You should centre your weight directly over your feet at all times (whenever practically possible). Place you foot flat on the ground to obtain as much sole-ground contact as possible. Place your foot on the uphill side of grass tussocks and other level spots to avoid twisting the ankle and straining the achilles tendon ( something to be avoided in my personal experience, achilles injuries are very painfull and can take weeks to heal). You should rest between steps by straightening the knee after each step. Take small steps at a slow pace. Try to avoid steep angles of ascent or descent, taking advantage of any indentation in the ground.
When in a group a tempo (number of steps a minute) should be set according to the pace at which the group is moving. Since physical differences will mean that the tempos of two people moving at the same speed will not be the same, an interval of three to five paces should be kept between individuals. This allows each person to adjust their stride for changes of slope or terrain, enhancing their tempo, pace, and rhythm. Those at the end of the file will benefit from this interval, since the accordian effect will be lessened.
Terrain, weather, and light conditions affect the rate of climb. The more adverse the conditions, the slower the pace. Moving too fast, even under ideal conditions, results in early fatigue, requiring more rest halts, resulting in loss of climbing time. You can only move as fast as your legs will allow. The key is rest, good nutrition, proper conditioning and acclimatization, as well as the will to climb.
Breaks, though necessary, should be kept to a mimimum. When taking a rest, boot laces should be loosened and the body ventilated (through layer dressing). At the end of a days climb, a good rest will revive tired muscles.
The rest step, as described above, is used for steep climbing, though not exactly elegant, this slow, steady, halting rest step keeps the pace slow and rhythmic. This is much more efficient than bursts of speed, which are rapidly exhausting and require longer recovery.
There is much to cover in mountain walking, and for that reason I intend to make it a short series of articles. Look out for part two with more techniques for different terrain.
by: Chris Haycock