Hiking and Mountain climbing are ever more popular these days. People all over the world are discovering the positive health effects of hiking and spending quality time in nature.
Even if you are not thinking of hiking the Mount Everest or the Matterhorn, it is important to be well prepared. When hiking in the mountains in remote areas many unexpected challenges can pose real risks to health and lives. The weather in the mountains changes a lot faster than in the lowlands turning a nice sunny walk into rain, a snow storm or dense fog, posing a test of perseverance and one’s preparation. Or a team member can slip and break a leg or have another injury which requires medical attention and an emergency decent. Hiking a mountain is not a walk in the park. Even when having a fun group of people coming together, never loose the respect for the dangers that can occur in the mountain.
Any longer hike requires at a minimum adequate route planning for the length of hike and area, the right equipment for the weather conditions and trail type and physical stamina, ideally from routine exercise. Hiking high mountains is not like running a marathon. On the trail the physical exercise type changes many times depending on the terrain, eg. slow uphill, steep uphill, slippery, big rocks, small rocks, downhill. As a result the body and the muscles used are more varied than when running a marathon.
In Indonesia there is one particular challenge linked to its location near the equator. Indonesia’s climate is tropical with high humidity. Hiking in hot and humid weather are a challenge that hikers from Europe or North America are not used to. And whilst the days are very hot, at night, above 2,700 MASL, in the dry season, the temperature can drop fast below 0 degrees celsius. Maybe you would not imagine you would find ice crystals resembling snow on Mount Semeru & Mount Gede for example.
Of course it’s not snow. There is not snow falls on the island of Java. Ice crystals are actually frost that is frozen due to cold weather. The phenomenon of ice crystals is naturally common between August and October.
The highest mountain in Indonesia is 4,884 MASL. And the highest volcano is 3.805 MASL. If the body is not accustomed to changes in hot and humid weather during the day and extreme changes at night that are very cold, then you can get symptoms of hypothermia. In addition, muscles that get tired quickly also have a higher risk of cramps, which can be a fatal risk when passing through steep inclines or narrow stretches.
Therefore, thorough and routine preparation are needed before climbing the mountain
Running is very helpful to increase your stamina for long hikes. Imagine a long hiking trail, such as Mount Argopuro. In a day you usually spend 8 hours hiking. In comparison few people run longer than 45 min. However, when preparing a high altitude multi-day hike, ideally one prepares with 2 hours jogging several times a week.
Swimming is very helpful for breathing control when climbing mountains. Because not only excellent stamina is needed, but also breathing techniques. Remember when climbing a mountain, do not breathe through your mouth, because it will make you quickly run out of energy and also stomach aches such as muscles that are attracted and cramps
Breathe through your nose regularly. So that you are not feeling dizzy and pale like running out of energy.
Swimming regularly 1 hours several times a week is very helpful.
- Cycling through the hills
Cycling also increases thigh and leg muscle stamina. You can do it in the nature. Or if you want, you can go to work by bicycle if possible in terms of the environment, you also need to think in terms of pollution and traffic congestion.
Stretching can be done at the time when you wake up, do sit ups and push ups
- Stairs training
Many mountaineers employ this technique. They find long high stairs, eg. in a skyscraper and train by walking up the stairs with a backpack packed with weights (can be filled in with drinking water for instance). This gives you a very realistic practice of the physical conditions on a hike. If you work in an office tower, make it a habbit to walk up the stairs to your floor twice a day, eg. in the morning and after lunch. Like this you can prepare effectively every day.
- Exercising at 4 o’clock in the morning
Why morning? To adapt to the cold weather. No need to do every day. But try it a few days to get the feel for it.
If you don’t have the chance to do it in the outdoor, use a gym or do sport in your own home with the help of home exercise videos. But don’t find excuses for good physical preparation for a hike. Otherwise you increase the risks on the hike for you and your team by slowing the team down in the best case or creating a severe situation where you cant continue in the middle of the trail and your group or tour guide needs to find a safe way to bring you back down from the mountain.
Well … happy exercise. Remember all success requires routine self-discipline.
Writers : Sania Dora & Patrick Horend (Indo Trekkers Business Owners)