What is Mountaineering?
Mountaineering is, quite simply, the sport of climbing mountains. Frequently, mountaineering includes rock climbing or ice climbing and often involves the use of technical equipment, such as an ice axe, rope, harness and helmet, as well as other gear.
Physical Benefits of Mountaineering
Mountaineering offers aerobic exercise, can improve cardiovascular fitness in participants and can reduce body fat. This can occur not only on the climb, but also while training for mountaineering. Also, mountaineering requires a climber to be physically strong and have great endurance in order to carry heavy loads or use technical ice tools while ascending a mountain.
Training for Mountaineering
Physical training for mountaineering requires aerobic conditioning for strenuous climbing. Carrying a weighted backpack can help to train the body to get used to carrying heavy loads, especially when walking uphill. Alpine Ascents, a mountaineering guide service, recommends its clients do a combination of aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, biking, hiking and cross-country skiing, as well as strength training.
It is important for mountaineers to acclimate to the altitude, which can often be quite high while climbing. Staying hydrated and spending time in high elevation but sleeping at lower elevation are good ways to avoid altitude sickness. Sometimes acclimating can take a few days, so give yourself plenty of time to move slowly up in altitude if necessary.
Other important things to consider while training for a climb include consuming enough calories, staying hydrated, avoiding hypothermia and frostbite and knowing how to use your mountaineering gear.
Checking With a Doctor Before Climbing
As with all strenuous activity, it is important to schedule a checkup with a physician before engaging in mountaineering or training for a mountaineering trip. A doctor can determine whether someone is capable of strenuous activity, and can make specific recommendations. Remember that mountaineering often takes place in isolated areas and help will most likely not be immediately available should you need it.
Intrinsic Benefits of Mountaineering
Besides the physical benefits of mountaineering, the sport offers other intrinsic benefits--for instance, setting a goal and reaching it. Also, it allows people to work with other people as part of a climbing team, and develop a sense of friendship and camaraderie.
Perhaps the most undefinable benefit of mountaineering is the pleasure one takes from being in the mountains. The clean air and untouched natural environment often have a positive impact on those who climb mountains, as does the feeling of experiencing a place that very few get to go.