How To: Follow A Climbing Code

A climbing code is not meant to be a step-by-step formula for reaching summits or avoiding danger but, rather, a set of guidelines for encouraging safe mountaineering.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
February 21, 2014

Freedom8Cover.pngMany years ago, The Mountaineers devised a set of guidelines to help people conduct themselves safely in the mountains. Based on careful observation of the habits of skilled climbers and a thoughtful analysis of accidents, those guidelines have served well not only for climbers but for all wilderness travelers.

CLIMBING CODE

 

  • Leave the trip itinerary with a responsible person.
  • Carry the necessary clothing, food, and equipment.
  • A climbing party of three is the minimum, unless adequate prearranged support is available. On glaciers, a minimum of two rope teams is recommended.
  • Rope up on all exposed places and for all glacier travel.
  • Anchor all belays.
  • Keep the party together, and obey the leader or majority rule.
  • Never climb beyond your ability and knowledge.
  • Never let judgment be overruled by desire when choosing the route or deciding whether to turn back.
  • Follow the precepts of sound mountaineering as set forth in books of recognized merit.
  • Behave at all times in a manner that reflects favorably upon mountaineering, including adherence to Leave No Trace (LNT) principles.

This Climbing Code is not meant to be a step-by-step formula for reaching summits or avoiding danger but, rather, a set of guidelines for encouraging safe mountaineering. It is recommended especially for beginners, who have not yet developed the necessary judgment that comes from years of experience. Experienced mountaineers often modify these guidelines in practice, making judgments based on an understanding of the risk as well as the skill to help control that risk.

Climbers sometimes question the need for such standards in a sport notable for the absence of formal rules. However, many serious accidents could have been avoided or minimized if these simple principles had been followed. This Climbing Code is built on the premise that mountaineers want a high probability for safety and success, even in risk-filled or doubtful situations, and that they want an adequate margin of safety.