Requirements for Himalaya Tours

Please read carefully.

Tours in the Himalayas are very demanding unless visitor chose to stay below 5000 m of altititude. If you plan to visit heights greater than that Europeans in general have to thoroughly perpare themselves and acclimatize in the country.

The pysical constitution of the nepali has adapted to the high altitudes. Bigger lungs in relation of the body size and approximately twice the number of red blood cells make life easier for them in altitudes beyond 5000 m. In addition, the inhabitants of this mountain range have two more advantages: They are smaller and possess high endurance combined with strength. Their vegetarian diet results in a smaller body size with corresponding advantages in body mass and weight. Marathon runners know exacly what I’m talking about.

Everyting in the Himalyan region in most parts of Nepal has to be carried due to the lack of roads. Any sack of rice, flour, sugar etc. has to be carried with muscle power to the higher destinations. Therefore, the malnutrition (compared to Westerners) and the hard work give Nepali their superior abilites at high altitudes.

To meet the physical requirements of a mountain tour in Nepal it is advisable to go through a medical preparation, including health checks, vaccinations, etc. and an extensive sportive preparation (running, climbing, bodybuilding, etc.). However, it is certainly not necessary to be able to run a marathon or to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger (to much body mass is counter productive!). Nevertheless, a targeted strengthening of muscles important for mountaineering and long hikes is mandatory. Unless you would like to feel like a sack of potatoes between your fellow wanderers. Please keep in mind that quick and drastic changes of the weather conditions may increase the requirements over night.

Please make sure to be well prepared. This includes sufficient clothing, backpacks and medications (antibiotics, plaster against blisters, nausea, etc.). Please consult your doctor, explain what you are planning and ask for medical advice. Fitness clubs will certainly support you in your preparation and work out training plans for you.

Important Guideline: The tolerance of high altitudes and physical fitness are unfortunately NOT associated with each other! Even top athletes easily suffer severely from altitude sickness, i.e. headaches, nausea, deception, etc, If these symptoms appear and persist, there is only one remedy: leave the altitude immediately and descent approximately 500-1000 m. Please follow this advice! High altitude sickness leads suprisingly quick to lung and/or cerebral edema and therefore very often to death.

Haughtiness or group pressure are dangerous advisors in the Himalayas (and the Alps)!

Summary: It is necessary to have a

  • Good physical condition
  • Tolerance for high altitudes (depending on the destination and the highest point of the tour)
  • Basic knowledge of First Aid (particularly for damages due to excessive exposure to sun and cold, including the correct conduct). Please brush up your skill at the Red Cross or similar organizations.
  • All necessary vaccinations. Tetanus, Polio, Typhus, Hepatitis A und B, Yellow fever (for the jungle lowlands), Malaria, etc. Your doctor or the public health department will know all requirements and advises. Do not take this advice lightly! Any vaccination is better than the best medication in case of illness.
  • Perfect Gear and equipment, depending ot he individual tour and cold sensitivity. One major rule: bring as much as necessary but nothing unnecessary. Your alpine club will surely supply a list of useful items to pack.

Levels of difficulty in our tours

Easy Trekking: Walking times of roughly 4 – 6 hours per day. Hard surface ways/paths, steep paths managable for every experienced and surefooted trekker.

Challenging Trekking: Walking times rougly 4-8 Std. Generally hard surface paths, sometimes pathless passages, exposed paths requiring sufficient surefootedness and a head for heights. Sometimes it is necessary to cross free running creeks and rivers.

Peak trekking may require experience in mountain climbing, weather, conduct, traversing blocked or pathless terrain, easy climbing and crossing frozen snow fields (however, still walking without crampons, ice picks or ropes)

Mountain Climbing Normal Tours: Extended requirements for fitness, surefootedness, head for heights and tolerance for high altitudes. Steep paths over mountain slopes, mountain ridges and gullies. Walking without ropes even in very steep terrain and sufficient mountain experience in the Alps or adequate mountain ranges. Basic knowledge of belaying techniques in rock and ice as well as crampons and ice picks. In case of crossing glaciers and cravasses, knowledge of the basic ice technologies are mandatory.

Mountain Climbing Difficult Tour: Highest demands for fitness, surefootedness, head for heights and tolerance for high altitudes. Extremely steep paths over rock and ice. Walking without ropes under these conditions. Long alpine experience in rock and ice climbing techniques, belaying and perfect handling of rope, crampon, ice hacks as well as rescuing people in rock and ice and crossing glaciers. This includes sufficient experience in orientation, weather, the planning of tours, judging the dangers of avalanches and falling rocks. Extended knowledge in First Aid and the medical requirements of high altitudes.

Remark of the Author

Outdoor sports include an objective and subjective component of danger! Therefore an objective classification is not possible. The prior descriptions are only meant for a general evaluation of adequate preperations that may vary with the tour chosen and its participants.

Final Remark

If you would like to go tours aside the well-trodden paths (from demanding trekking to normal mountain climbing, why not participate in a rock and/or ice course of your local Alpine Club? This will give you the opportunity to familiarize yourselve with the techniques to move safely in rock and ice and to invest into the right equipment. Please keep in mind that visiting the high mountain ranges of Nepal will expose you to conditions usually only found beyond the 70th degree latitude. And this includes all dangers of quick weather changes, storms, snow and ice. The mostly unmarked and unsupported routes will make more damanding tours an adventure and a great experience. However, they should NEVER be underestimated.