Have you heard about the man who holds a record for climbing Mt. Everest in shorts and shoes only? He is probably not the best mountaineer in the world, but he has the most important paraphernalia for a mountaineer! This is the article that distinguishes the better mountaineers from the litter. Read through!
Starting out in mountaineering can be intimidating. There is a ton of information about the dangers in the mountains and even more information about how to overcome these dangers. The research often chokes dreams; leaves the aspirant drenched in doubt and incertitude. So let us clear up a few things. What does it take to start mountaineering, and to develop skills of renown?
The most important hardware for a mountaineer is a healthy body and a sharp mind! There is no gear that can substitute these two items. The best exercise to prepare the body and the mind for mountaineering is mountaineering. To build up for bigger mountains using smaller mountains. Or even hiking where there are no mountains! (Did you know not every part of the mountain is a steep climb?)
This is highly effective because you learn techniques for walking that can not be practiced in the city or at the gym (technical hiking). You familiarize yourself with the weather conditions of the mountains which can be dramatic to the point of chaos. You acclimatize to the high altitude with more exposure to the low atmospheric pressure. Your body adapts to efficient ways of consuming energy. Carrying your gear counts for strengthening. Learning to use your gear, best done on the trail, is more important than having the gear. Breathing the sprightly mountain air has advantages that can’t be overstated. And seeing new scenes on the mountain frequently prepares you for unfamiliar situations.
However, hiking is not enough exercise by itself. Only the same muscle groups are activated thus overworked. Furthermore, the inactive muscles grow weaker and your overall strength reduces. Lack of mobility increases chances of injury, the mountaineers worst nightmare.
You need to do other forms of exercise to stay mountain-fit. Expert mountaineers around the world always stretch before and after a tough session in their itinerary. Their workout routines are designed to optimize their performance on the mountain. Thanks to technology, the information, and apparatus to test your mountain performance at home, and to design and evaluate your training progress, is available on the internet. Check out these videos by Chase Tucker where he explains a procedure to test endurance and strength.
In addition to working out frequently, eat the right food, meditate, rest and sleep, avoid intoxicants, an apple a day, same old story every day. The key is consistency!
With good health, you can climb the highest mountain in no clothes and live through it. For instance, 57-year-old Wim ‘The Iceman’ Hof climbed Mt. Everest in shorts and shoes only! Unfortunately, most of us are not Icemen. This is where the next important thing comes in: Gear!
By Mwenda Kinoti, Lead Guide