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Fit enough to climb a mountain?

Yana Bey answers queries about mountain climbing and talks about the requirments that go into preparing for mountain climbing.

other Updated: Dec 12, 2009 23:43 IST

It is my dream to trek Mt Everest. What are the basic physical requirements for mountaineering?

Arun

Don’t get confused between mountaineering and trekking. Mountaineering involves climbing a mountain; trekking is done around the bases of peaks and in the valleys between them. Mountaineering takes you to high altitudes while trekking is generally done at much lower heights, though some routes require you to cross passes as high as 17,000-18,000 ft. For mountaineering, average physical fitness is sufficient to start with. You should not have heart, respiratory or back problems. You learn climbing techniques to scale rock, snow and ice features on peaks. Even if you have a slight handicap, it can be overcome. I have seen polio victims doing mountaineering.

I am 51 years old and I’ve never been on a trek in the mountains. I’m keen on going to Kailash-Mansarovar next year. I don’t have any medical issues. What should I do to prepare for the trek? Will I be able to do it?

Mrinalini Singh

The Kailash-Mansarovar yatra is not difficult. You’ll have to withstand a little cold and altitude. Most people acclimatise easily on the drive to Mansarovar. Eat well and drink plenty of fluids. Also, keep yourself warm and ensure that you get proper sleep each night.

When you begin the parikrama of Mt Kailash, you will already be accustomed to the cold, dry climate and the altitude. On the trek, walk at your own pace, rest when you need to, and snack occasionally. Carry a flask of warm water and sip on it from time to time. If you sweat, cover yourself when you stop for a rest to avert catching a chill. At the end of each day’s walking, change into fresh socks.

Unless you lead a completely sedentary life, you will not have any problems. Start going for long walks and go up and down the stairs slowly. You should be able to climb without panting and feeling a strain in the knees and calves. If you are prone to colds, eat a half teaspoonful of chopped garlic with a drop of mustard oil and salt with a meal once a day. It will prevent you from catching a cold. Start this a month before leaving for the yatra.

Yana Bey is a mountaineer and an adventure expert

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