Hello Zooro and welcome to the forum,
This verb stems from the analogy of a bowling ball. It arrives (at the end of the alley) with a certain force. One might speak of someone "bowling into the office" if he arrives on the run, slams to door wide open and generally attracts the attention of everyone present.
Just why the analogy fits to an arrival at the foot of a mountain is not clear. Perhaps the idea is that one arrives, fully loaded with climbing gear, full of enthusiasm. Then to find that you've left your tool behind might be an embarrassment.
No, it certainly doesn't mean literally "up." One can bowl into an office. One can bowl out the door. One can bowl down a hill. One can bowl across the field. And one can bowl up to a mountain (or anything else) when one arrives there and stops.
Bibliolept, as a non-native English speaker that was my first thought, because the article was about the need of sharpening your ice axe and your crampons to avoid accidents in winter conditions.
Reading the sentence I translated it as "you should take care of your equipment before falling down". But somebody told me that maybe it meant "you should check your equipment before climbing up or something similar".
Now, I understand perfectly the meaning of the verb "bowl" with the explanation of Lexiphile, but I have a doubt about the role of "up".
Thank you very much, GreenWhiteBlue and Emma, for all your examples of "UP" meaning a movement which comes to an end. All of them are followed by TO. Can we find "UP" (meaning exactly that), without any or a different preposition?
Bibliolept, if the original sentence had been "before ending up at the bottom of the mountain", the meaning would have been straightforward. But with "bowl" I'm not sure if the mountaineers are arriving to the bottom of the mountain from the valley or from the top (after falling).
If you mean can we find a phrasal verb using "up", yes, we can.
He pulled up at the traffic light. I wish you wouldn't rush up like that all the time. It is not as if you can just walk up and ask the boss for a raise; you need to make sure he is in a good mood first.
Well, the Collins Cobuild Phrasal Verbs Dictionary suggests that "up" is used in phrasal verbs in the following ways:
(1) literal sense: movement from a lower position to a higher one
(2) to indicate an increase in quantity or intensity eg "speed up"
(3) with some verbs, to indicate that something is starting or beginning eg "open up"
(4) to indicate restriction eg "belt up" "button up"
(5) to indicate that people are moving closer together eg "creep up on"
(6) to indicate that something has been spoilit or damaged in some way eg "mess up"
(7) to indicate that something has been completed or finished eg "drink up".
I suspect that the 'up' in "bowl up" is closest to meaning (5).
In any event, "bowl up" = "casually turn up" = "casually arrive".
I looked up the phrasal verb in some general dictionaries and I couldn't find it. Maybe I should consider to buy a phrasal verbs dictionary. With that meaning of "casually turn up or arrive" the original sentence makes sense.