Basic Mountain Terminologies

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As trekkers it is important for us to be aware the following basic terminologies that we practice in the high altitudes;

Massif – a compact group of mountains is called as a Massif. Khangchendzonga massif and Annapurna Massif are examples.
Summit – The highest point at a mountain. Not necessarily a peak.
Mountain Pass – The route through a mountain range or a ridge that needs to be ascended, crossed and descended is referred as a Mountain Pass.
Ridge – The high edge of a hill or a mountain is termed as a Ridge.
Valley – a low area of land between hills or mountains is a Valley.
River Bed – The area of land over which a river flows is called a River bed. Mostly river beds are sand and small stones/ scree based.

Scree – Scree is a mass of small loose stones that form or cover a slope on a mountain. It is generally slippery in nature.



Glacier – a slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains.
Moraines - a mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier, typically as ridges at its edges or extremity. Can be further classified as Lateral, Medieval and Terminal moraines respectively.
Crevasse - a deep open crack in a glacier, be it open or hidden is called as a crevasse.
Verglass – A thin coating of ice on an exposed surface as stone, boulder or cemented surfaces.



Campsite – The patch of land area used for pitching tents (camping) is called as a campsite.
Base camp - A camp from which mountaineering expeditions set out or from which a particular activity can be carried out is termed as Base camp.
Ascend – Climbing in upward direction is ascending. Gaining altitude with lower amount or oxygen is the process.
Forced Ascends – Gaining altitude in a single day about 1300 feet and above is termed as a forced ascent. Even though forced ascends are against the acclimatization rules, sometimes they need to be done due to lack of camping site or choice to trek due to unforeseen conditions.
Descend – Trekking from a higher ground level to a lower ground level is called as descending. Losing altitude and gaining oxygen is the process.
Acclimatization – The body getting used to the change in altitude, change in the level of Oxygen, change in climate is a process that needs to be done slowly and steadily while trekking. Trekking above 9000 feet in the mountains, calls for this process of Acclimatization. We speed up the process by hydrating ourselves, resting well and having the local available food and ensuring to ascend at a gradual pace.

*The above images have been taken from the internet for reference

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