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Is it ok to go alone to the mountains

Can I go to the mountains alone?

The urge to write the following has been my recent involvement as an expert in rescue operations and finding out the causes of accidents related to committing the solo alpine ascents or mountain hikes. Having a certain inclination for such walks for myself, I would like to present in this small article some of my conclusions and recommendations, which are based, unfortunately, on some sad experience and unhappy stories.

Alone in the mountains - solo ascents

If you put the question directly - is it even possible to go alone in the mountains - the classic answer that can be received within the frame of any standard safety rules will be NO. To go to the mountains alone is violation of the basic safety rules.

However, for many mountain lovers, being in the proud mountain solitude is the deepest and most desirable pleasure. No one can blame them for this, as many people find much more worthless escapes from their tight circle of everyday problems. And no safety rules, reasonable arguments or accident statistics will not help - anyway, there will ba many adventurers who want to climb somewhere higher and getting into the trouble. In general, there is no use to persuade such people - they will do as their heart pushes them.

Alone in the mountains - solo ascents

So, I would rather answer this question less categorically - one can walk alone, but with the utmost care, without going even one step beyond his experience and observing all the safety guidelines.

The fact is that in the solo being in the mountains, those situations that in the group format would remain just annoying troubles, in the case of solo climb, can become a serious or even fatal problem. The obvious fact is that any emergency situation in the mountains, regardless of its genesis, is as dangerous as a delay in receiving assistance is possible. Accordingly, if there is a sufficiently large and strong team, assistance in case of need can be obtained immediately. But if you are alone?

Alone in the mountains - solo ascents

Unfortunately, not everyone understands the real level of danger in the mountains, because even a leg tucked on a mountain trail can cause a tragedy if you cannot get help timely and still cannot solve the problem by yourself. Any danger in the mountains, be it bad weather, rain, blizzard, avalanche, mudflow, rockfall, etc. aggravated many times in the case if one faces the elements alone. Even worse, if elementary safety rules are violated (failure to provide information about the route to rescue services, straying away from the route, disregard of information about your location), in case of an accident, assistance will be extremely difficult, it will require more resources and may lead even to human deaths. So, if you want to climb alone Mount Elbrus, for example, you need to be aware that there will be big teams of rescuers and volunteers to look for you in case if anything happens, risking their lives. And most likely they will not find you alive. Or will not find at all.

Alone in the mountains - solo ascents

So, if the decision to go to the mountains alone is taken anyway, what rules should be respected, so that if the risk of falling into an extremely unpleasant situation not be avoided, but at least reduced to the minimum?

Unconditional to the compliance should be the following rules, common to all the mountain activities, but gaining vital importance in the case of a solo routes:

1. Existence of the detailed route, indicating all the trails, bivouacs, control points, dates and time of entry and exit from the route
2. Obligatory local rescue service registration
3. Existence of the insurance covering the risks according to the route specifics
4. Availability of sufficient equipment for confident navigation on the route and the ability to use this equipment
5. Availability of emergency communication channel (cellular, satellite, radio)
6. The presence of a controlling person responsible for the implementation of the "emergency scenario" in the event of communication fail - during solo climbs in the mountains that is the most important segment of the safety rules.

I will explain the last point in the more details, because that especially cannot be neglected – on this point depends the time necessary for coming to your help, in case if something goes wrong. What is an additional controlling person for? The fact is that rescue services are responsible for organizing rescue operations if necessary, but they are not physically able to track your movements along the route. The most that can be expected from them – this is a definite professional reaction in the event if you do not leave the route within the stated time limit. As a rule, in case of an accident with a lone mountain hiker of climber, it is already too late. Therefore, when walking solo, it is imperative to consider a communication channel through which you will be monitored from outside more carefully and, if necessary, - the pre-specified “emergency scenario” can be initialized

Alone in the mountains - solo ascents

How does it work on practice? Going on a solo mountain trip, you discuss with a reliable person that every day (and if the route is difficult, several times per day) you share your location in a certain way - this could be a satellite tracker, SMS with coordinates, if there is a cellular connection, and so on. With this person, you agree in advance which set of actions should be done in case of loss of the communication - the accuracy of these actions if something happens, means for you no less than the opportunity to stay alive - this should be understood by you and the person with whom you agree on this interaction. Usually, the “emergency scenario” involves immediate informing the local rescue service of a possible emergency situation, with the passing to them all available information about your location and exact details of the route section on which the communication failure occurred. That is, the person who is controlling you should have all the necessary information for possible and prompt contact with those services that can provide timely assistance, and transferring to them the details of your insurance and information about your route. And this person should understand the whole responsibility that he takes on himself - after all, any delay in actions under the “emergency scenario” can lead to tragic consequences.

Alone in the mountains - solo ascents

So in conclusion. If you are going to the mountains alone or by a small weak group (with your girlfriend if she is not the winner of Ninja Warrior), you should be aware that as a result of your mistake or carelessness, not only you can suffer. A great number of troubles will come to your loved ones, as well as a lot of unexpected and undesired duties fall on the strangers who will be involved by their duty or conscience in the situation you have created. Being aware of your own actions and possible responsibility, follow the elementary safety rules explained above - and enjoy the wonderful world of mountain nature with all the good for your physical and mental health, with friends or alone - let the rescuers do nothing – the less work they have – the more happy are the mountains!

Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.
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