Sunday, 23 July 2017

"Why I need to work on my physical fitness before I go for a trek?"

"Why I need to work on my physical fitness before I go for a trek?" which is a very common question asked by trekkers these days. Through this article I'll try to answer this common question and hope this will clear many doubts. Being in the outdoors is always adventurous & can be challenging for anyone & if someone is planning for a Trekking activity in mountains then fitness should be the main objective during preparation. There are many instances in the past which proves that a unfit trekker is more dangerous than bad weather in the mountains. I am going to highlight some reasons which supports this line"why should a trekker needs to work on his/her fitness before going for a trek"

High Altitude Zone- Most of the people are not aware what exactly High Altitude Zone is?. Any Altitude above 8000ft from sea level comes under high altitude zone where the air pressure is low as compare to the sea level and the oxygen molecules are more scattered in the atmosphere which results in less oxygen for a trekker at different altitude & most of the trekking routes are above this altitude and Insufficient oxygen level becomes problem for a unfit trekker because of breathlessness issue in high altitude zone which lead to more problems for the individual & for the team. Wherein. Chances of a fit trekker to adapt is more in any altitude & completing the trek.

High Altitude Sickness- Any trekker who is not physically fit is prone to High Altitude Sickness more in comparison to a fit trekker. Sickness occurs in High Altitude Zone known as High Altitude Sickness like AMS, HAPE, HACE and these sickness may sometimes lead to death as well. In order to avoid these sickness a good physical fitness is a must & that is why it is always recommended to work on the physical fitness before coming for a trek

Timing in mountains- Timing is everything in mountain & if an individual or a team is not on time in mountains there existence is in danger in mountains because a team can miss the summit of a mountain if they are not disciplined in the mountains because there might be some unfit trekkers in the team and sometimes even in the bad weather conditions having a unfit trekker in the team can become life threatening to anybody. On the other hand, A team of fit trekkers has more chances to complete & summit any peak on time.

Being in Preventive mode- It is always better to be in Preventive mode in mountains rather than in curative/survival mode. If a trekker comes under survival mode in mountains due to bad fitness level. The trekker will not be able to enjoy the trek and may end up leaving the trek in between as well, but on the other hand, A fit trekker will enjoy the trek more and can become a support for others as well in the group.

Got more time to Enjoy- A fit trekker always have the advantage to enjoy more on a trek as compare to a unfit trekker. A fit trekker can complete the daily trek in a specified time period and can invest his/her spare time in other activities once the day trek is over. Also a fit trekker will get enough time to rest during the trek & will have more time for photography,etc during the trek. A fit trekker can also enjoy camping time more instead of sleeping in the tents to regain the energy for the next day which is a very common problem with unfit trekkers during the trek.

These are some of the reasons which shows "why a trekker should work more on physical fitness before going for a trek?". In the coming days I will be sharing an article about "How can I improve my physical fitness before I go for a trek?"

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Ankur Pathak

Saturday, 28 January 2017

My First Turn Back- KUARI PASS

       My First Turn Back- KUARI PASS

My First Turn Back- KUARI Pass
Turn back is a word which no mountaineer likes but sometimes this only word teaches you a lot. This is what happens with me as well on my last trek to KUARI Pass.

KUARI Pass is one of the famous trek near Auli in Uttrakhand and this December 2016, I was here for leading the treks via India Hikes. This Season I have already completed two successful KUARI Pass batches and this one was my last batch of this Season. As usual I was mentally and physically prepared for the trek and I got a team of 8 trekkers along with one guide for this last batch. The trekkers were also very decent and serious about Trekking. The first two days of trek was done nicely, but second day afternoon weather starts getting worst. Snowfall started and by evening the whole forest was covered under snow and my mind started thinking about the upcoming day (the Pass Day). My trekkers started asking me are we going to KUARI Pass tomorrow? as it's snowing regularly and it's freezing cold as well. I assured them we will try till the end to reach KUARI Pass, but Safety is our prime priority. I saw disappointment on few trekkers faces whether they will make it to KUARI Pass or not. Fortunately by late evening, the snowfall stopped. My Guide and I decided to take a final call for Pass Day on next day early morning depending on weather and terrain condition. I told my trekkers to prepare themselves mentally that we all will try to go KUARI Pass considering Safety first. Next day morning when I woke up I saw snow everywhere. It was not snowing but the weather was not in good mood, after discussing with my staff, I decided to go for KUARI Pass till the time weather is good or else we will turn back, Honestly I was not thinking of turn back because I have never returned from any summit or Pass Day and I was looking to complete this time as well. I gathered all trekkers and updated them accordingly and asked everyone to reach Lord Kurzon trail by 10.30 am, if we have to hit KUARI PASS, We also gave them micro spikes to walk on snow. We started our journey for the day, it was freezing cold and weather was not on our side, the time we reached Lord Kurzon trail it was already 11.00 am and Snowfall has already started. I was able to see KUARI Pass in front of me fading in the black clouds and suddenly it was all white out up there. There was a frozen river waiting for us half a km away from kurzon trail in order to reach KUARI Pass. Now the decision was on me to go ahead or to turn back, my trekkers were coming one by one behind me. I could feel the snowflakes on my face and the strong waves of wind. My first thought was let's give a chance may be weather will not turn worst. But then I turned back saw my few trekkers fighting with conditions and weather. I thought there is no way I can put anyone's life under risk, I stood there on kurzon trail for some time and I was looking up in the Sky. In the meantime another trekking group passes us and Sunlight came up from the sky and then I looked towards KUARI Pass which was still in black clouds and snow and I knew the weather will be worse in sometime. Then one of my trekkers asked me "Sir, are we going forward?” I said "No". It came out of my mouth and suddenly my mind said to me, "No, give a try", but I think somewhere from myself I got the answer and I decided to follow it. My trekkers were disheartened that coming that near to the Pass, we are turning back. But they respected my decision and we started descending. While going down the snow fall starts heavily and I looked back to KUARI and I was thinking I never turned back in my life, why I did this today? Did I make the right choice?
Well after completing the trek and sending my trekkers back safely. I am still thinking I might be able to go and complete the Pass or might be not taking the risk was the right choice. Well time will surely tell me the correct answer.
I always say "No one is bigger than these mountains” and what this trek taught me "Sometimes turn backs are also important in life".

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- Ankur Pathak