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Fitness & Grades

More Information: Fitness and Expedition Grades

You don’t need to be an athlete to join our expeditions, but that doesn’t mean that trekking at high altitude is easy. It isn’t!.

That said, there’s no need to panic. Many of the climbs and treks detailed in this website designed to offer attainable goals to people of ‘reasonable’ fitness, regardless of age.

The grading system should help you decide which trip suits you best.

It goes without saying that improving your fitness before you set off on your trip will increase your chances of success and enjoyment. If you are going to spend time, effort and money attempting a trek or climb you might as well prepare yourself during the months and weeks leading up to the trip. Here are some pointers:

  • The best way to get hill-fit is to get your boots dirty, so get out in the hills! Long, steep walks with a moderately sized pack are the key to improving your mountain fitness. It's well worth having a look at the Ordnance Survey Trekking Britain website www.trekkingbritain.com. Try and stick to the suggested guide book times for the walks listed on this site.
  • If you can’t find the time to go hill walking, there’s still plenty that you can do in the gym. I suggest 2 – 3 cardio sessions per week and lower body strength training. This will improve your ‘heart and lungs’ and strengthen the muscles that will actually propel you up the mountain.
  • Try and start your fitness preparation several months before the climb and build up gradually. This helps you focus on the task in hand and assists with your mental preparation. Be warned, a twenty minutes plod on the running machine and half an hour spent aimlessly throwing iron around the gym (followed by a three hour jacuzzi) WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS!

Suggested gym circuit.

Cardio (2 or 3 sessions each week)

20 min treadmill interval-run on a moderate incline (you’ll have to experiment with speed/ incline to you work out what’s manageable for you).

Interval training mixes periods of higher intensity running with slower rest periods. So, start with a 5 deg incline and a speed of, say, 8.5 kmph. After 60 seconds, increase the speed of the treadmill to 10.5 kmph for 60 seconds, then down to 8.5 kmph for 60 seconds, then back up to 10.5 for 60 seconds...continue for 20 minutes.

This will be tough at first, but you will improve your fitness quickly.

OR

Cardio circuit (again, you’ll have to work out what speed/ incline/ resistance works for you). 10 minutes on an incline treadmill, 10 minutes on a cross-trainer, 10 minutes on a bike.

Don't 'coast' - push hard and make a note of your times/ distances. This will give you a target to aim for and improve.

Lower Body Strengthening (2 or 3 times a week)

Take a 1 minute break between each set and a 2 minute break between exercises.

Squats. 4 x 10 reps, moderate-to-heavy weight.

Barbell Lunges. 4 x 12 reps. Use a light weight, 10kgs should be enough.

Leg extension/ leg press superset. 8 reps on a high weight for leg extension followed immediately (no rest) by 12 reps on leg press with a slightly lower weight.
Repeat 3 times.

These are our toughest trips. They are exceptionally strenuous, lengthy, balls-out mountain climbing expeditions.

You will need previous high mountain experience, a very high level of cardio-vascular fitness and physical and mental toughness in order to succeed. This will usually involve a programme of hard training prior to departure; running/ cycling, hill walking and gym work.

What to expect:

Long and demanding climbs to the summit, often involving 1000 meters or more of ascent followed by long descents back down the mountain. It is not unusual for the summit day to last 15 hrs or more. The terrain is often difficult, steep and icy.

Typically, you will be aiming for a summit at about 6000 meters in height. Expect to experience some of the symptoms of high altitude; headaches, disturbed sleep and loss of appetite.

With high altitude comes extreme weather and conditions. Specialist clothing will be required to deal with temperatures of minus 20c (and below).

Porters and pack animals will carry equipment and provisions most of the time, you will usually carry a rucksack which is no more than 8KGs in weight, but it may be necessary to load-carry from time-to-time in order to establish camps high on the mountain.

Whilst the ascents are usually considered to be technically easy 'trekking peaks', you will usually need to be familiar with the use of crampons and ice axes. Ropes may be required for safe passage over glaciers.

These expeditions are achievable for most people, but they are demanding. You’ll need a good level of cardio-vascular fitness coupled with physical and mental toughness. Previous experience of mountain travel at high altitude is not always necessary to complete one of these expeditions...it more about attitude!

What to expect:

The climb to the summit will usually involve a long, tough slog, often involving 1000 meters of ascent followed by long descent back down the mountain. It is not unusual for the summit day to last 10 hrs or more, usually over easy angled 'walking terrain', with the occasional steep or icy section.

Typically, you will be aiming for a summit well above 5000 meters in altitude. Expect to experience some of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness such as headaches and disturbed sleep.

With high altitude comes extreme weather and conditions. Specialist equipment will be required to deal with temperatures of minus 20c (and below).

Porters and pack animals will carry equipment and provisions most of the time, and you will usually carry a rucksack which is no more than 5KGs in weight.

These expeditions do not usually involve crossing technical terrain, but the use of crampons and ice axes may sometimes be required. Tuition will be given in-country.

You will experience similar terrain to our 'easy' treks, but these expeditions spend longer in the wilderness and often scale higher objectives. You will need to be reasonably fit to tackle challenging mountain weather conditions and the odd high-pass.

Previous experience is not necessary, these are also be considered to be 'entry level' expeditions.

What to expect:

Trekking days can be 7 - 8 hrs long, with the occasional high pass. The route will usually follow easy angled terrain.

You are likely to spend time well above 4000m mark, and trekking at this altitude can be hard work. Expect to experience some of the symptoms caused by travel at altitude; such as breathlessness and the occasional headache.

Plan for variable weather conditions and temperatures as low as minus 10c.

Wilderness campsites, far from civilisation.

Porters and pack animals will carry equipment and provisions most of the time, you will be required to carry a rucksack which is no more than 5KGs in weight.

These are short, introductory trekking expeditions. Although not particularly strenuous, these trips involve travel in remote mountainous areas so a reasonable level of fitness and physical toughness is required.

What to expect:

Trekking days are usually 5 - 6 hrs long, with the occasional high pass. The route will usually follow easy angled terrain.

You are likely to spend some time at the 4000m mark. Expect to experience some of the symptoms caused by travel at high altitude, such as breathlessness and the occasional headache.

Plan for variable weather conditionsb and temperatures low as minus 10c

Porters and pack animals will carry equipment and provisions most of the time, you will be required to carry a rucksack which is no more than 5KGs in weight.