Mountain Skills: Criteria to consider
when planning a route

Featured, Mountaineering

Making good decisions regarding group safety is not always easy, especially if these decisions prove unpopular. Before reaching the right decision, you must have the right tools. This includes assessing the following criteria when planning a route:

It is the responsibility of the group leader to evaluate each outing (mountaineering, trekking, climbing, etc.) in terms of:

  • The route’s overall difficulty: technical rating, condition of the mountain, his or her familiarity (or lack thereof) with the route/route-finding, etc.
  • Participants’ competencies: experience, conditioning, acclimatisation, equipment, etc.
  • Objective hazards: ice- or rockfall, avalanche, poor weather, etc.

By weighing all the aforementioned factors, the group leader can modify the route, plan for decision points (“Do we keep going or do we turn back?”) and consider other alternatives.

Once you’ve committed to a route, turning back can be quite difficult. As such, the initial choice of route is an important one.

Select your route ahead of time (e.g., the night before), at home or in the hut.

This article is an extract from the ‘Decision Making’ chapter of the UIAA Alpine Skills Summer handbook. The entire guide is now available to purchase as a digital download.  To purchase the guide please click here.

Previous extracts from the Guide can be found on our dedicated Skills page.

About the UIAA Alpine Skills Summer Guide

The UIAA Alpine Skills Summer guide was first published in 2015. Produced in collaboration with the Petzl Foundation, the guide and has been well received worldwide and is currently available in five languages. To mark the launch of a digital version of the publication, the UIAA is running a series of articles from the guide designed to help hikers, climbers and mountaineers develop their skills and knowledge of the mountain environment.

The guide was developed specifically as a reference document for trip leaders and instructors of club and federations within the UIAA – an aide memoire for climbers and mountaineers who attend training courses delivered by instructors and guides who have gained qualifications accredited by the UIAA. Now open to the wider climbing and mountaineering world, the handbook’s four modules focus primarily on summer activities. However, a specific winter guide is currently in production.