Why a mountaineering course is important if you hope to scale a Himalayan summit.
If you have hiked in the Himalaya, it is quite likely that you have set your sights on climbing a Himalayan peak.
Most people who are bitten by the bug of trekking in the mountains, keep returning to do something ever more challenging. After all, adventure is about the satisfaction of pushing one’s physical & mental limits. After graduating from low altitude treks to high altitude passes, and then perhaps a trekking peak or two, most people find themselves stuck if they want to climb any higher.
High mountains are a different cup of tea. If you want to graduate from being a high altitude trekker to a mountaineer, you have to learn about the various kinds of equipment (all those clips and spikes, the rope and all) and how to use them to ascend or descend the mountain slopes safely, how to arrest your fall, how to walk on a glacier roped up with other climbers, and how to rescue yourself or a fellow climber.
The only way to learn all this is by doing a mountaineering course.
Most climbing peaks pose you with significant challenges for which you will be better prepared after completing a mountaineering course.
Here we discuss some of the areas of mountain craft, that we hope will help you understand the importance of doing such a course.
Technique - When you are descending a slope with loose snow, or trying to get your crampons to bite into hard ice, technique plays a very important role. There are different methods and techniques for different degree of slopes on both snow and ice. Mountaineering courses help you understand these concepts, and more importantly let you practice these techniques many times until it comes naturally to you the next time you climb. Also, having a good technique will mean that you exert less, and can conserve your energy on long days in the mountains.
Efficiency - Being efficient in the mountains is extremely important, as it saves time. It can be the difference between reaching camp on time and relaxing, or being stuck in bad weather with an hour left to reach camp. Simple things like putting on your crampons on an inclined slope, or wearing your harness and roping up, can take several minutes if you are not proficient. It makes a huge difference when weather windows are small, and can make or break your summit chances.
Understanding - Mountaineering courses teach you to identify different features of the highly dynamic mountain environment, how they behave and how you need to work in sync with them. This knowledge will make you more aware of your surroundings, which will in turn help you assess what is safe and unsafe for you.
You get to practice on snow and ice slopes during the course under strict supervision which help you get your technique right and become more efficient on the mountain slopes.
Confidence - Whether you are negotiating a crevasse-filled glacier or traversing a tricky snow slope, you are more confident in every step if you have gone through the course. You would have practiced these skills in controlled environments, under the supervision of your instructors, which gives you a greater degree of confidence when you are on an expedition.
Being Self-Sufficient - On high mountains you can’t expect guides to be supervising all your movements. The environment is inhospitable – you can have winds hurtling at unimaginable speeds, snow storms build up in seconds, white-outs can cause visibility to drop to zero, temperatures can plummet to extremes, and a mountaineer should be able to fend for himself/herself. In these situations you should not have to be overly dependent on someone else, and it would be a great advantage if you know what to do for your own safety.
All the above mentioned points contribute to having a successful expedition.
If you have noticed, all these aspects of mountain craft are interrelated. A good technique will make you efficient, which in turn will make you more confident, more independent and self-sufficient on the mountain. All of this will help you build a good foundation, which is so important in order to have a safe & enjoyable experience climbing big mountains.
So, if you dream of climbing a mountain in the near future, we would highly recommend that you first undertake our mountaineering course before the climb.