Mountain climbing can be an exhilarating, rewarding and life changing experience. Although climbing a mountain can be one of life's greatest accomplishments, it is more than panoramic views, the satisfaction of reaching the summit, or a true wilderness experience. Mountain climbing is a great challenge that involves risk, danger, and hardship. Mountain climbing is not for everyone, although some can find it irresistible, as well as frustrating and sometimes even deadly. There are qualities to mountain climbing that bring inspiration and joy in a pursuit that is more than a pastime or a sport; it is a passion and sometimes a compulsion. A distant view of a mountain may speak of adventure, but the mountains only hint at the joys and hardship that await the climber. Climbing a mountain takes much preparation, knowledge and skill. The mountain climbing environment is indifferent to human needs and not everyone is willing to pay the price or able to survive the hardship in exchange for the physical and spiritual rewards the experience can provide.
There are many different types of climbing. There is hiking on the lower elevation mountains, traditional climbing on the moderate elevation mountains, scaling rock walls of mountains, climbing through snow and ice, climbing glaciers and alpine trekking. Hiking includes various terrain such as rock, dirt, brush, talus and scree, which is loose rock fragments from the crumbling mountain, snow and streams. As the elevation gets higher it becomes necessary to use additional equipment for the climb such as an ax, ropes, a harness, runners and carabiners. When climbing glaciers or climbing in the ice and snow, it becomes necessary to use crampons and gaiters. An ax is just what it sounds like, an ax, however it is an invaluable tool. It is used for additional balance when crossing a stream, climbing through scree which can be very slippery, serving as a cane when going uphill, and a brake when going downhill.