While sunny, sandy and exotic European getaways are probably the average person’s favourite type of holiday, in some regards the travel industry has also taken a darker turn. Some years ago, hiking would have been regarded as an ‘active’ holiday but nowadays, that term can only be reserved as something as extravagant as mountain climbing.
That’s right, the amount of people who are deciding to take the plunge (not literally, we hope) is surging. In a bid to extract that ultimate adrenaline rush, more and more folk are taking to the mountains in one, or more, of their annual four weeks off work.
It’s certainly not going to be something that applies to anyone, and any parenting guide that does exist is unlikely to recommend it for a family getaway. However, for a select few individuals it’s the perfect escape – even though it’s as far away from ‘normal’ as one could describe.
Bearing this in mind, this latest post has been put together to highlight what you should expect if you are contemplating a holiday up the mountains. In fact, let’s rephrase that, this expedition is far from a ‘holiday’ and you’ll have to cope with some seriously challenging times. Here’s a brief guide on what to prepare for.
We were going to entitle this first point ‘Death’ – but let’s not be too hasty. It does go without saying that a climbing up a mountain prompts significantly more risks than your standard deckchair holiday, and falls are par for the course.
Keeping your wits about you is absolutely essential if you are to survive. Admittedly, if you’re just heading out to one of the smaller mountains, a sprained ankle might be your biggest worry. However, once you start cranking it up a notch, things get a little more serious.
We thought we’d just put it out there anyway – now’s the time to click the back button if you have any worries! If not, hit the next section to see how you can maximise the chances of staying safe.
Fail to plan, plan to…
It’s something of a cliché, but failing to plan can be the worst mistake you can make as you hit the mountains. We’re primarily on the topic of purchasing the correct equipment and at this point it should probably be pointed out that now is not the time to ‘cheap out’ on the budget brands. Make sure you buy a harness from a reputable manufacturer, while the same applies to any ropes, first aid equipment, trekking poles and anything else that is considered essential. Now is not the time to adopt the DIY approach and take the washing line as your ‘rope’ – you must invest accordingly in a bid to preserve your safety.
It’s a fair weather sport…
Considering the fact that golf is quite often described as a fair weather sport, it seems somewhat inappropriate to be describing mountaineering along the same lines. However, this term applies to an even bigger extent.
All is well and good if it’s a sunny day, but as soon as any sort of turbulent conditions start to brew you’re in for a nasty day out. In fact, it can be a completely dangerous trip up and if you are met with bouts of heavy rain or snow, you need to turn back or at least seek shelter.
This again revolves to planning and highlights why you must keep track of all of the places of shelter up the mountain you are attempting to conquer. On those bigger stretches, don’t think twice about bringing a tent or some other protection as well – you might just be stuck up there for a considerable period of time if the heavens don’t shine favourably.
Hit the gym
Nobody will dispute the fact that this is an active sporting holiday. Unfortunately, this is one of the few sporting events where a lack of fitness can prove to be fatal. Don’t let your eyes deceive your legs and even if you think you’re about to climb one of the smaller mountains, still put the time in at the gym to ensure that your body can cope.
This isn’t the time where a couple of runs on the treadmill is going to suffice either. It’s a bit like cross-country running – a standard gym session doesn’t prepare you for what it’s all about. In the real thing, you’ll be armed with a gigantic backpack with all of your lifesaving supplies, while the incline will knock any treadmill setting off the scale.
Therefore, the best idea is to combine a bit of indoor and outdoor training. Try and keep your preparation as much like the real thing as possible, even if it means a few hill sprints at the local farm.
On a final note…
A common theme throughout this post is that your mountaineering holiday isn’t going to be like any other vacation you have taken in your life. Done correctly, it can be the best thing that you have ever experienced and it will be something that you’ll remember, and most probably repeat, for years to come. However, cut corners and you’ll regret it – this is a getaway that is only reserved for those who know how to take legit risks…