I work out minimum 4 days a week.
I walk a lot.
I like adventurous activities.
I spend an hour a day doing spinning classes.
Alternate days I take kickboxing classes
I take my dog for a jog for half an hour everyday after gym.
And so, if someone asks me I am fit, I would not be wrong to think or say, “Yes, I guess more or less- I am FIT.”
This was exactly what I told myself when I was packing up necessities and preparing for the next day, when I was going to attempt to climb the World’s second highest active volcano- Volcan Cotopaxi.
Cotopaxi is an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, located about 50 km south of Quito, Ecuador, South America. It is the second highest summit in the country, reaching a height of 19350 ft(5,897 m).
The actual climb for us would start at the car parking lot which was at a height of around 14,000 ft. From there we would climb up 1000 ft to the refuge point and then further up to the glacier which would be another 1000 ft. (Beyond this point was out of bounds and trekkers were not allowed to go).
” 2000 ft. Not bad. I can easily do it. I am fit as can be. After all I have the blood of an Army man in my veins.. Bahhh…It’s going to be a PIECE OF CAKE.”
I could not have been more wrong even if I tried to.
Only I know how I managed to climb up Cotopaxi and how I survived that day.( Read more about my adventures in my blog ).
In order to ensure that you do not do the same faux pas(pazzz..in plural) when you are attempting to climb any high terrain, I thought I would pen down some tips for you which I learnt the hard way. To save the embarrassment of being the ‘weak link‘ in the group of trekkers, I would highly recommend that you take the advice of a ‘victim of shame‘ seriously ;).
(I)Tips to take into consideration at least a month BEFORE the D-DAY:
1)Increase your workout time: So you work out an hour every day? Good for general health maintenance, but not good enough for the adventure you are about to undertake. Slowly increase your workout time by 15 minutes everyday, till you are comfortable working out at least 2-2.5 hours a day.
In fact, you can break it into- an hour in the morning and an hour and a half in the evening. This would ensure that you don’t stress out your body too much.
2)Increase stamina: In order to climb up a tough terrain, not only do your legs need to be strong, but you need to have a good(if not great) stamina. For this, running is the best form.
You can build up your stamina by increasing your running time in the morning work outs(preferably out in the open, instead of in the confines of a gym). Mornings are when the air is the freshest and the roads least crowded. Make the best of it.(Daddy will be the so proud that I finally learnt this lesson, after him trying to drill it in me for the past 20 something years.)
3)Go for small treks on the weekends: Test yourself. Weekends can be for driving up to the nearby hill on the outskirts of the city, and taking the pains to climb up that mount. Since more energy is spent while climbing up a slope, you will get an idea of what to expect on the D-Day.
(II)Tips to take into consideration at least a week BEFORE the D-DAY:
1)Cut down on the social gatherings: I know, I know. This is a tough one. But think of it this way. Would you rather be made the butt of all jokes by your friend circle next week, when you return half way from the trek you have been raving about for the whole month?? No right? I thought so.
It’s just a week. You can manage that. So stop ‘cribbing’, and stop ‘partying‘.
2)Change your diet drastically: No one asked you to be all adventurous and go raising your hopes on accomplishing that climb. But now that you have already dreamed, lets ensure that the dreams become reality. Avoid junk food, any kind of oily food, no alcohol and NO SMOKING.
Instead go for lighter meals and in more frequency. Every two hours have a fruit or salad or oat meal or green tea or dry fruits etc. And you can even have that chicken you have been eyeing; but only if it is grilled and not fried.(No oily food remember).
This will make you feel light as a feather which will definitely be very helpful.
3)Continue that work out and time yourself well:By now you would be very comfortable running for a considerable period of time without panting your tongue hanging all the way out. Time your self to keep a tab of your progress. More the time you manage, the better your stamina gets.
4)Have a medical check-up: A week before the D-Day get yourself a full body checkup. I have had quite a few fellow trekkers feel major chest pain, and have breathing problems when trekking up(thankfully it wasn’t me). Moreover, the fact that there will not be any kind of medical help at that kind of altitude is damn scary. So make sure you are ‘medically fit‘ to endure what is in store.
(III)Tips to take into consideration a day BEFORE the D-DAY:
3)Acclimatize well to the weather if in higher altitude.
4)Don’t worry, Be Happy :).
(IV)Tips to take into consideration on the D-DAY(while climbing up):
Now, this part is important. All eyes and ears on the pointers below(pretty please).
1)Dress appropriately: Make sure that you are adequately protected from the cold and the strong winds which you will face as you climb higher and higher. Last thing you need is a frost bite, or a numb limb. Also wear good, sturdy hiking shoes so as to ensure that you don’t slip and hurt yourself while you are out there.
2)Breathe-in, Breathe-out: Take few minutes before the actual climb in breathing in and out for a good 15-20 minutes. Walk around a bit and give your body some time in getting used to the sudden lack of oxygen; thus preventing hyperventilation.
3)Take small steps: Once you start climbing, don’t been in a rush to finish. Go slow. You need to save all your energy for the long way ahead. Match Every Step with Every breath. The higher you go the smaller the steps should get. If you feel out of breath, pause for a bit and give your body time to recover. Remember- Slow and Steady wins the race.
4)Keep sipping water: If you do not drink adequate water before as well as while trekking, the chances are that you will get dehydrated. And this will result in you not being able to acclimatize adequately enough to smoothly MOUNT THE BEAST. So keep sipping buddy.
5)Chocolates, Candy and Energy Bars: With the steep climb, strong winds and finger numbing cold you are bound to lose a lot of energy while pushing your body to go the final mile. To give a boost to the depleting energy, few bites of the dark chocolate/energy bar or the candies you are carrying will help you reach your final destination.
All in all,the body needs to be taken extra care of and nurtured well, before you start that one tough journey. This will definitely ensure that you meet your goal without any harmful effects in the short or the long run.
Like I said before, I learnt this the hard way when I was unprepared for a climb which I had been looking forward to for a long time. After that day, I read a lot of articles to figure out where I went wrong.
Hopefully, I have been able to pass my learning’s to you and helped you prepare better for that upcoming trek next month.
I quote few lines of one of my favorite poems taught by my father. He quoted them to me when I was a little girl to inspire me to reach my goal and work hard towards it. Hope it brings the same inspiration to you, as it did to me and still does.
The heights by great men reached and kept
were not attained by sudden flight,
but they, while their companions slept,
were toiling upward in the night.
Hope you enjoyed this blog. Keep reading for more that will soon come your way.