Is having color vision deficiency a problem for mountaineering ? Can one so, pursue mountaineering as a career ? Do professional mountaineering schools and expeditions accept climbers with color vision problem for high altitude (7000ers or 8000ers) climbing, as sponsored athletes ? To clarify, as per the free online tests underwent as of now, it is moderate-to-strong Proton color vision defect, Red color blindness (Protonopia). Also my sibling is having it (genetic).

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    Obviously (see the answers given so far) it does not get quite clear what you mean with "career" in this context. Do you think about getting a mountaineering professional in terms of a sponsored athlete or a mountain guide or do you just want to attend commercially guided mountaineering tours? Also the type of color vision deficiency is of interest as it makes a huge difference. Could you please clarify? Apr 6, 2014 at 19:07

2 Answers 2


It depends on the nature of the deficiency. The most common form, red-green colorblindness, isn't a problem: I'm not aware of any situation where color coding is used to convey safety-critical information. On the other hand, if you've got rod monochromacy, climbing mountains is probably a bad idea.

  • Why actually? In night, everyone sees monochrome. I can't think any situation climbing would be an issue. Yes, being mountain rescuer would probably be an issue, because they would have problems seeing red or blue clothing... Apr 6, 2014 at 20:49
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    Rod monochromacy isn't just greyscale vision: it also makes it difficult to impossible to see in daylight.
    – Mark
    Apr 6, 2014 at 22:17
  • I didn't know rod monochromacy is so severe... Apr 7, 2014 at 5:23

I don't know whether e.g. mountain guides for expeditions are accepted if they have color vision deficiency. But as a participant I don't think this is a no-go criteria. There were guys with asthma and other serious medical limitations going on 8000+ and Mark Inglis made it on the Everest with two artificial legs.

I don't know what you suppose of a mountaineering career though. Do you want to become a sponsored mountaineer? If so, it's up to you which risks you want to take and with higher risks the chances to get publicity (and sponsorship) increases.

Again, I think if you are going to be physically and mentally prepared, have a growing experience base in mountaineering and the background knowledge, you are going to have better chances to reach a high summit than some rich tourists which are just trying to brag with their achievement.

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