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How to prepare yourself to the mountains?

What kind of training is needed for climbing in the mountains?

This question is usually asked by beginners who come to our mountain climbing school to improve their mountaineering skills. Indeed, after passing the “Basic course of mountaineering”, certain ideas about their own climbing plans appear, the mountain peaks become a little closer and people want to continue to move in the desired direction. However, in order to get the more accurate answer, you need to have an idea of what plans for your nearest mountaineering future you are building. To begin with that, we should define what kind of mountaineering we do - high-altitude or technical - basically, all the climbing routes can be divided into these two classes. Do you want to climb Elbrus, Ararat or Kazbek - please, this is the initial level of difficulty in the high-altitude class. If you want to scale Belukha, Tetnuld or Monte Rosa - welcome to the technical mountain climbing class. That is still quite simple - for high-altitude routes you need more endurance and health than agility, and vice versa - for technical climbing routes agility is more important, although health cannot be canceled. To make it more clear, we consider three examples from the practice of the successful cycle of the “preparation to the mountain climb from the zero level” of our MCS AlexClimb Mountain School.

Here I have to make a remark that I will only consider options for climbing under the leadership of an experienced guide, and you are strictly not recommended to perform any independent heroic undertakings. The following is exclusively about your physical training which is not the same as technical skills and tactical experience which are vitally important as well. So, how can a person totally stranger with the mountains climb Elbrus (Kazbek, Ararat)? All these mountains have an altitude above 5000 meters, but do not present any technical difficulties on the classical routes, that means that the easiest way to go to the summit of these mountains is to just walk, moving the legs. This will require patience and the will to win, but first of all - the physical ability for the intense physical activity, which should be trained in the first place.
For this task, all ways are good - running, swimming, skiing. And especially skate style cross-country skiing – the is absolutely the best. The classic cross-county skiing is also good, but the skate style is a more intensive technique that involves all the muscle groups of your body. By the way, the ability to use the ski poles will be very useful for you on the mountain route – when you go uphill on the mountain walking poles are very useful, as they distribute the load of your upper body and help you in moving upwards. In short, if you begin to prepare six months before the time you are going to the mountains, three workouts per week with an emphasis on cardio training that means you will be in a perfect shape for climbing right in time.
For the climbing goals of this mountaineering level, at which basic and not complicated ascents become possible for you, our "Course of general physical training" has been developed - training aimed at developing the necessary physical endurance and agility.

And what to do if you have something more steep or high in the plans, the mountain where you will need to climb with ropes and ice axes? If on the route, there are sections which imply more or less continuous movement on the steep or vertical slope, when for climbing you have to use your hands? Definitely, this is a more interesting and ambitious task - moving one level up in the climbing route hierarchy. As an example of the routes of starting level in this category can be called such programs from our collection as Belukha, Matterhorn (Hörnli route), Tetnuld, Gestola - all these peaks at altitudes of more than 4000 meters require the ability to work with mountaineering equipment and confidently move on the steep slopes - on rocks, ice, snow. How to prepare to that? For a beginning, I can offer for you an introductory course of mountaineering techniques - there you can get all the basic theoretical skills necessary for the routes of the initial and secondary categories of difficulty from PD to AD.
After that we should pay intention the physical training. In the process of training for the climbing of the routes of advanced level, I would definitely include rockclimbing - without this at this stage we cannot do any progress. I can explain. If the mountain terrain becomes more complicated for climbing, it requires from the climber more ability to move effectively and safely. What does it mean? That means that you must be able to move along the mountain obstacles with good coordination and spending less power - it depends not only on the speed of the climb, but also on its safety. These body skills should be developed by overall coordination and movement trainings.
Starting from this moment, when you have already decided that you are not interested in walking along easy mountains, being guided as a child by hand of your guide, if you want to be more independent and develop the skills necessary for more interesting mountain climbing routes - for this purpose I have an excellent training module "Iceclimbing in Norway" - a week of intensive training on the real natural ice. During this Iceclimbing Course you will get all the most necessary technical climbing and protecting skills, as well as pull up your fitness for at least six months ahead.

In my deep conviction, which has already been proved in practice more than once, nothing develops coordination abilities better than rockclimbing — I can call this kind of sports an ideal way to increase your agility and body coordination. We build our training schedule with an emphasis on general body training, but we include at least one rockclimbing session per week in the program, but depending on the final goal, it may be required more than one. For six months of purposeful training and sports discipline, one can get the result - strong and healthy body, ready for serious exertion and difficult situations.

And the third example is ambition. In case if you really want something that goes beyond the banal commercial routes? Here you immediately get into our world, as the difficult mountain ascents are the main specialization of the MCS AlexClimb Mountain Climbing School. Ushba, Dykh Tau, Shkhara, Matterhorn, Mount Cook, Khan Tengri, Peak Communism, Amadablam, Alpamayo, and so on - it has been proved by practice that these fantastic peaks are reachable not only for those who have spent half of their lives in the mountains. Most of the task is in the quality training and personal commitment. Of course, the task, in this case, will not be easy. But with a serious approach, it definitely can be said - there is a good chance for success! And there are also examples of successful implementation of such projects. Not that once, people who came to mountaineering quite recently and had undergone a training course, directly sharpened for the task, went up to the summits of Ushba and Matterhorn with me. What's the secret? First, that is to avoid self-deception and not to overestimate your strength - only a person who already has sufficient physical and psychological skills can become a member of such a top grade program. That is totally in the competence of the guide to make such a decision. And ideally - the guide that takes you to the route - for him it is a matter of life.

After the decision taken – indoor trainings, sports discipline, outdoor weekend on the rockclimbing and iceclimbing. The duration of the training program can be chosen individually and can take up to 1.5 years, but as a result you will have a convenient form and clear understanding of your abilities which will be sufficient for successful and safe attempt to make a really serious thing - climbing the mountain top, which is included into the list of the most serious climbs in the world, to the top of the mountain, to stay on which was managed by a very small number of people. To complete the mountaineering ascent, which for your whole life will give you a reason to be proud of your success. But no matter how ambitious is your immediate goal, I wish you to be patient and confident in achieving it. If your desire is strong and you are not afraid to spare lots of your power to realize your goal - you can achieve an impossible. So strive and achieve! And I will help you with all my strength and experience!

Text — Alexey Trubachev, founder of the MCS AlexClimb mountaineering and climbing school.

Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.