Conquering the majestic Himalayas can be a far-away dream of a lifetime to some while it could simply be an extreme sport, an exhilarating pursuit that offers the ultimate challenge of strength, endurance, and sacrifice for others. Only a handful of people are actually lucky enough to mark Himalayas off their travel bucket list. A truly rewarding experience, a Himalayan expedition comes with a price as it can be highly dangerous, even fatal where anything can go haywire. Especially when the climber is out of his or her depth, or simply gets overwhelmed by weather, terrain, ice, or other dangers of the mountain. Inexperience, poor planning, and inadequate equipment can all contribute to injury or death, so knowing what to do right matters.
Despite the risks, when done right, mountain climbing is an exciting, exhilarating, and gratifying experience. For those who harbor an interest in the Himalayan climb, following tips will surely guide beginners through their first ascent:
- Do your research: Before you even set out to climb mountains, do as much homework as you can about the skills needed and about other people’s experiences. It is imperative that you carry out thorough research and acquire necessary information pertaining to your climb from skills, gears, mountains to insurance, accommodation, packing list etc. Many bookstores now carry sections specifically devoted to the craft of mountain climbing, so it won’t be hard to find good books.
- Assess your mental strength: A lot of mountain climbing is about your mental attitude because you will need to make sound, fast judgments about conditions, directions, and safety. You need to be prepared mentally first if you are set on the climb. Sure conquering the mountains sounds seemingly exciting but there’s more to it.
- Get fit& trained: Mountain climbing requires good fitness and endurance skills because it is an intensely demanding physical activity. You can’t simply turn up for a big climb after a relatively sedentary office desk lifestyle. Train for fitness and strength in ways that benefit you best. If you intend on doing your first climb as a course for beginners, then the course will serve as your initial training. On the other hand, if you’re planning to climb with a companion, you may need to undertake some basic training before setting off unless you’re prepared to “learn as you go” with your guide. A mountain club can offer you specialized courses in such skills as (and you need to know them all)
- Find a good expedition operator: One of the best things you can do is find a trusted and reputable expedition operator whereby you can plan every details of your climb professionally. The great thing about such operators is that they will arrange group climbs, which are often targeted at beginner to intermediate climbers, so you can learn the skills while having fun meeting other like-minded climbers. They will also arrange for experienced and professional guides who will lead you throughout your climb which is a lot safe and highly advisable.
- Plan your first climb: Your first ascent should be one suited to a beginner and preferably with an experienced guide. The level of difficulty of a mountain is affected by both its altitude and its terrain. Mountains are graded from easy to extremely difficult, with many gradations in between. A beginner mountaineer should always ascend an “easy” mountain to begin with, while still taking all necessary precautions because a mountain is still a mountain, no matter how “easy” it is considered. Different countries assign different grade systems, so you’ll need to do a little research first. You’ll also need to understand rock pitches (from very difficult to hard, very severe) and ice pitches if rock and ice pitches (alpine and waterfall ice) are an issue on the mountain sought to be climbed.
- Acquire the gear: Mountain climbing gear is very specific and absolutely essential. You have two options – buying your own or hiring it. If you decide to purchase your own, this will be initially expensive but if done gradually, it’s a good option as you can be sure everything is fitted to you exactly, and if you plan on climbing more than one mountain, it’s a good investment. If you’re hiring gear, you won’t be guaranteed ideal fit and the items will obviously be used but if you use a reputable outfitter, they will be able to provide quality, tested items. Expedition operators will provide you with most of the gears except a few which you will have to purchase on your own.
- Prepare for the trip: If your mountain is close by, there will be less to arrange than if it requires travel to reach. If you don’t live near mountains, you’ll need to travel and book accommodation, and if this travel includes flying overseas, you’ll also need to take into account baggage allowances and visa requirements, etc. If you are arranging your climb with an operator, they are likely to take care of your travel, visas, ticket, accommodation, gears and guides.
- Travel and Medical Insurance: Make sure you have your travel and medical insurances in place prior to your departure in the Himalayas to make sure that you are covered in circumstances such as equipment loss, medical evacuation and injury
- Learn about mountaineering ethics: Knowing how to climb a mountain isn’t just about the physical and mental aspects. Many mountains are located in remote areas of the world and your climbing can have an impact on the local environment. It is a privilege to be able to climb pristine mountains and most mountaineers are very concerned to keep mountains in their original condition, as well as not abusing local amenities or running roughshod over local cultures.
If you are on the lookout for a mountain expedition as such, allow Himalayan Glacier to help you realize your dream in the pristine Himalayas come true.