If casual touring is not enough for you, and you want some adrenaline-pumping action for your next overseas trip, mountaineering could be your cup of tea. Mountaineering is quite popular amongst thrill-seeking travellers, and for good reason. There is much to enjoy on a mountaineering expedition, like the exhilaration of reaching the highest peak, and the serene scenic views.
That being said, mountaineering is not just a trip activity; it is a sport. And as with any sport, you need to train to be able to perform. An expedition can prove physically and mentally challenging, especially if it is your first one. To properly prepare for your journey, you need to engage in regular training. Here are some tips on how to plan your training regimen.
Consider the conditions of the climb
Mountain ranges may look similar at first glance, but each has a unique set of conditions you need to prepare for. By extension, you will have to adapt your training regimen to accommodate these conditions.
For example, the duration of the climb would determine how much stamina you will need to build up. It would also help you estimate the amount of supplies you need to carry, and thus how heavy your backpack would be. Other conditions include altitude, terrain, and climate.
Mountaineering training is not like training for general fitness. The type of training that you engage in needs to be catered to the specific requirements of climbing. At the same time, it has to be progressive, such that you do not injure yourself in the process. Generally, mountaineering training is split into 3 phases.
Phase 1 is dedicated to building your base fitness. During this phase, your goal is to simply get the stamina and strength needed to handle the more specific training in the future phases. Here, you can start with aerobic and motor fitness training, slowly upping the intensity at your own pace.
Aerobic exercises are meant to improve your body’s oxygen efficiency, increasing your stamina. Motor fitness training primarily works on your strength, balance, and flexibility, which will help you keep steady on your climb. Starting your regimen early will benefit you here since you can have a gentler progression.
Phase 2 is when you start to introduce more mountaineering-specific training. Hiking and climbing are the exercises of choice here, because they acclimatise your body to dealing with inclines and changes in altitude, both in terms of endurance and balance. You can also intersperse these sessions with interval training. This involves bursts of activity (e.g. 5-minute runs) with short rests in between to maintain an elevated heart rate.
Phase 3 involves training that is specifically tailored to your climb. You should attempt to train in areas with a similar terrain as the mountain you plan on conquering. Throughout the training, you should also carry a backpack with similar weight distribution as the one you will carry during the real expedition.
At this point, you should be able to conduct interval and strength training every 3 days, and aerobic, balance, and stretching exercises every day. You can take one day in the week, like Sunday, as a rest day. But feel free to take additional rest days if you need it. The last thing you want is to overexert and injure yourself.
Training for a mountaineering expedition can be just as much of a journey as the climb itself. With progressive physical conditioning, you give yourself the best chance of having a safe and fulfilling expedition.
Aside from training, there are several other safety considerations you should prepare for. For instance, in the case of medical emergencies, you may need to plan for a medical evacuation. With medical professionals and ICU equipment, one type of service that they can consider is an air ambulance; they can bring you home safely while providing critical medical care.