Preparation for Trekking

Preparing for Himalayan trekking / climbing is utmost necessary and vital. Many people suffer health problems when they land in Himalayas due to ignorance or over confidence. If you are new to high altitude activities like trekking, climbing and high altitude camping then do tell us while corresponding with us and follow the instructions carefully. All you are expected to do is- not to have a show off attitude & understand nature and high altitude. Do read articles provided in Vital Resources section.

The first step in preparing for a trek is deciding which trek you are going to do. This decision should be based on a number of considerations including; your current level of experience and fitness, whether you will be trekking alone or with a group, time of year, recent weather patterns, distance, difficulty of terrain, how interesting it is and so on.

Before deciding on a particular trek you should aim to find out as much as possible about your intended adventure.

Analysing expected terrain

In addition to your guide book's description, your topographical map will give you an accurate indication of the lie of the land by observing the contour lines. As map reading is an acquired skill that you will need to depend on we recommend that visitors consult specialised publications or professionals in this field for detailed information and tutoring.

Digital technology can be of assistance. More and more trekkers are uploading digital photos to the Internet. While these photos can give you a first hand look at some of the terrain you will be trekking through, they can also be deceiving. Photos, even professionally taken ones rarely show it as it is in real life. Himalayan climbers and cinematographers are constantly frustrated at having to say to their audiences "It looks a lot more frightening when you're actually there".

Weather conditions

Never take the weather for granted. It is easy to be lulled into thinking that bright sunny conditions will last the whole trek. Positive thinking is a good thing but where weather is concerned you must also be realistic. Conditions may change and you must be prepared to deal with them.

Always check weather forecasts before setting out. This is particularly important in mountainous regions where severe changes in temperatures, visibility and weather extremes, occur with monotonous regularity. Generally speaking, temperatures drop by approximately 5-6 degrees Celsius for every 1000 metres of altitude. This is a rough guide only and should not be relied upon.

Check with local authorities in the area that you will be trekking for current weather conditions. Also ask for a forecast for the duration that you will be in the area.

Not only is bad weather likely to turn your trek into a miserable experience it can also create dangerous conditions that can turn your adventure into a survival mission. Rivers that are normally crossible can be transformed into raging torrents. Descents can become slippery and dangerous and also the risk of rockfall can increase. The time it takes to trek from point A to point B can be doubled or even tripled in severe weather.

When considering weather forecasts take into account such things as storm warnings, lightning predictions and changes in temperature. Be prepared to postpone your trip if the weather looks too risky.

Keep an eye open for signs of changing weather. For example:

  • Fast moving clouds indicate high wind speed and this could indicate a possible weather change ahead.
  • Changes in the colour of the sky along with a heavy accumulation of cloud will usually indicate that rain is on the way.
  • Snow covered peaks will demonstrate high wind activity by displaying a plume of snow  flowing from the summit.

Minimising your pack weight

Minimising your pack weight starts at the gear shop and the choices that are made there. Serious trekkers take the weight of their equipment very seriously and for good reason - It can add up quickly. How much you are prepared to carry and for how long is a personal choice, but in the end we are all striving for the same goal, and that is to take all the necessary gear with the least amount of weight.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Take only what is necessary to do the job.
  • When buying gear consider items that are multi-functional.
  • Avoid food with heavy or excessive packaging.
  • Consider the weight verses nutrition value of the food you are carrying. If you have to   carry some food that is heavy try consuming this in the earlier part of the trek.
  • Consider the weight of every item that you are purchasing. For example, Do you need a 4 seasons sleeping bag, or would a lighter 3 or even 2 seasons bag be adequate for the type of trekking that you intend to do?
  • Consider your choice and combinations of clothing. Aim for clothing that is lightweight but with good insulating power.
  • How fuel efficient is your stove? Will it accommodate a smaller fuel bottle for shorter treks?
  • Do you need to carry a lot of water or is there going to be a regular supply along the way. Recent weather patterns for the area will give an indication of this.
  • Ultra-light equipment often comes at the expense of performance however, with modern equipment the gap is narrowing. Weigh up performance against weight to see if these products will fit your needs.
  • Avoid fancy mod-cons and gadgets. In most cases these will do little more than weigh you down and take up space that could be used for carrying things like food and clothing.
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