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Mountain climbing is a challenging but hugely rewarding outdoor activity. It gives you an opportunity to enjoy beautiful views, as you test your physical and mental resolve. And once you reach the summit, it gives you a rewarding sense of accomplishment. However, those steep boulders and sharp inclines might seem intimidating at first – especially if you are new to mountain climbing. If mountain climbing seems like something that you would like to explore, here are some tips that will help you to scale those tricky mountains like a pro.
Prepare and Plan
Mountain climbing is a challenging undertaking. Therefore, you need to be adequately prepared, to ensure your trip is successful. First, you need to conduct a thorough research about the mountain you are preparing to climb. The background research will help you to determine the height of the mountain, trail difficulty, weather conditions, how long it will take to hit the summit, as well as potential challenges that you might encounter during your excursion. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary details about the mountain you are planning to climb, you need to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and determine whether it’s manageable.
If you feel that the climb is too technical and you don’t have the skills to climb that particular mountain, then you can opt for an easier one. If you feel that you have the skills to tackle that particular mountain, then you should go ahead and enroll for an orientation program. Attending an orientation prior to your climb is vital. During those orientations, you will learn everything that you need to know about the mountain that you want to climb, safety tips, as well as the gear that you should bring. You should also take that chance to ask any question that you might have about the upcoming trip, especially if you’ve never tackled that mountain before.
Ensure You are Physically Fit
As much as you might be a seasoned hiker, it doesn’t mean that you are automatically fit and ready to tackle a mountain climbing trip. Therefore, you need to train adequately before the day of the climb, to ensure your body is physically fit. As noted earlier, mountain climbing is a physically demanding task. If you are not physically fit, then injuries and exhaustion might jeopardize your trip and make it unsuccessful. Your mountain climbing physical training routine should involve building strength, increasing stamina and attitude training.
- Building Strength: During your mountain climbing trip, you will be hauling your body up the mountains, as well as a heavy backpack. Therefore, you need adequate strength to haul all that weight up a vertical climb. And this is where bodyweight training comes in. Exercises such as dips, pull-ups, pushups, lunges, and squats will help to strengthen your body and add some lean muscle. Add some weights on your back when doing push-ups and pull-ups, to ensure your body has the strength it needs to ascend and descend the mountain. Front squats, deadlifts and military presses will also help you to acquire the much-needed strength for your mountain climbing expedition. It’s also advisable to train with your mountain climbing gear, including the boots, clothing layers as well as a loaded backpack, to ensure your body is adequately preparing for the grueling climb.
- Increasing Stamina: If you want to scale mountains like a pro, then you need to enhance your stamina. Being able to climb mile after mile requires stamina. Therefore, your mountain climbing physical training program should include some aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, and distance cycling. For anaerobic endurance, your training program should include regular sessions of interval training.
- Altitude Training: Mountain climbing is not like other outdoor activities like hiking or trekking. As much as their fitness requirements are almost similar, mountain climbing tends to place a higher demand on your body’s resources. As you gain more elevation, breathing becomes difficult, due to thin air. Fortunately, altitude training before the climb will help your body to acclimatize. Whenever you get an opportunity, get out and tackle as many hills as possible. You can also join a simulated altitude training program if you have the resources.
Mental strength is equally vital when it comes to mountain climbing. Without the right attitude, you might end up giving up once you encounter the first challenge. So, how do you overcome mental roadblocks whenever you are scaling mountains? First, you should focus on small achievements. Don’t view mountain climbing as one, large challenge. Instead, you should break it down into achievable milestones. For instance, you can focus on reaching a point ahead such as a rock or tree. Once you accomplish that milestone, you can then set a new target. By focusing on smaller but achievable milestones, you will soon find yourself at the summit. Also, taking in the scenery will shift your mind elsewhere and stop you from thinking too much about the challenge that lies ahead.
Get Your Nutrition Right
Whether you are a sport climber or an alpine climber, proper nutrition is essential. Your climbing diet should be divided into 3 – pre-climb, mid-climb, and post-climb. Your pre-climb diet will depend on the duration and intensity of your climbing session. If it’s a high-intensity, shorter climb such as bouldering, then you should consume easy-to-digest carbs such as bananas, dried fruits, rice milk, quick oats, or sweet potatoes. On the other hand, if it’s a low intensity, longer climb such as alpine climbing, then you should go for slower digesting carbs like quinoa, brown rice, and beans. The timing of the meal is equally vital. You need to get at least 30 grams of carbs into your body, 30 minutes before you start the climb. You also need to consume approximately 20 grams of protein, 30 minutes before the climb to ensure your blood has enough supply of amino acids. Make sure you avoid fats as much as possible, before your climb. Apart from being slower to digest, fats can lead to various stomach issues, especially during strenuous activities.
During the climb, you need to replenish your body’s energy stores, since they might have already been depleted. You should refuel every 60 minutes of climbing, to prevent fatigue and muscle breakdown. Your mid-climb diet should include high-quality carbs like sweet potatoes, quinoa, yams, leafy greens, wild rice, and berries. All these foods are packed with fiber, antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins. They will promote recovery, reduce inflammation, and support enhanced energy production. Make sure you drink water every 30 minutes to keep your body well hydrated throughout the climb.
Once you’ve finished your climb, your body will enter into recovery mode right away. During the recovery phase, your body will rebuild and repair muscles and replenish glycogen stores. Therefore, you need to eat foods that will supply the right nutrients for the recovery phase. Within 30 minutes after finishing a climbing session, make sure you refuel with a protein and carbohydrate snack. You also need to remain adequately hydrated during the recovery phase. Reduce fat intake during the recovery phase as much as possible, since it can slow down digestion and interfere with protein intake.
Wear Appropriate Climbing Shoes
It’s essential to wear appropriate shoes during your mountain climbing excursion. A rugged pair of mountain climbing boots will protect your feet against sharp rocks and thorns. They will also provide cushioning, thus ensuring that your feet don’t hurt during when you are scaling the mountains. During your mountain-climbing excursion, it’s highly likely that you will come across slippery surfaces or loose terrain. The good news is that mountain climbing shoes are equipped with lugged, and grippy rubber outsoles, which protect you against slipping and sliding hazards. Mountain climbing shoes will also protect your feet against insect bites, among other elements. As you can see, a solid pair of mountain climbing shoes will help you to scale faster while protecting your feet against the elements. When buying mountain climbing shoes, make sure they fit well, they are durable and most importantly, they are comfortable.
Carry the Right Gear
Whether you are planning to climb a mountain near you or overseas, you need to bring the right gear. You need to wear clothing that will allow you to maneuver, move and climb comfortably. Also, make sure you carry gear for all types of weather. As you move to higher altitudes, it’s going to get colder, which means you need clothes that will keep you warm. You also need to carry sunscreen lotion and an insect repellent. A climbing rope will also come in handy, especially during technical climbs. Climbing harnesses, ice axes, and crampons are among the other pieces of equipment that you might need during your mountain climbing excursion.
With the right gear, proper planning, and adequate preparation, you have everything that you need to become a professional mountain climber. During your mountain climbing career, you will come across various challenges along the way – to a point of feeling like giving up. But as long as you keep enhancing your climbing skills, then the rewards will be worth your time and effort.