Tag Archive for trekking tips

Dave’s 11 Top Mountain Tips

 

 

Resident mountain expert Dave Sculthorpe has seen a peak or two in his time, having climbed to the heights of Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp and Oman. We asked him to come up with his top mountain tips to help you prepare for your next challenge.

 

 

Choose the right mountain, be realistic!
If you have never tried on a pair of walking boots, then Stok Kangri may not be the one for you. Here at Charity Challenge we’re all about being inspired, but we also want you to achieve that goal. It may be best to start with a UK challenge like our Snowdon Triple Challenge. Once you have the mountain bug then you can look at going farther and higher. Most of the best UK mountaineers cut their teeth in Scotland or Snowdonia and still keep coming back!

Choose your route and plan
Some of our challenges have different routes or seasons that you can ascend them in. Your first job is to do some research and see what will be best for you. Once signed up its time to start learning! Look at the history of the region, flora and fauna, myths, legends, language. This will heighten the experience when you get there. For me, reading about the mountaineering history of the Khumbu region made my trek to Everest Base Camp that bit more atmospheric.

Train
This is universal for any challenge. If you do not have the physical ability then the challenge will be much harder than it really needs to be! This is not to say you need to be an Olympian and everyone will still struggle at certain points. All it means is that you will not need to suffer unnecessary discomfort and you will really be able to enjoy what is all around you! We provide full training plans and advice for how best to maximise this.

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Let people know where you are going
More applicable to going out alone in the UK than one of our overseas challenges, but we have all seen 127 Hours…

Gear up
Along with training this is the one thing that can make or break a challenge. Most leaders will have seen waterproofs that aren’t water proof, soles falling off boots in the first 45 minutes, horrible blisters or just generally unusable junk. Firstly, do your homework, Don’t worry if you don’t know your boots from your Berghaus, there are plenty of reviews online, or go into a shop like Cotswold and ask the staff. Here are a few key things to look for in kit:

  1. Fit for purpose – do you need warmth, waterproof, sun protection, breathability?
  2. Good quality – Does it do what it needs to?
  3. Lightweight – You are going to carry it, so make sure you aren’t loaded more than the pack mule.
  4. Inexpensive – Kit can be expensive, but don’t always go for the most expensive kit. You can get good bargains when you know what to look for!
  5. Worn in – Try before you buy, then wear it whilst training so that you have worked out any problems. The last thing you want is for you to discover something catastrophic when you get to the mountain.

Dealing with altitude! Pace yourself
Altitude can affect anyone! It does not discriminate between how fit you are, how good your kit is or how old you are! No matter which mountain you are attempting you can bet the local guide will have a phrase that roughly translates to ‘slow down’. ‘Pole Pole’, which means ‘slowly slowly’ in Swahili, often becomes a mantra when climbing Kilimanjaro. And for good reason, the slower you go the better chance you have to let your body adjust or acclimatise. This will ultimately make the whole experience more pleasant and avoid the worst symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness).

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Hydrate
Sounds simple, but staying well hydrated will solve so many problems it is a wonder to think it’s so underrated. Whether you are in the desert and mountains of Oman, the Cairngorms or the Andes, it is so important. Being hydrated makes our body’s performance better and ultimately the challenge easier, but it also helps prevent heat illness and aids acclimatisation to altitude.
Top Tip: If you really hate drinking water try and take concentrated squash or isotonic powders to make it more interesting, or mask the taste of your water purification tablets.

Prevention and protection
You only have yourself to blame…
Mountains can be harsh environments despite the amazing scenery. UV levels are much stronger at altitude due to the sun’s rays passing through less atmosphere. This can really surprise people so you should wear high factor sun cream and lip balm with SPF protection. Similarly the weather can be tough and very changeable, so the correct kit, hydration and attitude will help you prevent everything from hypothermia to heat exhaustion depending on the environment. Don’t be scared – all of this is easily avoidable!

Enjoy the journey
This sounds simple but is important. Often, if people aren’t used to walking on uneven terrain with walking poles and with a backpack on, they spend a lot of time hunched over looking at the floor. Remember to pick your head up and take in everything that is around you. Chat to the guides and your fellow trekkers, play games and take lots of photos and videos. Remember this is what you have been building up to for months so make the most of it.

Bring a treat
Sometimes it is incredible the morale boost a little home comfort can bring. Whether this is a sachet of cuppa soup or hot chocolate, your iPod or a comfy pair of shoes for around camp. It can make the difference in reminding why you signed up and why you are pushing yourself to the limits.

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Be ready to adapt
This is true of all expeditions but especially mountain treks. Things will change, plans will go out the window and the heavens will open when you really wanted that bucket list photo. This is just what happens and if you can take this in your stride or even learn to enjoy this inevitability of expeditions, then your time will be all the better for it.

 

Now that you’ve got the tips, we bet you’re ready to bag yourself a peak! Head over and choose your challenge today.

choose your challenge

Assorted Tips on How to Pack Light

Charity Challenge has been in the business of organising treks for over 10 years, and in this time we’ve acquired a smorgasbord of tips and tricks on how survive a charity challenge; So I thought why not share some of best!?

For the first tip, I’ve decided to focus on a skill that all trekkers will need – whether they’re spending a long weekend on the Etna Volcanic Adventure or trekking to Everest Base camp on a mammoth two week long challenge  – the ability to pack light, and more importantly pack precise, is a must have!

So I’ve compiled 5 rules on how to not pack the kitchen sink and stay successfully under your flight weight limit, whilst packing everything you need to take on a charity challenge and have the adventure of the lifetime!

Rule 1) – Do your research.

It can be hard to find that balance when it comes to packing, packing light that is the ideal we all want to achieve, but packing too little is an even worse state of affairs than packing too much. Indeed, making assumptions can be dangerous, for example, just because your trek is in a hot country doesn’t mean you should just pack vests and t-shirts, most hot countries get chilly in evenings so if you don’t pack a jumper or coat you’re in for some very unpleasant nights. So it is absolutely worth it to dedicate some time to researching your trek first, Charity challenge are particularly helpful with this as we essentially do this for you! By providing a detailed day by day itinerary of each of our challenges, as well as a country profile, Q&A sheet and advised kit list. So make sure you read all of these thoroughly before you even start putting your stuff together!

Rule 2) – Be realistic

Think about where you’re going, what you’re doing and what you 100% absolutely need. What works well for me is to make a two columned list, one column labelled ‘must haves’ and one labelled ‘maybe’. For example, if you’re going on the Thailand Jungle Expedition, insect repellent is a must! And Mascara or say an evening jacket is more of a maybe (once again, Charity Challenge helpfully does this for you! As our kit-lists come with a ‘must have’ and ‘optional’ labelling!) You’ll find that pretty much everything on your maybe list is expendable and can be chucked out the rucksack. For some, this may prove a very painful process, but take comfort in the fact that if you successfully follow these 5 rules, and your luggage passes the point 5 test, then you can reward yourself buy re-instating a couple of luxury ‘maybe’ items’!

Rule 3) – Use every inch

Think Mary Poppins and her magical bag, it really is amazing just how much you can fit into an everyday rucksack if you pack properly! I find the key is to make the most of the space you have: Firstly, if you can, wear your bulkier items – like trekking boots, coats and cargo trousers – during your flight to save space in your luggage. Then take advantage of any space you can, roll up your T-shirts or flat pack them down, stuff your socks into your trainers and basically approach it like a jigsaw puzzle. All these little efforts combined really can have a Tardis like effect on your rucksack!

Rule 4) – buy miniature

Chances are you’re not going to get through a full bottle of shampoo, or a whole tube of tooth paste in the duration of the trek, so buying miniature versions of these products or decanting them into smaller bottles is a smart way to save space without having to sacrifice anything. In any case, buying doll size toothpaste, tiny little moisturisers and amazing fold-up tooth brushes is half the fun of going away! Well it is for me anyway…            

Rule 5) – Have a practice run

The moment of truth! Once your bag is packed, have a practice walking around with it because as soon as you hop off that plane, you could well be the one lugging it around! On most trips we have porters and you only need to get your bags to and from your room or tent at the end of the day, but this point is especially important if you’re taking a challenge like our Etna Volcanic Adventure, where you carry your full rucksack on your back during the hike to the wilderness huts. Be realistic and honest with yourself here, if it’s too heavy, take something out, if you feel you can handle a bit more, treat yourself to an extra item!

So there you have it! Follow these 5 rules, and a heavy or overly sparse rucksack won’t get in the way of you having the time of your life! For more top tips, and to learn more about all our charity challenges, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com, and, to keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

Blog by Mai, Marketing assistant