While climbing to the summit of a mountain, the weather conditions can become very difficult, posing as much of a challenge to the climber as the rocky and icy surfaces themselves. For the bigger mountain ascents, climbers may have to sleep on top of the mountain for several nights in a row. Finding some kind of suitable shelter from the elements is vital for climbers to be able to have the strength to make it to the top. In this article we will look at some of the kinds of shelter that mountain climbers take advantage of to survive in the upper reaches of the world.
On some mountains which are frequently climbed, a popular form of shelter is the hut ‘ sizeable huts are built with a central dining room and bunks (or even individual rooms, in some cases) for the climbers to sleep in, and can be paid for by credit cards in most cases. A staffed hut in the summer can be contacted, usually by phone, so that they know who is coming and can be sure to have enough space for you. If you are not going to be able to make it to a mountain hut you should let them know that you are canceling your reservation because the records kept my mountain huts are used to keep track of climbers and determine when a rescue search attempt must be made in the surrounding area. Mountain huts are most frequently staffed during the summer, and even during the winter the huts may remain open but without staff so that you can take advantage of the shelter that they provide (the winter huts may be free in these cases, and left open as a safety refuge for winter climbers). Some huts may offer a surprisingly wide selection of foods, from bottled water (which is usually flown in by helicopter) and sugary snacks to meals in the evening that are rich in carbohydrates. Staffed huts are most common in the alpine regions of Europe, and are known as cabanes in Switzerland and refuges in France.
When there is no hut to take advantage of, climbers may sleep in a tent. The standard four season tent is the most popular form of shelter that climbers make use of when they are staying out in the open above the tree line of a mountain. This helps to shield the sleeping climber from the wind, rain, snow and the outdoor temperatures. Another kind of shelter that climbers may use is the sleeping bag with bivouac ‘ an extra layer of insulation which can increase the internal temperature of the bag by five to ten degrees. Finally, in extreme situations the climber may construct a snow cave, hollowing out an area of snow to sleep in for the night. Surprisingly, this may be warmer and quieter than sleeping in a tent, although care has to be used in the construction to make sure that it is stable and safe. All of these techniques can be used to make for a safe climb to the top of the mountain.