Expedition mountaineering tests your climbing skills to the limit but it is also hard to get into. Here we explain how to start.
So you have decided that you want to face the biggest challenges that you can find. Maybe you are a thrill seeker or you have already mastered the other forms of climbing and even done a few small mountaineering peaks.
But how do you start getting into expeditions? This guides should help you on you way to ascending the highest of peaks.
What is Expedition Mountaineering?
Expedition climbing, or mountaineering, is where you tackle the highest peaks on earth, all of which a situated in the Great Ranges. These mountaineering trips are not a week away but many weeks or even months. For example, to climb Everest will take around 60 days. They are mountains that you almost certainly will need to go with a guided company to handle the logistics while you handle yourself on every aspect of climbing, mountaineering and endurance.
What skills do I need?
Going into the great ranges will require a building of your previous climbing and mountaineering, especially winter, skills. Navigation in bad weather, moving together on a rope, use of ice axe and crampons on level and steep terrain, belay skills and the ability to read objective dangers.
At altitude everything becomes a lot harder as your brain is starved of oxygen so you will need these skills to be second nature to you even if you go with a large company with a good client:guide ratio- a guide can only help you so much.
How do I train?
Mountaineering at altitude is very taxing, both physical and even more so mentally. The weeks, or even months, have a massive impact on you.
The most important aspect will be to train your mind to deal with the hardships you will face. Going on smaller expeditions, the Alps are a great place for this, in order prepare yourself for those long long days and reduced oxygen.
Go on plenty of long mountain day, in summer and winter, to build up your physical shape, pushing yourself hard to make you body work. Even when you can’t get out into the mountains make sure you do physical exercise that forces you to push through your mental barrier of ‘I can’t go on’
Finally, practice the skills you need while on the mountains. This will give you the chance to refine your skills while physically and mentally exhausted which you will be at altitude.
Do all this, for many months, and then you will be fit enough to climb even Everest.
What gear do I need?
We have another detailed article linked below with what equipment you need for expedition mountaineering but it is broadly similar winter mountaineering. In short you will need Mountaineering Boots, Crampons, Ice axes, Thermal Base Layers, Fleeces, Down Jacket, long warm socks, and depending how high you want to go a Mountaineering Jacket or and Expedition Suit. Take a look at our mountaineering clothing collection