Mountain climbing is exhilarating, healthy, and once at the top, incredibly rewarding. But, before you reap the benefits of the climb and set foot atop the summit, pay attention to approach, equipment, and climbing insights to keep warm, healthy, and free of hazards and disaster.
Any workout gets people breathing heavy, but understand the higher you climb the more difficult it becomes to breathe. Actually, at such great heights, as the peak of Everest, human beings can hardly survive. Above 5400m, human habitation is not possible for long.
No ‘I’ In Team
Arduous expeditions warrant the help of a team, and each member most balance personal needs with necessities of the team. Stop for food, water, and rest, and be communicative about feelings of illness, fatigue, and expected limitations. Some train for weeks or months to ensure they’re not the ‘weak link’ of the team. When it comes to high altitudes and dangerous conditions, there’s zero room for a ‘weak’ teammate.
‘Climb high and sleep low’ is a climber’s mantra. Human bodies recuperate better at lower altitudes. Climbing for long periods at high altitudes takes toll on the strongest and most experienced climbers. It has nothing to do with acclimation and everything to do with science; when deprived of oxygen, lactic acids and body wastes settle in the muscles, making climbers feel fatigued and weary. Sleeping at lower altitudes helps climbers reenergise.
Falling fast asleep indicates the body’s acclimation to altitudes. Perhaps counter to intuition, a fatigued and maladjusted body will have trouble falling asleep, an indication to pay greater attention to proper rest and sustenance.
As with sleeping, it’s better to eat at lower altitudes, facilitating digestion and elimination. Eating at higher altitudes taxes the body and requires more energy for proper digestion.
Food is the body’s supply of energy and must be a major focal point of each individual and the team regardless of the distance of the climb. Overestimating your body’s ability is one of the worst mistakes a climber can make.
Fatigue is expected and a special level of determination is needed to address longer climbs, yet each climber must be attuned with their body. Climbers, experienced and in good shape, are especially prone to fatigue, so using past success to gauge future goals can promotes a dangerous sense of security.
A number of factors influence levels of fatigue – one’s role in the group, the body’s digestive system, and distributed strain on muscles throughout the climb.
To ensure comfort and good range of motion, select the proper clothing for the sport. A windproof jacket, heavy shell (preferably down or synthetic fill), fleece shirt, breathable (non cotton) trousers, and more are common purchases.
Aside from your frame, attend to extremities, buying waterproof (not water-resistant) mitts with fleece inner lining. A heavy hat and face mask keeps the head and face covered from wind, snow, and cold. Lastly, buy heavy socks and hiking boots (that can endure heavy terrain). Gain a better understanding of needs, and find an array of climbing clothing, at engelbert-strauss.co.uk.
Falling ill above sea level is more intense due to low resilience levels. Sore throats and persistent coughing is normal, yet climbers get blood clots, heavy chest pains, or worse due to extreme altitudes taking toll on already weary immune systems.
Beginners should climb with those with a few years experience under their belt, especially regarding intense climbs. Use good judgment, balancing determination with a level head. The mountains will be there tomorrow, but if you’re negligent in keeping healthy, you may not.
Mental tenacity is as important as skill and strength. Simple mindsets, like breaking a climb into segments rather than consider it as ‘one’ climb, as well as remembering to have fun and know your boundaries, make a huge difference in happiness and experience.
Go out with a positive mindset, and be humble rather than worried about looking like an expert. Experience takes time regardless of how much patience is employed.
Forgetting your wallet at home after driving to the corner store is not a big deal, yet forgetting your extra pair of gloves amid near-freezing conditions is a problem. Check your equipment before you begin climbing. And, then check your equipment again, using a sheet of paper, checking off each need as you see it with your own eyes.
Don’t assume or take one person’s word for fact. Accidents happen but many climbing issues can be avoided through preparation.
Evie Field loves the outdoors and being active. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, she likes to write about her experiences and adventures.