Sunday, January 12, 2014

10 Steps to Everest

on the way to the last camp. Everest's
pyramid behind me. a menacing lenticular
cloud is visible (it spells bad weather)
 First, it’s never going to be easy. Many made plans, but were unable to pursue for many reasons. The guide below is really more to remind and encourage those wanting to climb the great mountain, or just wanting to climb any big mountains.  Not a strict template, but simply - ‘if you don’t know what to do next – you may want to consider this” offer.

(This is a focused/shorter version and a subset of my previous Alpine Mountaineering post).
1. Join an established mountaineering organization. To learn proper basic mountaineering, learn safety, allow more climb and training opportunities. Optional, but highly-strongly encouraged. Here are more reasons

2. Climb locally (in your country). A lot. Many years of climbing are good investment in experience. You climb to enjoy and learn - with no big objectives in mind. 

3. Climb something high. 18 to 20,000ft will be a good test. Something relatively easy and not strictly alpine. To test if you will like/ survive / endure / ‘temporarily die’ ;) in a high-altitude setting. Out of the 7 summits, Kilimanjaro would be a perfect candidate. There are more mountains that are high without the difficult alpine/technical routes – some mountains in the Andes perhaps, or Nepal during dry/spring season, or Tibet even (a hill near a town would already be above 16k ft).

4. Experience alpine. Or do #5 first. It doesn’t have to be a difficult climb, there are many treks around the world that will offer snow and very cold environment. How was your cold adaptation? Do you like the snow? Etc.

5. For safety reasons and to build extra skills/ knowledge – take a basic alpine course. It doesn’t have to be the ‘hardcore’ version, just enough knowledge and skill on ice and snow. Your best training is climbing, but alpine-course-training would be a good prep.

6. Climb a high altitude alpine mountain. Above 18k ft would be nice. This is a personal test of combining high altitude and alpine. How was your climb? Is this what you really want?

7. Climb something near or above 20,000ft/6000m. Something not too technically difficult, or simply not too difficult just yet (like Denali). Still liking it?

8. Climb a 7000m peak then! If you’re also thinking of the 7 summits, the nearest-to-7000m is Aconcagua (6962m), you may try that instead. Was your climb good? If not, repeat #7 and/or #8.  Don't be bothered if you repeat - enjoy mountaineering, enjoy the process.  Some may even get stuck in #7 never to climb a higher mountain again. But that's ok - just enjoy what you can and will climb.

9. A climb of an 8000m peak would be the ultimate ‘test’ prior to Everest. Several months before Everest would be ideal. Optional (and expensive)– but good build-up of courage/ confidence / experience / mental strength, etc. Three popular candidates - Manaslu (fairly recent), Cho Oyu, Shishapangma. If you summit nicely (and no health problems after), or near summit (even just the last camp) with perfect physical condition – then maybe you’re ready for the BIG THING.

10. Climb EVEREST. The climb would be challenging – but it’s all worth it. But note – it’s expensive, it’s dangerous – but so what! If you’re ready, work out the issues and JUST CLIMB IT!

Good luck!

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