It is a dangerous adventure. As one climbs higher and higher, the air becomes more and more rarified and breathing becomes more and more difficult.
To obviate this some climbers now carry a heavy apparatus from which they can inhale oxygen. The climber finds it really hazardous because at any moment he may stumble or slip and go crashing downwards.
The unbearable cold is another difficulty which climbers face. Then there are storms and blizzards. It is an ordeal to have to walk through snow in which one sinks to the knees. It is still more dangerous to climb upwards on ice where foothold is impossible and steps have to be cut in the ice with axes in order to make progress.
The cold is so severe that the climbers’ feet, toes and fingers suffer frostbite and become useless. The action of blizzard loosens huge masses of stone and ice which come crashing from above and may engulf all the climbers.
Many lives have been lost on account of these avalanches in the past few years. It is, indeed, wonderful that despite all these stumbling blocks, so many mountain peaks and summits have been conquered by various climbing expeditions.
No doubt, climbing requires special knowledge, skills and equipment. Mountain climbers must be in good physical condition and have good judgement. Even many skilled climbers have lost their lives trying to conquer challenging peaks.
Mountaineers must know how to use maps and compasses, because they often must find their way where there are trails. They must travel through dense woods as they approach a mountain and cross steep slopes and rock slides above the tree line on the mountain. Near the summit of a high peak, the climbers may have to scale steep rock faces and plod over snow fields and glaciers filled with crevasses.
In dangerous areas, climbers rope themselves together in groups of two, three or more persons. Only one climber may move at a time. The others brace themselves to pull the rope and keep the climber from falling if he should slip.
Climbers carry packsacks loaded with first aid kit, food and extra clothing for sudden changes in weather. Most climbers used to wear hobnailed boots before World War-II, but today they often wear rubber-soled boots.
Some climbers prefer flat or rope soled shoes, which do not slip on wet rocks. Climbers may also strap crampass on their boots for climbing on ice or hard snow. In addition, a climber may carry an ice axe to aid, in keeping his balance to cut steps in snow and ice and to stop himself his balance to cut steps in snow and ice and to stop himself from falling, They may also carry snow-glasses.