Mountain Skills: Preparing for your expedition

Featured, Mountaineering

Plan the itinerary

  • Know your itinerary “by heart,” to discuss it knowledgeably with participants.
  • Be mindful of “bail-out” possibilities in the event of injury or adverse weather; know how to contact/notify emergency services.
  • Use a map and be able to explain the route.
  • Know where and when to address a particular issue.
  • Follow the plan exactly, or explain any deviations as they arise.

Prepare and maintain communal and safety equipment based on the number of expedition participants

  • Organize tents (including replacement parts) and sleeping pads.
  • Bring adequate cookware and dishes.
  • Bring a complete first-aid kit (refer to “Type of first-aid kit to bring for a multiweek trek”).
  • Possibly bring a hyperbaric chamber if the group is above 3,500 m for several days.
  • Check that all equipment functions properly before departure.
  • Ensure that the needs of potentially vulnerable groups within a party are protected (children, special needs etc.) and that sleeping and washing arrangements are appropriate.

For those working for a club or agency: familiarize yourself with its practices and be a good representative

  • Know the specification/description sheets for any trips you lead.
  • Anticipate the type of clients you’ll be leading, as well as their expectations.
  • Be welcoming to all participants, and have a complete understanding of the club or agency’s practices and policies.
  • Dress appropriately.

This article is an extract from the ‘Managing and leading a trek’ chapter of the UIAA Alpine Skills Summer handbook. The handbook is a compendium of the essential skills one must acquire in order to become a hiking, climbing or mountaineering leader.  The purpose of the handbook is to present tried-and-true techniques that can be learned and mastered only through formal training. 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.

Photo: Monica Dalmasso

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.