As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fall.”
Similarly, your trip may turn into a bad experience without proper preparation, especially for high-altitude Trekking. It is why it is essential to be physically and mentally fit for your Trekking.
You don’t need to be an ironman- or woman to go for a trekking trip, but you must follow some criteria and training before going on a trek.
A few years ago, I did an Everest Base Camp trek with an old couple; the man was 74 years old, and the woman was 71 years. They reached Everest Base Camp at 5350 meters without any headache. I was amazed and asked them the reason behind their fitness. They told me that all was because of good preparation. Hence, let’s dive into the preparation for your best trekking experience.
However, before we dive into the trekking preparation, let’s understand the meaning of Trekking. Trekking generally means days of walking in the countryside for pleasure or sports. It is also defined as a journey in the mountains on foot. Remember: the higher the elevation, the more difficult the hike.
As most Trekking trips in the Himalayas are multi-day trips, preparing ahead will help you avoid certain discomfort. If you have never done a long multi-day hike, you should start preparing at least three months before your departure. Though a regular physical activity all year round is an advantage.
First and foremost, you need to pick up the trekking trail you would like to do or a country where you want to go for a trek. By doing so, you are unconsciously commanding your brain to prepare for a trek, and you start to take fitness pressure. The advantage of selecting the trail will first help you prepare yourself according to the chosen trail destination. As such,
- you will get familiar with the distances, durations, geographical structure, and difficulties.
- Without rush, you can then arrange all your Trekking gears properly.
- It gives you also more time to consult about your logistics if any.
- Last but not least, you can plan and train with your partner if any.
I am not an expert on Trekking training. However, from my experiences in the Himalayas as a guide for almost 19 years, I saw that people doing regular exercise or yoga are much more confident during their Trekking. But I also discovered that fit people with a lack of knowledge of high altitude had sometimes jeopardized their Trekking experience. So everything should be put in balance.
As I mentioned earlier, you do not need to be an ironman or -woman to go for Trekking; you need to do regular basic exercise with some weekend hikes. The following are training recommendations according to my experience:
- Regular exercise includes running, swimming, or bicycling for at least 45 minutes, five times a week. Or as you prefer, but training should be based on cardio.
- Add 5 minutes of simple breathing exercise after your workout; you can find lots of videos on youtube.
- If possible, do some simple yoga twice a week to release muscle tension.
- Taking a staircase is an excellent way to gain extra leg muscles.
- But going for a hike with your backpack at least two times a week for not less than 3 hours is even better. The bag’s weight should be about 6 to 9 kg, or according to your trekking plan. And remember to use your trekking boots for a hike.
- Training to hike with the two poles is also essential. I have met many people who have issues with their knees because they didn’t use sticks in hiking.
Discussing the appropriate gears for Trekking is confusing because it all depends on the region, country, and terrain you want to trek. This is the reason why it is always good to target the place you want to go for Trekking and discuss with the logistic provider or get some advice from people who have had a similar experience before.
But here are some tips for a high altitude Trekking:
Hardshell Jacket (5 layers)
Down jacket or super-insulated jacket
Gloves, at least 2 to 3 pairs
Hardshell pants (5 layers)
Polar pant (stretchable)
Waterproof Gortex shoes
Waterproof trail shoes
Smart wool socks
Pole (Sticks) essential
Sleeping bag (comfort depends according to your trekking type)
Backpack (size depends on your trekking type)
Water bottle and Thermos
Dry nuts, bars, and other snacks
Personal First Aid Kit (with high altitude medicine and a Thermo accident blanket)
If you plan to Trek in Nepal, you can also hire materials in Kathmandu, such as a down jacket or sleeping bag.
SOME IMPORTANT POINTS TO CHECK IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO TREK IN OTHER COUNTRIES
- Covid entry formalities
- Cancellation and rescue insurances are essential
- If you are taking a Drone camera, check the local formalities for it. For example, in some countries like Nepal, you need special permits.
Remember, if you plan to trek at a higher altitude, it is vital to gather information regarding the trail and altitude terrain beforehand. Also, if you are taking services from a local logistic provider, make sure all security services are added to the price.
In the Himalayas, we sometimes hear cases of missing Trekkers in the mountain; in one case, a young couple got lost for 47 days.
The following link, “Trekking in Nepal,” is the best way to know about the different kinds of Trekking that you can do in Nepal. Each Trekking is explained, with a grading according to its difficulty.
CONCLUSION: THE EFFECTIVE WAY TO PREPARE FOR TREKKING
Even if you are not a hiker or don’t enjoy fitness exercises, you can make it to the mountain top with little but regular training each day. Start with 10 to 15 minutes of exercise or a 30-minute walk each day.
As I have mentioned, if the above 70 years old couple could make it to Everest Base Camp with good preparation, then, of course, you can also do it with appropriate training and preparation.
What else do you think would be the best way to prepare for Trekking? Did I miss any points? Do you have any tips and advice that I did not mention in this post?
By Norbu Sherpa, co-founder “Wild Yak Expeditions”