Mountain climbers don’t just climb together, they rely on each other to get to the top of a peak and then back down safely.

Their success and safety can depend on good communication.

There was a piece recently from Outside magazine about two Deaf climbers who have their own system for communicating when they’re up high.

Scott Lehmann and Shayna Unger have known each other since high school, and they’ve been climbing together for about a decade.

They both love being out in nature, catching beautiful views, and pushing themselves and each other to reach a goal.

Mountain climbing can keep your arms and legs busy, and both Lehmann and Unger use American Sign Language as their primary form of communication.

The language also relies heavily on a person’s arms and hands.

On a mountain, you can’t always stop the climb to sign to another climber.

And even if you can, they might not be close enough to see what you’re signing.

Lehmann and Unger told Outside that they’ve developed other ways to stay in touch while they’re climbing.

Sometimes this involves making very large gestures, like an X with their arms if they’re trying to say stop.

If they’re roped together, either of them can get the other’s attention by pulling on the rope three times.

Rope or no rope, they will look in each other’s direction every few minutes to see if there’s anything they need to discuss.

They have also used smartphones as well as pen and paper to communicate with other climbers.

Unger and Lehmann have launched a project to climb the highest peaks on each continent, known as the Seven Summits.

They’ve said they didn’t have any Deaf climbing role models when they started.

But it appears future Deaf climbers will.

Some mountain climbers like to travel far and wide.

There are few places on this planet further and wider than an island in the south Atlantic Ocean.

It’s about halfway between Argentina and South Africa, there are no permanent residents and getting there is not only really hard, it’s only possible a few times a year.

It does have a fitting name: Inaccessible Island.

How Two Deaf Mountaineers Thrive on High Peaks (Outside)

The Questionable Rewards of a Visit to Inaccessible Island (Atlas Obscura)

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Photo by Esin Üstün via Flickr/Creative Commons