Before you start your climb up Mount Everest there are quite a lot things you need to know about, some are pretty obvious like making sure you and the rest of the team have suitable experience, but other things you might not think of that may make all the difference during your climb.
Let’s take a look at a few pointers which may help:
Training is one of the most important aspects, having the correct training could save your life or the lives of others should the need arise. There is no point of even attempting a climb up Mount Everest if all you do is half an hour on a treadmill each day. You will need to be able to carry a heavy backpack with all the essential climbing gear and work in completely different conditions to your everyday life. Do as much exercise as possible, hill walking, bike riding and swimming are a good start, but also try to carry a full backpack around with you as much as you can.
Make sure that your clothes and footwear fit properly months before you leave for the climb. It is very important to make sure that your boots fit properly and they don’t rub, also you need to know that they are going to keep your feet warm enough. You should give them a test run during the cold winter months on your local mountains. Also purposely wear you’re climbing clothes out during a storm, this will allow you to get an idea of how well protected from the elements you are. You might get a few weird looks from others but knowing the clothing and footwear is up to the job could save yourself a few fingers or toes.
Motivation can be difficult to find when you feel alone and vulnerable in freezing temperatures, try to visualize yourself taking that final step to the top, imagine the feeling you will get when you reach your goal. Bring along a couple of books or DVDs, being with the same few people for two or more months straight can be tough for anyone, watching a film will help with the bonding process and could help bring up morale. Most people will take a satellite phone to contact friends and family every now and again, just a five minute phone conversation with a loved one can make a real difference to your confidence and focus. You might even want to bring photos or recordings of loved ones.
Food and drink is a very important part of the expedition. You have to remember that you will burn off a lot more calories than normal when you are working in cold temperatures and using all your strength to climb. Try to keep your calorie intake high all the way through the expedition, the higher you go, the more calories you will need. Protein shakes and pre cooked meat products are a good source of food and purified water to stop dehydration.
Good communication skills and the ability to have compassion for others as well as yourself is a must. Even the largest, well planned out expeditions will fail if there is no communication between all party members, try to be open and honest about how you are feeling and why you might be feeling that way. It’s quite easy to say to someone else ‘don’t worry about it’ or ‘you’re doing well’ but will need to be able to be compassionate with yourself too.
Be aware of everything happening around you, notice every change or difference with yourself and your equipment. Sort out any sores on your feet before they turn into large blisters and keep an eye on the sharpness of your crampons. Always try to avoid any problems long before they arise.
Cutting corners is a big mistake, especially for something which could be potentially life threatening and important as a climbing expedition. Most people planning a climbing trip up Mount Everest will stick to the well known shops and brands for all their equipment supplies, companies with a proven record for quality and durability are normally the best choice. Remember that these people may have the knowledge to aid you in your choices, so take any advice you can get. Anything from cooking equipment and tents to clothing and Sherpa support must be thought out properly and if you think you might need it, get it!
Pace yourself properly and don’t rush, just because you have energy at a particular point in time doesn’t necessarily mean you should push a bit harder, try to conserve your energy so it will last. If you’re tired more than you anticipated then rest for longer periods, even if it means the trip will take a bit longer. Try to take in the view and enjoy the trip not just rush to the end and get it over with, after all this is what you have been training and the reason you come in the first place. If the expedition is looking to last for an extra week or two don’t get disheartened, see it as an extension of your holidays.
All this being said it is vitally important to know when to say ‘that’s enough’ and go home before you reach your goal, knowing the difference between wanting to stop and needing to stop can be hard sometimes. The ability to make the decision to prematurely finish an expedition is a must, if you really feel that you can’t go on then don’t be afraid to say it.
Always remember that Mount Everest will always be there, it is not worth dying for, and you can always go back another year to reach the summit of the highest mountain in the world.