Get Vertical: How to Manage Steep Mountain Hunts

Jul 30, 2023B.C. Hunting, Tips & Advice

We all know the situation. There’s a steep mountain that you know will lead to a big ram, bull or billy. However, getting up and back down that mountain without completely burning out your legs can be an issue. 

It’s easy to be overly optimistic and underestimate the severity of most inclines. Many of us have been there before: you made a hard charge up the mountain, while your hunting partner read the landscape and proceeded with zig zag patterns. Your impatience didn’t put you any further ahead – and wasted a lot more energy. Here is an approach to help you tackle steep inclines on a mountain hunt:

Reading Breaks in the Landscape

Looking up at a steep mountain tends to build anxiety and the desire to conquer it quickly. Take a few steps back before starting and patiently observe the landscape for breaks, tiers and natural fall lines. You can follow these features laterally to locate more gradual inclines. The route is slightly longer but much easier in the end. Visualize the route you will take using these features and follow that pattern to the top, creating your own set of switchbacks as necessary.

Hunting in BC

Work Toward Goals

Sometimes, the only route is directly uphill and you must battle to the top. Breaking the hill into segments makes it mentally easier to move forward. Pick an object in the distance and make it your goal. Take a break when you reach the goal and stretch your legs. Set the next goal after a short rest and get moving. Visible goals make long distances more manageable.

Working the Decline

Heading downhill can be equally as difficult as the uphill. Your legs are often more worn from hiking all day, putting you at a greater risk of falling or twisting an ankle. Utilize the same switchback approach on the downhill and take your time to find sure footing when possible. It’s easy to rush down, but slow and steady will prevent you from taking a fall.

British Columbia Hunt

Slow and Steady

When you’re working a steep incline, remember that slow and steady is better than a short sprint. It’s better to slowly plod along and take breaks less frequently. When you move slowly, you can avoid lactic acid buildup in your legs and keep going. When you try to hammer out quick bursts, the lactic acid buildup will have you stopping every few minutes at shorter and shorter intervals each time. This slow pacing is a time-tested technique that mountaineers use to ascend big peaks.

Mountain Hunting with Kawdy Outfitters

At Kawdy Outfitters we hunt rugged and remote country in northern British Columbia. We offer high-adventure hunts for stone sheep, moose, mountain caribou and mountain goat. To learn more, please explore the rest of our website. For details, availability, or any other questions, please contact us. We’d love to help you plan your next adventure!

Written by Zach Lazzari  | Photos by Ryan McSparran