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FAQ

How to prepare yourself to the mountains?

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Preparation for mountain climbing

This question is often asked by beginners who come to MCS AlexClimb School for practicing their initial mountaineering skills. After completing the “Basic Mountaineering Course”, come new ideas about the climbing plans, the mountain peaks become a little closer. And you want to continue moving in the desired direction - upwards.

The summit of Nevado Alpamayo in Peru is a dream peak, the most beautiful mountain in the world
The summit of Nevado Alpamayo in Peru is a dream peak, the most beautiful mountain in the world

However, in order to accurately answer the question of the preparation, I need to have an idea of what kind of plans you are making for your immediate mountain climbing future.

To begin with, let’s decide what kind of mountaineering we will do - high-altitude or technical. After all, the mountaineering routes can be divided into these two classes. This difference will affect the tactics of preparation.

Mount Elbrus, the east side
Mount Elbrus, the east side

For example, if you want to climb Mount Elbrus, Mount Ararat or Mount Kazbek - this will be the initial level of difficulty in the high-altitude class. If you want to go climbing Mount Belukha, Mount Tetnuld or Monte Rosa, you are welcome to the technical class. To explain it simply, for high-altitude routes you will need more health than agility.

Walking ascent to the top of Mount Andyrchi in the North Caucasus - acclimatization before climbing Mount Elbrus
Walking ascent to the top of Mount Andyrchi in the North Caucasus - acclimatization before climbing Mount Elbrus

And vice versa - for technical routes your agility is more important, although health has not been canceled either. For clarity, let’s look at three examples from our MCS AlexClimb School practice of the “preparing climbs from zero level”.

Mount Kazbek is the most popular climbing object in Georgia.
Mount Kazbek is the most popular climbing object in Georgia.

Let me make remark on that here I will only consider options for climbing under the leadership of an experienced guide; it is strictly not recommended to perform any independent heroic feats in the mountains. This text will focus exclusively on the physical training.

The best and most versatile form of preparation for mountaineering is rockclimbing.
The best and most versatile form of preparation for mountaineering is rockclimbing.

So, how can a person completely unfamiliar with mountains climb Mount Elbrus (Kazbek, Ararat)? All of these peaks have altitude over 5,000 meters high, but do not pose any technical difficulties on the classic routes. Than means the easiest way to reach its summits is by a good trail, without having to do any climbing nor scrambling.

At the top of Mount Ararat
At the top of Mount Ararat

These climbs will require patience and the will to win, but first of all, the ability for intense physical activity, which should be trained much before. All training methods are good to achieve results - running, swimming, skiing. Skating style cross-country skiing is especially effective. The classics skies are also good, but the skate style is a more intense technique that uses all muscle groups in your body.

One of the best ways to train for mountaineering is ski touring - which is a combination of touring and alpine skis.
One of the best ways to train for mountaineering is ski touring - which is a combination of touring and alpine skis.

By the way, the ability to use ski poles will be very useful to you on the alpine route - when climbing, poles are necessary, as they distribute the load and help you move up.

In short, if we start preparing six months in advance, doing three workouts a week with an emphasis on cardio, so by the summer we will have an ideal shape for climbing mountains. For the tasks of this level of mountain training, at which entry-level alpine climbs become available to you, a “MCS AlexClimb General Physical Training Course” was developed - a course of regular training aimed at developing the necessary physical endurance and mobility.

Mount Bazarduzu in Dagestan, Russia
Mount Bazarduzu in Dagestan, Russia

But what if you plan to do something steeper, if on the route you will have to climb with ropes and ice axes? If some parts of the route involve more or less continuous movement holding the slope with your hands? This is a more interesting and ambitious goal - moving one level up in the mountain climbing hierarchy of routes.

Climbing the peak of the MNR in the North Caucasus - advanced category of difficulty
Climbing the peak of the MNR in the North Caucasus - advanced category of difficulty

As an example of routes of medium difficulty category, I can name such programs from our mountain collection as climbing Mount Belukha, Mount Matterhorn (Hörnli route), Mount Tetnuld, Gestola Peak - all these routes at the altitudes of more than 4000 meters require the ability to deal with climbing equipment and confidently move on the relatively steep slopes - on the rocks, ice, snow.

Peak Tetnuld, Georgia, Svaneti
Peak Tetnuld, Georgia, Svaneti

How to prepare for climbing the mountains?

Before all I can recommend taking an Introductory Course in the mountaineering techniques - it includes all the basic theoretical recommendations necessary for completing alpine routes of initial and intermediate categories of difficulty. Next, it will be important to engage in physical training. In the process of training (if your plans go higher than simple hiking routes), I recommend tp do rockclimbing - which is the fastest and best way to improve coordination skills.

Rockclimbing is not only a way to healthy spend time in a beautiful place. This is also your investment in your future mountaineering plans.
Rockclimbing is not only a way to healthy spend time in a beautiful place. This is also your investment in your future mountaineering plans.

The more difficult gets the mountainous terrain, the more important becomes your ability to navigate through it efficiently and safely. This means that you must be able to move freely and be dexterous - this determines not only the speed of the climb, but also its safety. These skills should be worked on by developing overall coordination and physical culture.

Read more on the topic of the special preparation for difficult alpine climbs in this text

Mount Laila, Georgia, Svaneti
Mount Laila, Georgia, Svaneti

There comes a time when you have already decided that you are not interested in hiking in the simple mountains, holding by the hand of your guide. so next you want to be more independent and develop the skills necessary for more interesting routes and challenging mountains.

At the foot of the famous Mount Ushba
At the foot of the famous Mount Ushba

For this purpose, there is an excellent training module “MCS AlexClimb Iceclimbing Course in Norway”, where in 11 days of intensive training on the real natural ice you will gain all the most necessary technical skills. As well as improve your physical fitness for at least six months in advance.

Iceclimbing training in Norway
Iceclimbing training in Norway

In my deep conviction, which has been proven more than once in my practice, nothing develops coordination abilities better than rockclimbing. Rockclimbing can be called an ideal way to improve agility and movement culture.

During a rock climbing training program in Cuba.
During a rock climbing training program in Cuba.

To prepare for technical alpine climbs, we build a training schedule with an emphasis on physical fitness, the training program should include at least one rockclimbing training session per week (which would not to be bouldering! - I’ll explain why).

Depending on the initial physical data, more intensive training may be required.

After six months of purposeful training and sports discipline, definitely you will get the result - a strong and healthy body, ready for serious stress and difficult mountain routes.

MCS AlexClimb Iceclimbing Course in Norway
MCS AlexClimb Iceclimbing Course in Norway

The third example is high climbing ambitions.

What if you want to climb something that goes beyond the banal commercial routes? Asking this question, you immediately find yourself in our element, because difficult technical alpine climbs are the main specialization of the MCS AlexClimb School.

Mount Ushba, Mount Dykh Tau, Mount Shkhara, Mount Matterhorn, Mount Cook, Peak Khan Tengri, Communism Peak, Amadablam, Nevado Alpamayo - over 20 years of our guiding on these routes it has been proven that fantastic peaks are accessible not only to those who have spent half their life in the mountains.

Cerro Torre, Patagonia, Argentina
Cerro Torre, Patagonia, Argentina

The key to success is training and determination. Of course, the goal will not be easy one. But, with a serious approach, I can say with confidence that there are good chances!

There are numerous examples of the successful implementation of such projects. Mount Ushba, Mount Shkhara, Mount Matterhorn, Mount Tetnuld, Nevado Alpamayo, and other mountains I climbed with the people who had come to mountaineering quite recently and had completed a training course specifically designed for the task.

On the summit of Nevado Alpamayo, Cordillera Blanca, Peru
On the summit of Nevado Alpamayo, Cordillera Blanca, Peru

What's the secret? First, it is to avoid self-deception and not to overestimate your strength - only a person with sufficient physical and psychological skills can participate in any of the top grade climbing program.

The issue of the level of accessible goals is very important and individual; the final decision must be made by the expedition leader or guide. Ideally, it should be the person who will lead you on the route. Only the guide should make such decision - for him that is also a matter of more than personal safety.

Mount Ushba in Georgia, Svanetia
Mount Ushba in Georgia, Svanetia

So, the plan is ready and the goal has been chosen.

What is the next? – training, sports regime, trips for rockclimbing and iceclimbing. The duration of the training program is selected individually according to the complexity of the goal and can last up to 1.5-2 years. As a result, you will be fit and aware of your own capabilities - whether you are strong enough for the most successful and safe attempt to climb a peak included in the world ranking of most famous and difficult mountains.

Khan Tengri Peak in Kazakhstan
Khan Tengri Peak in Kazakhstan

Will you be able to do an ascent that would give you a reason to be proud of your achievements and the success throughout all your life?

No matter how ambitious your immediate goal is, I wish you patience and confidence in achieving it. If you really want something and stay strong in realization of your desire, you can achieve a lot.

Mountaineering is more than a sport - that is a best decoration of your life
Mountaineering is more than a sport - that is a best decoration of your life

So, strive and achieve, have patience and confidence in your success! As for me - I will help you to the best of my ability and experience!

The author of the text and photos - Alex Trubachev
Your mountaineering, ice and rockclimbing guide

MCS EDIT 2023

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.
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