mountain sport types

Types of mountain sports. What’s your favourite?

If you are one of those who prefer nature and you like to be fit, you’re in the right place, because enjoying a mountain sport might be your better choice.

These activities can be practiced professionally or as a hobby, individually or in a group and, in addition, there isn’t age limit to practice them. You can realize that when you ask to Carlos Soria Fontán, a well-known Spanish mountaineer who at 80 years of age continues to overcome challenges in mountain paths.

Today on Walkaholic we want to talk you about the kinds of mountain sports. There are diverse options and they’ve in common that they all bring great health benefits.

In some cases require great preparation and skills to practice these mountain challenges. In others, you just need to go outside and enjoy the adventure.

Which are the mountain sports?

Hiking

what is hiking
Trekking in Ordesa / Photo by Guillaume Baviere, License (CC BY-SA 2.0)

It is an activity where you walk along routes and paths, it’s a mixture between sport and tourism vibes. The difficulty level might be low or moderate considering the accumulated slope and distance of the route.

Hiking has become a sport with exponentially growing followers since it is not a competition rather a healthy lifestyle that can be practiced by anyone.

The health benefits of hiking are many: it helps burn calories, prevents obesity, increases muscle mass, maintains bone density, helps control hypertension, improves mood and reduces anxiety and stress. Also, it enhances concentration, improves mood, raises self-esteem and there are even studies showing that these walks in mother nature companion increase creativity.

If you are going to plan a route you must to regard the signs of the approved trails, the necessary equipment and, of course, do not forget to see the time that awaits you on the road.

Trekking

what is trekking

Trekking is a walking related sport too, but unlike hiking, this activity requires more physical effort and better fitness. Sometimes it takes place during several days, away from main roads and frequently the routes are in distant places with little or no transport infrastructure.

Trekking is usually practiced on trails and routes already established and marked. Although there are dare walkers who plan free walks. In the latter case, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risks of accidents and to avoid getting lost.

Physical exercise, contact with nature and low cost are some of the advantages provided by trekking compared to other types of mountain sports. Being a sport that takes place over several days, it’s common to spend the night in tents, bivouac, or shelters.

Climbing

what is climbing
Climbing in the Benasque Valley / Photo by Quico Gimeno, License (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Climbing is a sport where: rock walls, steep slopes or other natural reliefs characterized by their verticality are climbed. 

There are several types of climbing. Each one has its own particularities and style:

  • Free climbing: the climber can only use his/her hands and feet in order to progress. Specialized equipment is only used as safety measures. For example: harness, “express tapes”, rope or helmet.
  • Classic (or traditional) climbing: it’s climbed following a route established by the first climber secured to the rope and leader. Installing the locks, either in natural anchors or in recoverable artificial anchors.
  • Sport climbing: it is a type of free climbing focused on sport performance, so they usually have great difficulty level. Anchors are previously attached to the wall by mechanical or chemical systems strategically placed along the used track.
  • Artificial climbing: all kinds of material are used. Such as fissures, hooks, nails, among others, which help to climb the wall and serve as protection.
  • Solo climbing: the climber performs only with a rope, without companion to assure him. This is called “self-insurance” and it takes a lot of extra effort and skills.
  • Integral solo: this climbing is done without rope, insurance, or any type of protection that can help and save the climber in case of fall.
  • Psicobloc: climbing over the sea, on cliffs that have walls with enough collapse space to avoid hitting the wall or any obstacle in case of fall.
  • Ice climbing: it develops on an icy surface, although sections of rock can also be found. “Piolets” and crampons are used to advance. The tracks usually have fixed anchors, like sport climbing.

Alpinism

what is mountaineering
Mountaineering in the Alps / Photo by taquiman, Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Alpinism is an activity that consists of ascending high-altitude mountains, where different mountain sports are implemented. It is the oldest and most complete mountain sports practice.

A person who dedicates time and effort to Alpinism must combine knowledge of mountain skiing, rock climbing, artificial climbing, ice climbing. Also, he or she must have notions of orientation and a very good fitness.

In this practice of climbing the highest mountains in the world, besides a sport interest, for most climbers there is a goal of personal improvement that already exceeds the sport itself.

Beyond physical and technical skills, the alpinist must have the appropriate clothing to defy low temperatures. Accessories such as ropes, climbing tips, etc, will be needed too.

Cross-country skiing

what is cross-country skiing

Also known as mountain skiing or skimo. It is climbing a mountain with a ski specially designed for this sport and then descending it using the skis. It’s a demanding sport on a physical level.

The skis used for this activity are provided with seal skins at the bottom. This to avoid sliding over the snow. This mountain discipline requires at least a medium-high level of skiing, not due the slopes but because of the snowing conditions of the mountain.

There are three types of cross-country skiing:

  • Freeride: they seek perfect descents, vertiginous descents, jumps and adrenaline at its best. For them, the climb to the top is a necessary effort to achieve the descent.
  • Competition: they dream about being the firsts of reaching the top of the mountain and their maximum effort is used to climb at a very demanding pace.
  • Multi-purpose: this only consists about having a good time on the mountain and the goal is no other than the road and fun. Enjoying both ascent and descent.

Other types of mountain sports that you should know too:

  • Snowshoes
  • Rappel
  • Mountain biking
  • Nordic march
  • Mountain races

All mountain sports have benefits physically and mentally, however you must choose the one that better suits your level, experience or health status so you can enjoy the experience.

Do you practice any of these sports? Tell us, what’s your experience and advice when doing mountain sports.

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