Professional mountaineering guide Adrian Trendall is a big believer in the body-boosting, head-clearing power of places on high.
Based on the Isle of Skye, he has summited the Inaccessible Pinnacle – one of the UK’s most iconic and fearsome peaks – hundreds of times. He has also pursued mountaineering across the globe, successfully completing legendary climbs including El Capitan in Yosemite and the north face of the Grande Jorasses on the Mont Blanc Massif.
Here’s why he loves mountaineering – and how you can get involved.
“Think of mountaineering as a kind of three-dimensional game, involving every muscle in your body but requiring a lot of thought, planning and psychology, too. Physical attributes alone won’t make you a good mountaineer. Fears have to be conquered, tired muscles coaxed into overdrive, and stressful situations overcome. It’s a huge mental and physical challenge, but the rewards are correspondingly greater.
“High in the mountains, you’ll experience life on the edge – it’s an almost existential experience. There’ll be excitement and adrenaline. You’ll visit new places and meet new people. And even the most mundane things will feel incredible: a mountain-top mug of instant coffee tastes better than the most expensive artisan latte, simple foods taste amazing as you replace lost calories, and a night camping above the clouds will be seared into your memory forever. You’ll return from the mountains empowered, with your mental batteries recharged. Why? Because the mountains offer true escapism from the hustle and bustle of our tech-centric, modern lives.
“Scrambling and easy mountaineering hits the sweet spot between walking and technical rock climbing, enabling you to experience beautiful, almost magical, scenery without needing to be a highly-skilled climber. It’s a constant movement through a spectacular environment with the added bonus of technical challenges and endorphin-producing exercise.
“Big mountains and cliffs abroad are an obvious attraction, but the UK offers a huge variety packed into a small geographical area. In fact, you’re better off undergoing your mountaineering apprenticeship in the UK. There won’t be any problems with altitude, no language difficulties, costs will be cheaper and adventuring locally is better for the planet. Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands are all highly recommended, and Skye’s Cuillin Ridge is a world class venue.
“For beginners looking to get into mountaineering, simply start small and work up. Walks and scrambles in mountains may lead to more technical stuff involving climbing and abseils. You could perhaps join a club, find like-minded adventurers, and even hire a guide to teach you new skills.”
Kit check: 5 essential mountaineering products
Salewa Mountain Trainer 2 GTX Men’s
This is an extremely solid, tough-as-nails shoe designed for technical scrambling. The robust Vibram outsole has aggressive lugs, a deep heel breast, and a toe ‘climbing zone’ for edging over rocky cracks and crevices. A durable 1.6mm suede leather upper with 360-degree rubber rand ensures abrasion resistance, while a Gore-Tex lining and clever ‘stretch gaiter’ provides waterproofing.
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody Insulated Jacket Men’s
This jacket is filled with premium quality 850 fill power goose down for an unrivalled warmth-to-weight ratio. It’s ultra-light at just 305g, but feels far warmer than many heavier alternatives. It keeps out the cold effectively, without feeling boxy, and has a streamlined cut. You also get an adjustable hood, hem drawcords, smooth-lined collar, elasticated cuffs, two zippered pockets and a stuffsack.
Gregory Alpinisto LT 38 Backpack
The Alpinisto LT 38 is a minimalist, streamlined alpine pack with premium features, superb versatility and a lightweight yet durable design. The straps, toggles and buckles are great for securing an ice axe, poles or crampons; the 38L interior has ample space for all your gear; the hip-belt is removable; and the back system and shoulder straps are amply comfortable.
Black Diamond Vision MIPS Helmet
Whether you’re taking on exposed grade three scrambles or technical winter ascents, the Vision MIPS helmet will keep you safe. It is Black Diamond’s most durable foam helmet and features the cutting-edge ‘Multi-directional Impact Protection System’, which protects the brain during falls. You also get excellent side and back coverage, ventilation ports, suspension system and chin straps.
Páramo Enduro Winter Mountaineering Trousers
With warming insulation, sturdy waterproofing, and good features including elasticated ankle gaiters, scuff guards and full-length side vents, the Enduro Tour are multi-purpose winter trousers suitable for hiking, climbing, skiing and ski touring. If you need something a little less hardcore, the Enduro Trek Trousers (£150) should fit the bill.
Words: James Forrest