Training And Physical Preparation For Climbing Mount Everest

Training And Physical Preparation For Climbing Mount Everest


Unsurprisingly, there are many areas of physical preparation that you will need to work on when preparing to climb Mount Everest. In this article we will consider each of them in turn.

Climbing experience

If you’ve never done any mountain climbing before it would be wise to allow at least 18 months (and preferably longer) to build up sufficient climbing experience before you tackle this huge peak. Gaining the skills, strength and confidence to climb Mount Everest doesn’t happen overnight. Attempting the climb before you have sufficient experience can lead you to make poor decisions which, in the worst-case scenario, may ultimately be deadly.

Rock climbing

Begin by taking a rock climbing course with an accredited professional climbing company. The instructors will be able to introduce you to the equipment, terminology and techniques that you will need to begin climbing. They will show you the best ways to climb various rock formations and surfaces, how to find the best route and how to use your body in the most efficient and effective way when climbing. Be warned, that this is an extremely physically demanding endeavour and until you build up your strength you can expect to be very sore after climbing.

Once you are familiar with the climbing gear and have the basic skills mastered under professional supervision, the next step is to practice as much as you can. Buy a guidebook of your local area and put everything you’ve learnt into practice. It is a good idea to practice under varying conditions to really refine your skills and development as a climber. The rock faces can present different challenges to climbers at different times of the day or in varied weather conditions. Learning to cope with a range of situations is great experience for tackling Everest.

Vitally important climbing skills for Everest are rappelling and ascending using a jumar on a fixed rope. You should have mastered these mountain climbing tools while wearing a heavy pack before you set out to begin your Everest climb.

Ice climbing

Once you are feeling confident with rock climbing, you should then take another course in ice climbing. Depending on where you live this may be a more time consuming and expensive endeavour (not everyone lives conveniently close to vertical ice), however it is essential, as much of the climbing you do on Everest will be on snow and ice. While rock climbing can build your strength and confidence, climbing over ice is a completely different experience that requires extensive training.

Crampon skills

It sounds basic, but you need to be comfortable walking with crampons. Note that the crampons will be fixed to rigid boots, that you will be walking on rock, snow and ice surfaces, and that you will be doing it with a pack on your back and an ice axe in your hand. Doing all of this without tiring yourself out is surprisingly difficult, and requires muscles that need to be built up and new coordination skills that need to be learned.

Cardiovascular fitness

Being in good shape with a high level of cardiovascular fitness will increase your chances of succeeding at climbing Mount Everest. It is not hyperbole to say that for most people, you will need to be in the best shape of your life. Although climbing is the most effective way to prepare for climbing Mount Everest you can also start improving your fitness levels by carrying out physical improvement exercises such as the bleep test.

Being fit will assist in enabling your group to maintain a good pace and stick to the planned climbing schedule without any unforeseen delays. People often underestimate the level of cardiovascular fitness required, and this can result in the embarrassment and inconvenience of letting their climbing group down as they struggle to keep up. You will also enjoy the daily hiking much more if you are feeling fit and not worn out.

The good thing is that improving and maintaining your cardiovascular fitness can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any specialist equipment. You can choose the activity or combination of activities that you prefer when working on your cardiovascular fitness. Some possible options are running, swimming, cycling, step training, gym workouts or aerobics. Another good suggestion that is more accessible to those people living in a city is walking up stairs or using an inclined treadmill to simulate the climbing experience. Dragging tires uphill (with a rope connecting the tire to a weight belt around your waist) is still one of the very best training regimes for mountain climbing.

What activity you do, it should be interval training—that is, bursts of intense activity alternated with less-intense recovery activity. Try to sustain this exercise activity for at least an hour, five times per week. Also, make sure that you stretch, warm up and cool down so as to prevent any muscle injury.

Strength and conditioning

Doing some strength training is also essential. Climbing the Lhotse Face with an ascender requires considerable upper body strength, but even more important is building the core strength (abdominals and lower back) that will allow you to climb while wearing a pack without becoming too exhausted to continue.