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21 March 2011 11:23
Climber standing on top of a mountain
Mountaineering is not hiking, climbing or camping. It's all three of those things, usually combined with inclement weather and a high altitude setting. At every corner and with each step danger lurks so preparation is of paramount importance to the success of any expedition.
Whatever your motivation for reaching the top, be it a long held personal dream, reaffirming your self-belief and/or to raise money for a good cause, getting adequate adventure travel insurance will be one of your most important steps and possibly one of the easiest.
Travel insurance specialists offer a range of single trip policies and with their expertise they can tailor a policy to your specific needs, from an extra clause for walking at altitude to full mountaineering and trekking travel insurance.
With all this arranged you can get on to the tough stuff - your training programme. On a typical day you may make a 1000m ascent, getting up in the small hours of the morning and working hard well into the afternoon. Twenty minutes on the local treadmill is not going to prepare you for up to twelve hours of walking, scrambling, rope hauling, kicking, pulling, sweating, shaking sliding and wading endeavour.
Timing is really important, you should aim to get your heart and lungs fit a couple of months before you go. Get your training in early so you can take rest before you go. Arriving exhausted is hardly better than being unfit. Start by considering what in your lifestyle would enable you to do slow, steady exercise over a longer period of time. If you run, then go running on hills. If you own a bicycle then use peddle power to work the major muscle groups you will need for trekking. Walking can be made more beneficial by carrying extra loads. Fill up water bottles before you go, then empty them before the descent – all the extra exercise without wrecking you knees.
As well as being physically fit it is important to be emotionally strong and focussed. Sarah Knight recently completed a charity hike to Kilimanjaro for the children's medical research Sparks. Getting the comprehensive cover from a specialist travel insurance company gave her peace of mind which was really important when she had so much else to think about and organise. It gave her confidence that if anything happened to her she would be well looked after and that her insurance would take care of her family too. She describes her trek as one of the hardest things she has ever done, up there with childbirth in terms of pain and sense of achievement. But it was so worth it for Sarah, to date she has raised over £4,000 for Sparks.
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