Mountaineering expedition has changed its meaning, scope and objective over many decades starting from the idea of reaching the highest summits in remote mountain ranges to being a recreational sport today. Mountaineering expedition today is a social high altitude trekking activity with the goal to summit a Himalayan peak as a result. Still today like in early days mountaineering expedition requires a high fitness level, determination, ability to cope with weeks of isolation and psychological ability to collaborate with a small group of people over 4-6 weeks.
Many expedition climbs are not highly technical but operating on high altitude increases the level of difficulty and even non-technical aspects at sea level turn in to the complex, difficult and potentially dangerous or even life-threatening at high elevations. Therefore technical abilities or pre-expedition training is an essential part of safety and success with essential skills to use climbing equipment such as ropes, ice axes, and crampons. Even guided clients must have a minimum knowledge, experience, and awareness of basic rock climbing, scrambling steep snow and rock, protection techniques, crevasse rescue and being able to recognize a danger of potentially unstable snow conditions, avalanche, physiological symptoms of dehydration, altitude sickness, cold and hypothermia and fast-changing weather conditions.
Mountaineering training is continuous and never-ending process; it is a way of life and requires constant practice, and mountaineering instincts have to become second nature. A small mistake or lapse of concentration can be deadly. The reward, however, is a breathtaking view and an unforgettable feeling of life achievement of standing on the top of the summit. Mountaineering in the Alps, Andes, or the Canadian Rockies can be technically very challenging but adding another dimension of very high altitude in the Himalayas over 8000m or even above 7000m multiplies the level of technical difficulty even in case of a simple high elevation summit, which wouldn’t be classified as a difficult hike at low elevations. The mountaineering effort level ranges from introductory feasible for fit athletes with little prior experience to extremely challenging routes requiring the highest levels of mountain climbing skills, technical rock climbing skills and logistics and personal proficiencies.
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