November 15, 2011
In the spirit of last week’s “From A Guide’s Perspective” features, longtime friend of IMG, Viki Tracey, took a few minutes to give us a few pointers from her point of view.
‘5½ Tips’ From An Atypical Mountaineer
By Viki Tracey
I like to think that I am a somewhat atypical mountaineer. Not really naturally blessed with good balance, a strong head for heights or even much in the way of coordination, I am, frankly, a Guides’ nightmare. However, not one to let physiology hold me back, 5½ years ago I decided I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro. At the time, I weighed about 215lbs (I am 5’6”) and getting out of a car was about the most challenging part of my ‘exercise regimen’. Undaunted, I lost weight, did some exercise and summitted Kili. And, in so doing, found a passion for the mountains and for climbing that has brought a better ‘balance’, good health and some wonderful friends into my life.
I am by no means an expert, but in recognition of those 5½ years, here are my 5½ tips for having fun in the mountains…
- Take the step. If you’re like me, you may be nervous about getting started or committing to that next step up. Use your resources and pick up the phone… the crew at IMG have never led me wrong, and I think I am coming up on trip number 9.
- Train smart, be practical. It’s no surprise that the more you train, the more fun (and safe) your climb will be. But just because you don’t live in the mountains, doesn’t mean you can’t be ready. I dragged an SUV tyre [read tire - Viki is from London] around Houston and carried a weighted pack around London to get ready for Denali and Bolivia. In my experience, optimizing power to weight ratio, core strength and endurance training is the key to success. If you can get into the hills to train, that’s great, but if you can’t, you can still come well prepared.
- Self reliance. All of my trips have been guided (most with IMG). It’s impossible to overstate how wonderful the Guides are and how well they will take care of you. However, I care a lot about taking personal responsibility for being a strong part of the team. For me, this means being able to keep my wits about me even when exhausted: eat, drink and put on warm clothes at every break. I actually ‘train’ for this by doing mental arithmetic when I am walking or at the gym (did I mention I am a little odd?!).
- Keep it light. Less stuff equals less work. I plan ahead and buy the lightest stuff that I can. 30 minutes on the internet nerding out about a piece of climbing kit is a great de-stresser (for me) after far too many hours in the office. Follow the IMG gear lists. You don’t need more.
- Look up! Remember to make time at the breaks to look around, take in that exquisite view and snap a photo to share with your new found climbing pals and the gang back at home.
5 ½. One for the gals. Pee funnel. Get to grips with it. Mastering this means a lot less time spent evaluating your need to go against the (internationally recognised?) cold arse to desperation rating scale… and, in all seriousness, in my case, means I stay better hydrated (I drink more liquid because I am not so worried about holding up the group).
I hope our paths will cross in the mountains one day. Happy climbing!