Mastering the Mountain: Training and Planning for Your First High Altitude Climb

Mountain climbing is one of the most rewarding adventures you will ever embark on. The combination of physical endurance and mental stamina that it takes to summit a mountain are what makes this particular activity both so attractive and so difficult. Mountain climbing, however, is not something to be taken lightly. It takes months of preparation and, even for the most well-trained professionals, it can easily turn dangerous. While the rewards are great, it is important that you prepare well in advance for what lies ahead.

Physical Conditioning

No matter how eager you are to get up that mountain, you will need to be in excellent physical shape before you set out on your adventure. Mountain climbing, after all, is about more than just walking up a steep slope. You will be carrying about 20 lbs of gear with you all while going uphill. Your physical preparation, therefore, needs to include both weight training and cardiovascular activities. Don’t limit yourself to the gym as you prepare.

Get inside a Dodge Durango, for example, and head outdoors so that you can experience firsthand the cold temperatures, fierce winds, and high altitudes that are going to be taking their toll on your body. Remember, also, that no matter how well you prepare physically, mountain climbing is exhausting and likely to take a physical toll on you, especially if you’re new to the experience.

Mental Work

Because the physical demands are so great, you will need to be mentally prepared for what is ahead. At some point during your adventure you will likely want to turn around and head back to the bottom of the mountain. While it’s impossible to ever fully prepare for the mental challenges a mountain places in your path, always try to keep the goal of actually reaching the summit in mind.

That said, not all mountain climbing adventures end with a successful summit and you will quickly learn that enjoying the adventure itself is sometimes just as important as finishing whatever your main objective may have been.

Know What You’re Doing

Physical and mental preparation are keys, but mountain climbing is also a technical sport that requires plenty of knowledge and practical preparation. Make sure you have the right gear before you go. You can find an extensive catalog of climbing gear at SummitPost.org, along with reviews and product info. Last but not least, learn about the dangers and what you can do to stay safe.

From unpredictable weather to avalanches to falls, mountain climbing can and does lead to injuries and death. The Alpine Club of Canada has a number of articles available here about safe climbing, including essential information about recognizing avalanche risks and rappelling safely. Remember, no mountain is worth your life.

There are few activities that are as challenging and therefore as rewarding as mountain climbing is. To succeed at this sport, however, you will need to be realistic about your physical and mental strengths. By preparing well in advance of the actual climb, you will be taking the most important step towards actually reaching the mountain summit.

Patricia Anthony was an outdoor adventurer in her younger days having climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at aged 21. Now working as a fitness trainer she shares her insights via blogging in her spare time. Her articles appear on travel, fitness and adventure blogs.

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