Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC):
“Please park your vehicle at specified parking lots. Parking at owner’s risk”…
Please read the above disclaimer carefully before enrolling for a Basic Mountaineering Course. This course is the first step towards adventure in mountains, however the decision is yours!!!!
First Time Mountaineers; General Mountain Enthusiasts; people enrolled or thinking of enrolling themselves in Basic Mountaineering Course in India; folks who have an addiction of being in the mountains, so on and so forth……
Why enroll for BMC:-
- Listen, Learn & Enjoy means Listen to your lectures / instructors / friends / team members / chirping of birds; Learn from Personal Experiences before / during / after the course; Enjoy the beauty of NATURE.
- Meeting new people who become your Good friends for LIFE.
Why NOT to enroll for BMC:-
This is a course… does it sound to you like PICNIC… if yes, then think again….
Warning: There has been a craze among people in India to do mountaineering… All thanks to the movie “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani”…..This course is a hard core mountaineering course, where skills to survive in the mountains are taught. Mountain life is out-of-your comfort zone, harsh & dangerous!! So the blog writer will not accept responsibility for your decision, damage or losses.
What you should do at the institute:
- Maintain a low profile
- Don’t try to show-off your stamina
- Mountaineering is a team sport. Help, support, and encourage others in your rope/team.Remember: You win, only when your team wins!
- If you’re experienced in the outdoors, help and support fellow students
What NOT to expect at the institute:-
- Low student-to-instructor ratio
- Latest, lightweight mountaineering equipment & gear
- Multi Cuisine Food
- Wearing Shorts, sandals, and flip flops/slippers .
What to expect from the institute
- Moderately high safety standards
- Some breathtaking scenery
- Army style training, punishments
- Cosmopolitan assembly of students, from all over India & a few foreigners
For the first timers this is going to be like HELL, though you might be surrounded by beautiful landscapes yet you have to undergo a lot of suffering and pain to see such beauty.
For experienced “ active in outdoor activities” this course might be a bit easier however the pain and suffering still exists. In other words a lot of preparation needs to be done before attending this course…
Aspects of Preparation:- 1. Mental Preparation 2. Physical Preparation
Mental Preparation –
- Be aware of your surroundings and situations at all times.
- There has to be perfect balance between Mind & Heart.
- Will Power, Determination and Patience… these are the 3 words used to best describe your preparedness.
“The mind is a very powerful thing. If you can train your mind to keep going even when your body wants to quit, you can achieve some incredible things.”
A Few Facts about Mountains –
1. Less Oxygen Molecules in air, so large effort is required to breathe.
2. Drink lots of water (1 glass / hour) even at Cold or freezing temperatures (drink warm water)
3. Eat a lot of whatever is provided,…. NOT Hungry = 1st degree / symptom of Mountain Sickness
4. Blood Pressure Increase….. try to maintain your cool at all times
Physical Preparation –
“In Rome do as Romans do”…
“Don’t be a Gamma in the Land of Lama”
Since moving in the mountains is not an easy task, you need to be well prepared.
The simplest mistake is by not knowing the weather & climate of a place before your visit.
“You cannot reach the finish line unless you start.”
Fitness plays a key role in achieving the grades in a mountaineering course. It is important for you to enjoy the scenery, rather than experiencing the adverse effects of low fitness. So be well prepared before attending the course.
- Start slow and gradually build up to longer distances in the same amount of time. If you start too fast you will injure yourself in the first few weeks of training and you will need to take time off to recover. This will delay your progress by a month or more and will ultimately reduce your final fitness rather than enhance it.
- Eat well – dieticians recommend that we eat five helpings of vegetables, salad or fruit every day and plenty of complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, beans, peas and lentils.
- When training, eat little and often (e.g. nuts, fruit) and drink small amounts of water at frequent intervals, even before you’re thirsty. Don’t make the mistake of not drinking in order to avoid having to go to the loo! Please note alcohol is a diuretic which means it actually dehydrates you which is completely the opposite of what you are trying to achieve – sorry!
- Ensure your shoes or boots fit well and wear socks to prevent blisters. Start training now in the footwear that you will be wearing when you take part in your event to ensure they are well worn in! (avoid cuts & bruises of the new shoes)
Fitness programs are divided into 3 categories – Stretch, Training & Relax.
Before you start doing anything please observe this cardinal rule: You should only stretch warmed up muscles – so before you do any of these stretches please do a light warm-up first. Don’t stretch too far, all you should feel is a slow pull, never any pain. Never bounce, always stretch slowly. People with old injuries or bad backs should be especially careful whilst exercising and stretching.
Rule #1 – warm up, stretch, training, warm down, stretch
Before doing any exercise you should stretch – and that before doing any stretching you should do a light warm-up. You should NEVER stretch cold muscles and you should NEVER run without warming up and stretching. If you are short for time and eager to get out on the road just consider how much lost time an injury is going to cost you! Not only will you have to wait weeks to recover from the injury you will have gone backwards during this time due to not being able to train.
Additionally, after your run if you stop running abruptly waste products will build up in your muscles leading to stiffness and discomfort. So after your run you should warm down (with a light jog) and stretch once more. This simple ‘boring’ advice will keep you on the road and training towards your goals and reward you with a much more pleasant and injury-free training experience. The Basic Stretch Program & the Exercise Circuit are mentioned further below.
“Even if you fall, even if you cannot finish today, you can and should pick yourself up and try again tomorrow.”
Trek – Walk on uneven surfaces / paths. So lets know more information about walking…..
- It strengthens your heart, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- It improves circulation, breathing and endocrine functions.
- It tones muscles and strengthens bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
- It reduces blood fat and cholesterol.
- It burns calories and helps you manage your weight.
- It boosts mental performance and improves psychological well-being.
- It enables you to solve problems, manage stress and reduce anxiety.
Walking Techniques – ways to avoid injury and discomfort
- Touch the ground heel first, roll forward through the arch, over the ball of your foot to your toes, which push off to start another step. This reduces the risk of shin splints and tendon pulls.
- Walk with your head up and eyes focused ahead.
- Keep your shoulders level, pulled back and down, lift your chest.
- Contract your abdominal muscles, pressing them towards your spine.
- Carry your arms at 90° angles and pump them forward and back, rather than side to side.
- The faster you move, the better your cardiovascular workout. But try to keep an even stride and maintain a steady pace.
To walk faster….
- Accelerate your arm movements.
- Take smaller, quicker steps.
- To prevent lower back pain avoid leaning forward and arching your back.
Even if you walk regularly and have a good level of fitness, you will still need to train for this type of long-distance walking, though you may find that it will not take you as long to reach the stages outlined below. If you do not walk often and have only a basic level of fitness you should allow more than the 16 weeks outlined.
“If winning is your objective, realize that you have to work 10 times harder than the next best person.”
Shoes – Choose a comfortable pair of walking shoes designed for the specific activity of walking. It should have a reasonably high ankle and a stiff heel counter to give lateral support. The midsole should be firm yet comfortable. It is worth investing in a good pair of trekking or hiking boots, and appropriate socks. New boots must be worn in. Wear them around the house, on the way to work, etc, and then on longer trips. Once they have conformed to the shape of your feet there is less likelihood of getting blisters.
Feet first!! There are some common foot problems which are very easy to treat and avoid:
- To avoid blisters keep your feet dry and wear socks made with fibers which draw moisture away from your skin – steer clear of pure cotton. Don’t lace your shoes too tightly or too loosely. The irritation from the pinching and rubbing may cause blisters.
- Aching arches are usually caused by pounding when you walk. Make sure you touch the ground with your heel first and pushing off with your toe. Arch supports may help.
- Blackened toenails are caused by the big toe hitting the front of your shoe. Keep your toenails neatly trimmed. Make sure that if one of your feet is slightly larger than the other, as most are, that your boots fit the larger one.
Fitting training into your busy life – There are plenty of ways to ensure that you maximize your training, even if you feel you have no time due to work.
- You must organize your week to make time to get out to do some training.
- Get up an hour earlier and go out for a quick walk with some stretching in the morning before work while it is still light.
- If you can walk to work, do so. If you get to work by public transport, get off a stop or two earlier than usual, so that you walk some distance each day. If you drive, park further away than usual, or walk a longer route to work.
- Use your lunchtimes to take regular brisk walks around your work area, not just a stroll around the shops.
- Find a steep set of stairs i.e. five floors of a department store/office block and climb them five times, at least three times per week.
- Swimming, squash, badminton, cycling, sport climbing and any other sport will also help get you prepared.
- Joining a leisure center is a good idea as the local fitness instructors may well be able to design a program specifically for you. Most good gyms have a walking machine, or even better a stair climber, where you can clock up mileage more safely and comfortably, but do try to walk as much as possible in ‘real’ conditions and wearing your rucksack and boots.
- It is important at weekends to get into some hilly areas to experience walking on different surfaces, get used to the hills and of course the weather. You should wear the boots and rucksack you will take on the trek.
- You should make the time to walk some consecutive long days: an isolated Sunday walk does not have the same effect as two consecutive days. Nothing will prepare you for the trek better than actually walking. Even if you’re only doing an hour around the park or streets put your rucksack and boots on, you may look silly but it’s worth it.
You may not stick to the training schedule exactly but you need to keep it in mind and to do regular exercise every week. You will enjoy the challenges far more if you are physically fit.
“Learn the difference between physically being unable to continue and giving up.”
- If you are feeling tired or injured you should NOT push ahead with the your training program regardless.
- Remember that rest is the most important ‘training’ you can do and over-training can lead to serious injuries. If you only miss a few days training you should be able to pick up the training plan with no negative benefits. If you miss 2 weeks or more you will have to revise your training program and probably revise your goal in terms of how fast you are expecting to run your race
“Sometimes you need a day off, a day off from everything.”
- Always do a light warm up before you stretch – and stretch before you run
- Always warm down and stretch after your run to prevent stiffness and muscle discomfort
- Take rest days to give your body time to adapt to the increased training load
- Alternate hard and easy training days and weeks to allow for recovery time
- Keep it varied to maintain your interest and to gain varied training benefits
- Use the steady-state run to build up mental and physical endurance
- Use the recovery day(REST DAY) once a week to build up to your target mileage.
Please note the following:
- If you want to increase your strength then do less circuits but with more weight/resistance on each exercise
- If you want to increase your endurance then increase the number of circuits you do and do not use weights at all
- If at any time during any of the exercises you feel faint or dizzy you should stop immediately and seek medical advice.
Best Energy Foods – Carbohydrates are the primary human energy fuels, generating the glucose that makes work and play possible. With a bit of protein to sustain your endurance and some vitamins and minerals to battle inflammation, minimally processed carbs, which raise your blood sugar slowly and moderately, are the star players in a diet for active people. Sugary foods (candy, cookies, soda, fruit drinks), elevate your energy level briefly but then drop you to new lows as your body attempts to balance its sugar-fired insulin level. High-fat foods slow down digestion and thereby delay access to energy.
Lentil Soup (Toor or Black Gram or Masoor Dal) – To a healthy carbohydrate load, lentils add heaps of fiber and don’t cause gas. Kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas are also good legume choices and are a great source of cardiovascular-friendly folic acid.
Oranges – Natural sugars, carbohydrates, vitamin C and fiber combine to make oranges both quick and sustaining in their benefit to your energy level and cardiovascular system. Apples are another heart-healthy and cholesterol-lowering fruit, and figs are extremely rich in vitamins.
Blueberries – Like other fruits and vegetables, blueberries release sugar into your blood slowly and have high fiber content, lowering your cholesterol level and the risk of digestive problems. That same little blueberry contains cancer-preventing antioxidants as well as properties that slow cognitive decline associated with age.
Nuts and Seeds – The energy-boosting carbohydrate and protein loads in nuts and seeds are complemented by hefty amounts of vitamins, amino acids, monounsaturated fats and fiber. The large quantities of fat in nuts and seeds suggest they should be eaten in moderation.
Fish – The omega-3 fatty acids in fish increase your energy level by accelerating the flow of blood that distributes oxygen throughout your body. Cook your fish in olive oil to add an anti-inflammatory benefit.
Sweet Potatoes are the fountain-of-youth entry among energy-giving foods, as the vitamin A-fixing properties of the antioxidant beta-carotene are thought to slow the aging process. Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Rice Bran is packed with carbohydrates, fiber and antioxidants. It also contains minerals that assist in energy during exercise. Use it in equal parts with flour for baking; add it to casseroles or shake a bit of it on cereal.
Low-fat Yogurt (Curd) – Yogurt’s glycogen-replenishing capability and vitamin B12 provide energy; help prevent fatigue and aid in muscle recovery after exercise.
Rolled Oats – Another great glucose stabilizer, rolled oats also aid in digestion, and they contain energy-making vitamin B and immune-strengthening zinc.
Flattened rice (also called beaten rice) is a de-husked rice which is flattened into flat light dry flakes. These flakes of rice swell when added to liquid, whether hot or cold, as they absorb water, milk or any other liquids. The thicknesses of these flakes vary between almost translucently thin (the more expensive varieties) to nearly four times thicker than a normal rice grain.
Whole-wheat (Pasta or Chapathi) – The health perks provided by whole wheat reach far beyond energy production; its high fiber and antioxidant levels reduce the chance of heart disease and diabetes. Compared with other pastas, the whole wheat variety is lower in calories and higher in fiber.
Things to Bring:
- Woolen socks – 3 pairs
- Cotton socks – 2 pairs
- Monkey Cap (woolen) – 1
- Sunscreen – PHOTOBAN (SPF 30 – use till tree line) – 1 & MELAGARD (SPF 50 – use from snow line) – 2
- Vaseline lip balm – 1
- T Shirts – 4 to 6.
- Underpants – 3 to 4 & Sports bra for women
- Track suits – 2 to 3
- Plastic Covers – 2 to 4 big size (each for wet, dry, used & unused clothes)
- Foot Powder – ABSORB – 1 (with blue cap)
- Track T Shirt (with zip) – 1 (used while running)
- Deodorant – 1
- Woolen gloves – 2 pairs
- Snow / Waterproof Gloves – 2 pairs
- Glucon D – 1 kg (pack in 2 half kg bottles) or Electral Powder – 30 packets
- Trek shoes / Goldstar Shoes – 1pair (if your shoe size is 7 then buy 8)
- Sunglasses (Polarized & UVA, UVB) – 1
- Poncho (barsati) – 1 (raincoat for u & rucksack while trekking in case of rain)
- Mosquito Repellent ODOMOS – 1 (big)
- Lock & Key – 2 pairs
- Toilet Paper -2 rolls.
- Wet Wipes – 2 packs (Big) – to wipe your complete body (no bath for a minimum 15 days)
- Toiletries & Nail Clippers
- Camera with sets of Extra Spare Batteries (Duracell / Energiser) & SD Cards
- Electricity converters for charging as India uses 220 volt system.
- Herbal Body Moisturizer (Himalaya / Boro Plus)
- Spike Guard (optional)
Eyesight – People with eye sight check Eye Kit (Need Prescription Tab in the left side)
- Dress in layers.
- Drinks plenty of water.
- Practice basic knots – Thumb Knot, Fig of 8, Double Fig of 8, Reef Knot, Bowline, Prussik Knot, Clove Hitch, Running Clove Hitch. The rest are taught at the institute.
- Basic knowledge of High Altitude Acclimatization (Will be updated in my post soon)
- The rest of the necessary equipment is issued at the institute.
It is not always about winning, its just a thought to complete the course without giving up.
Basic Stretch Program
1 – Calves: Stand approximately 1 metre away from wall with your left leg straight and your left heel flat on the floor. Lean forward and slowly push your hips towards the wall. Should feel a slow pull in your left calf muscle. Hold this for 10 seconds, swap legs, and then repeat 3 times. You should feel a gentle pull but no pain.
2 – Hamstrings: Stand with feet 1 metre apart. With legs straight and hands behind your back slowly bend forward at the hips keeping your back straight and your head up. You should feel a slow pull in the muscles at the back of your legs. Hold for 10 seconds, stand up and lean slightly backwards to relieve any tightness in your back. Repeat this 3 times. You should feel a gentle pull but no pain.
3 – Quads: Standing with your feet together, bring your left foot up and put your left hand on your lower left shin by the ankle – and pull your left leg up behind your bottom. Keep your back straight, you head up and keep your other leg slightly bent. You may need to balance with your right hand on a wall. You should feel a gentle pull down the front of your left leg. Hold for 10 seconds, swap legs, and repeat 3 times. As always you should feel a gentle pull but no pain.
4 – Groin: Stand with your feet 1 metre apart and with both feet pointing forward. Keeping your back straight and your head up, step forward with your right leg and slowly lower your left hip towards the floor. You should feel a gradual pull on the inside of your left leg. Hold for 10 seconds, swap legs, and repeat 3 times. You should feel a gentle pull but no pain.
5 – Hips: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and with your hands on your hips. Keeping your head still, rotate your hips clockwise 10 times and anti clockwise 10 times. Repeat three times.
6 – Torso: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and with your hands on your head. Keep your feet pointing forward but twist your body to the left as far as is comfortable, hold for 1 second and face forward. Then twist your body to the right as far as is comfortable, hold for 1 second and face forward. Repeat 10 times.
7 – Shoulders: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Start with your hands by your hips and keeping your arms straight slowly swing your arms round backwards 10 times. Then change direction and swing your arms forwards 10 times. Repeat 3 times.
8 – Standing stretch: Stand with your feet together. Place your hands together and reach as high as you can, hold for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat 3 times.
Exercise Circuit – These exercises are designed to strengthen specific muscle groups. It is important to just use your own body weight in the early weeks. In the latter weeks, small weights can be added to the ankles or you can put on your rucksack to help build extra strength. The idea of the circuit is to complete each exercise then move onto the next.
Once all exercises are completed, (i.e. one circuit), you then go round the circuit again 3, 4, or 5 times. You can also increase the number of repetitions for each exercise from 20 to 30, 40 or 50 depending on how strong you’re feeling. It is essential you stretch before and after the session to keep your muscles loose and long, not tight and short.
1 – Calf Raises: Stand with your feet together, about an arm’s length away from a wall. Your fingers should just be touching the wall for balance. Raise yourself slowly onto tip toes and then slowly lower. Repeat 20 times.
2 – Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your hands on your hips. Keeping your back straight and your head up slowly lower yourself so your knees are bent 90 degrees. Then stand up so your knees are almost (but not quite) locked straight. Repeat 20 times.
3 – Step ups: Using the bottom step of a staircase or low bench, start with your left foot on the step and your right foot on floor. Stand up straight on your left leg and bring your right foot up to next step above and then lower your right back down to floor. Repeat 20 times. Change to having your right leg on the step and repeat.
4 – Leg extensions: Sit on a high sofa/bed/bench with the backs of your knees just on the edge and your feet hanging down. Lean back with your hands behind your head for support. Keeping the backs of your knees on the surface, slowly lift your left foot up so your leg becomes straight and then lower it down again. Repeat 20 times. Change to your right leg and repeat.
5 – Leg Raises: Lie front down on a mat or soft floor with your hands under your chin. Keeping your left leg straight slowly raise it six inches off the floor and then slowly lower it again. Repeat 20 times. Change to your right leg and repeat.