Airline Tickets

Sometimes the cheapest tickets aren’t the best deals. Many climbers who have taken the lowest price in the past are now willing to pay a bit more for better service. Read the fine print that comes with your airline tickets. Particularly with cheap fares, the restrictions can be deal killers. And don’t underestimate the added stress that comes with economy flights. While you’re ticket-shopping, it’s Worth considering the value of frequent-flyer miles that you may get with one airline but not another (check their alliances); these could help on your next expedition. Also remember that a 7 A.M. departure means arriving at the airport at 5 A.M. (or earlier) and waking a couple hours before that—a rough start on a long travel day.

Another huge issue is the baggage allowance. Cash-strapped airlines will hit you hard if you run over the limit; this can run into hundreds of dollars per person. Old tricks, like wearing gear on board or checking one bag with a skycap and another at the ticket counter, no longer work due to enhanced security and computerized information. Even if you don’t exceed the weight allotment, there can be hidden fees that you discover only at the airport.

Typically on international flights with U.S. and Russian carriers, the allowance is two checked bags that weigh no more than 32 kg each (total of 64 kg),. However, this may decrease, and many other airlines (usually european fly company) restrict the checked baggage of passengers in economy class to a total of 27 kg, business class to a total of 30 kg, and first class to a total of 40 kg. Be cautious about taking a layover for sightseeing in a hub city, particularly if you’re switching airlines for the next leg; you may be in for an unpleasant and expensive surprise. The layover prevents you from checking baggage through to the final destination; you must claim it and later check it back in. For example, if you purchase a ticket from United Airlines for travel to Kathmandu, you may fly with United to Bangkok but with Thai Air the rest of the way. Going straight through to Kathmandu presents no problem, but if you stop over in Bangkok for a few days, you have to check in with Thai Air, which may have a lower weight allowance for baggage. Many airlines calculate the excess baggage fee at 1.5 percent of a standard economy ticket per kilogram, so it can be a very costly visit.

Should you be traveling during the height of tourist season, it’s quite possible you won’t be able to get a seat on the day you desire without an advance reservation. Flights within the region or nation you are visiting will have their own regulations, particularly when they involve propellerdriven planes. In some cases, even the passengers are weighed.

Emergencies

Hey, bad things happen. We’re all gamblers, and sometimes the dice—and stones and ice chunks—don’t land the way we would wish. Unfortunately, the consequences of even a minor accident can quickly snowball into a major epic. Although many expeditions bring extensive medical kits to base camp, little of this makes it up onto the mountain where injury is more likely to occur. In short, climbers need to be able to deal with most situations on their own—hence all that first-aid and rescue training that you’ve accumulated over the years (right?!). Before you start the climb, have a discussion with those who stay behind about how long they should wait for your return.

During the climb, team members need to keep the communication channels between each other open. It’s all too easy for climbers to secretly harbor fears and doubts, afraid to speak up because the others might think less of them. Instead of keeping mum, respect your inner voice and make your concerns known. Have a discussion about the worsening weather, the avalanche potential, or personal health problems. Talk these things through, and you may find that the sixth sense of others is also setting off alarm bells.

Rescue Procedures

Should a situation suddenly deteriorate into an emergency, pause for a moment and take a couple of deep breaths. Resist the urge to panic. As quickly as possible, gather the pertinent facts, weigh the possibilities, consider any and all solutions, and make a plan of action. Depending on the circumstances, all of this could take place in a matter of seconds or a couple of hours. Under most circumstances, selfevacuation is the best procedure. Delaying for help to arrive wastes precious time. Improved communication to the outside world allows inexperienced climbers to call for help for relatively minor injuries. Since you were a good scout and did the research in advance, you know the necessary contacts and procedures for getting help.