If you have been on the fence about going for a trek, don't postpone it. Your work, family, finances are not going anywhere. But you should.
Here's a list of things I recommend you do before going on your next adventure. #4 is my favourite mantra.
#1 Embrace reality
Don't get carried away with what someone else did and posted on Instagram. You don't know their journey. Do a self audit of your fitness levels and experience. If you have never been on a trek and plan to go on one in the next 2-3 months, a 6000 m peak like Kang Yatse II isn't ideal for you.
At the same time, if you are an active individual that plays other sports and has more endurance than an average person, you don't want to settle for an easy trek either.
You can make meaningful progress when you start from the truth. Think about trekking and mountaineering as a ladder. If you try to skip rungs, you might fall.
Finding the right trek takes research and reaching out to active trekkers.
#2 Talk to others who have done it
Reach out to as many people as possible who have experienced the trek you plan to do. Most trek operator website copies reads exactly alike. They haven't updated their content in years. The information you will get from trekkers will be more helpful than any brochure.
Once you get connected with a trekker, be respectful of their time. Tell them that you have done your research and need help with few burning questions. Don't ask for 'tell me your entire experience'.
It's not that difficult to find someone who has done the same trek as you. I would start by posting it on social media that I'm going to place 'X' and ask to be connected with others who been to 'X'. If I have a trek operator already finalised, I will reach out to them and ask them to connect me to their clients who have been to 'X'.
Baat karne se hi baat banegi, boss...
#3 Start a trek fund
You know it, I know it, going to the mountains isn't cheap. On average a 7 days trek to the Himalayas will set you back 75k including flight tickets. Maybe more.
Once you start doing 6000m peaks, you will be shelling twice that amount. More if you are heading to destinations outside India.
I don't like to burden myself a month before with where the money will come from. Instead, I come up with a monthly amount I can set aside. Like an SIP.
Calculate your costs that should include trek operator fees, sherpa tip, flights, hotel, sightseeing, new gear, shopping. Then divide this by the number of months you have left to go. That's your monthly amount of trek fund SIP.
Make money. Save money. Spend money on adventures. Repeat.
#4 Train for the summit
There's a difference between training for a trek and training for the summit. You can run, swim, cycle, climb stairs to prepare for your trek but if you want to reach the top you need to train your mind. Your mind needs to be your bitch, not the other way around.
Be honest with yourself. That's a good starting point. If you tend to quit when things get hard, when the challenge ahead looks too daunting, you need to fix it. Courage will not magically appear on the mountains. It will come if you start training your mind now.
How? By deleting words and statements from your vocabulary.'I will try to reach', 'let's see how far I can go', 'i just want to enjoy the climb as far as my legs take me'. NO!
Stop talking to yourself in ifs and buts. Fucking convince yourself first that you WILL DO IT. Rest everything will take care of itself.
My crampon came off 5 times while hanging from ropes on the ice wall in Island Peak. I had a very good excuse to give up. Yet, everytime it came off I looked up to my leader and told him 'Don't you even suggest I should give up. I will not go back until I reach the summit.'
He believed me. First, I had to believe me.
It's hard to beat someone who doesn't plan on giving up. Be that person.
#5 Interview trek operators
How many guides / sherpas will accompany us on the trail?
What kind of training does the guides have?
Has the guide done this trek before?
Do you have communication devices to use in high altitude?
Do you provide insurance? What's covered and what's not?
What is a typical breakfast, lunch, dinner menu?
What's in your first aid box?
Decide on a trek operator keeping your safety as the number one preference. With these questions you are trying to check if your safety is their number one preference or not.
Do these 5 things to make sure that you are locked in on the actual challenge - the trek.