next year too. It's more important to remain friends and enjoy each other, and it's certainly not worth a frozen toe or a life.

  26. Idear or Suggestions? I am all ears, sent them to me

Valentin Caspaar is a member of Austrain Alpen Club, & Tröddler Mountaineering Group in Graz, Austria, and a past member of The Mountaineers in Seattle. He lives in Seattle and hosts the PEAKS Adventures & Potlucks meetup group.

For more information and where to buy a bivi-sack, go to ePeaks-Shop , or email