Selecting an appropriate goal for your expedition isn’t easy. This step requires significant introspection to honestly evaluate your own abilities. Dream big, but temper the dream with reality.
For first expeditions, most climbers choose popular peaks and trade routes. These climbs provide learning opportunities that no book or weekend trip can replicate. Such excursions give you a chance to find out if you can handle high altitude and the pressures of climbing big mountains, while you’re still relatively close to civilization.
Once you’ve served an apprenticeship, working your way up a progression of adventures, it may be time to start thinking about more challenging goals.But skipping ahead too fast without guidance invites disaster; blind ambition can count on only so much luck.
Training for an expedition involves both technical, both physical and mental preparation. For your body, emphasize both cardiovascular and strength training. Cardiovascular conditioning is important for physical activity at high altitudes. Strong muscles are essential for carrying heavy loads up mountains, not to mention hoisting and climbing with a large expeditionary pack.
Climbing itself is the best training. Climb often and in all weather conditions, carrying a heavy pack. If climbers are able to go on a typical two- to three-day climb while carrying gear for camping and climbing, gaining 3,000 to 5,000 feet (900 to 1,500 meters) per day, and feel they still have plenty of physical reserves, they are probably sufficiently fit for an expedition. They need the endurance to carry 40 to 60 pounds (18 to 27 kilograms) every day, day after day.
Your mind and spirit also need to get in shape for the rigors of an expedition. Learn about the special challenges of expedition travel and prepare to accept them. Otherwise, the size and remoteness of the climbing area may be overwhelming, or a long storm or a bout with the flu may dispel your good spirits.
Expedition success often is earned by the climbers who have the desire or will to succeed, even though they may be physically weaker than other climbers. It takes more than physical strength to deal with extreme cold, sickness, cramped quarters, poor food, conflict with teammates, the stress of technical climbing, and the lethargy brought on by high altitude.
Work on both physical and mental conditioning by seeking out experiences that come as close as possible to what can be expected on the expedition. Prepare for the expedition by going on winter climbs and on longer.
For climbing in High altitude—nothing else is as demanding of technique, endurance, mental power, and physical strength—your body should be tuned to its highest potential.
The 5 fitness levels, 6 mountaineering technicals levels, 6 ski mountaineerinmg technicals levels and the 3 Trekking technicals levels we use are designed to give you an idea of how active you need to be during the 2-3 months prior to your trip in order to be well prepared. You don’t need to be an athlete, but you do need to be active and healthy (for our harder trips, so me regular training will be necessary).
It takes a demanding training program to prepare for a demanding sport. In the high mountain world, you need to be ready for anything and must perform at a high standard, sometimes for days on end.