Whilst the ideal training ground for any high-altitude climbing or trekking expedition in the Alps is in the mountains themselves, only a lucky few can call the Alps home for that extended period of time.
For those of us based in the UK there are still several ways you can effectively prepare to conquer far-flung summits and mountain passes whilst here in the UK. We take a peek at a few ways in which you can prepare for an alpine expedition without straying too far from home.
Apart from being an incredible escape from city life, heading to the hills can plan a vital role in preparing yourself for an alpine expedition.
As well as the obvious cardiovascular and fitness related benefits there are also several secondary benefits to hillwalking. Planning a route and successfully navigating your way around it is a key skill when alpine trekking and one that can be practiced domestically, whilst getting used to carrying loads on your back for a full day can prevent any unwelcome surprises after your first day of trekking.
When speaking to any of our guides one quality which is as important as fitness for all high alpine pursuits is surefootedness. Seeking out and successfully manoeuvring over jagged and exposed terrain is a fantastic way to prepare yourself mentally and physically for moving over the kind of terrain found in the Alps. Although hills in the UK cannot match the Alps for altitude, they can provide similar terrain to many of our most popular summer climbing trips, which is why we run our Matterhorn & Eiger Training Weekends in the beautifully rugged Snowdonia.
For some Mountain Tracks trips there is no strict requirement of previous alpine mountaineering experience, however at the very least we require all our adventurers to have a healthy amount of hill walking under their belts.
A general base level of fitness is needed for any physical challenge, and cross-training is a fantastic way to build and maintain a high level of fitness all year round, not just for alpine pursuits.
Whilst it is very difficult to judge how your body will react to thinner air until you are at altitude, you can get your body into the best possible condition before you get there. Prolonged periods of exercise will help you build up your cardiovascular fitness.
Interval training will prepare your respiratory system for the kind of exertion you will experience when ascending and descending rapidly. Activities like climbing will increase your core strength and balance which are both handy when scaling mountains.
Crosstraining has several benefits not only for preparing your body for summer pursuits, but also for winter trips. We looked in detail at the various benefits of cross training in our blog earlier in the year.
For some of our introductory trips there is no compulsory previous climbing experience, however seeking out some previous experience is always advisable.
Getting used to the basics before arriving in the Alps will pay dividends when it comes to tying on for the first time. Whether you are learning the skills for the first time or blowing away those climbing cobwebs before your next big trip, spending some time simulating the kind of activity you will be completing at altitude can prove invaluable.
Mountain Tracks run two different UK based skills weekends in Snowdonia on various dates throughout the summer, both of which are led by IFMGA Qualified Mountain Guides:
Alpine Skills Weekend – Perfect for newcomers to mountain skills. These introductory courses are the perfect way to take your first booted steps into mountaineering. Perfect for individuals, groups or even active families looking to learn new skills.
Matterhorn & Eiger Climber Training Weekend – Designed to prepare those heading to climb two of our most popular routes for their high alpine challenges this weekend aims to get attendees comfortable on slightly more technical routes and hone necessary skills, all whilst enjoying some of North Wales’ best climbing.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.