I talked to 12 Everesters and discovered a common trend. They will hate me for sharing this but the truth needs to be told.
🏔 Visualisation exercise - for months before they step on the mountain, they visualise how long and difficult each section of the route would look like. Then they feed their mind how to react in unforeseen situations. Think of it as writing the script for a movie. Once they are actually on the expedition, the mind has already been prepped about what to expect, even the unforeseen situations.
The more detailed the visualisation the better. Imagine the weights of boots weighing you down, the long summit walk in darkness, the cold wind blowing and piercing your face. Talk to yourself in your imagination. Listen carefully to what you are telling yourself.
The body will do incredible feat if the mind is in your control.
This visualisation practice works wonders when you do it just before hitting the bed at night and when you wake up in the morning.
🏔🏔 Friendship with suffering - let's face it, our bodies are not meant to survive high altitudes. If you were dropped on top of Mt. Everest using a chopper, you will die in less than 4 minutes.
At the same time, the human body can be conditioned to a lot more than you think. This requires putting it through pain, sacrifice and torture. If you suffer in training, you survive in the mountains.
Want to reach the top of the world? Build a really high level of pain threshold. A stoic approach to life - taking things as they really are helps in building the suffering muscle.
However, we suffer more in imagination than in reality. Stoics philosophers were wise and they believed this and I do too. Every step looks very difficult and challenging from the outside. It is, I'm not discounting the level of difficulty. What I'm suggesting is that we tend to undermine what our bodies are capable off. We should let them reach the point of failure. That point is always much much further than you think.
🏔🏔🏔 Sport specific training - mountaineers don't train like runners, cyclists or swimmers. They train for mountaineering. I'm sure you are thinking - 'well that's pretty obvious!'
It isn't. More often than not, you find elite athletes in another endurance sport think that they can replicate their training and go climb a 7000 m or a 8000 m peak. Trouble!
Elite mountaineers train to prepare for what they will face on the mountains.
They will walk for 4 - 6 hours in the middle of the night, with a 15 kg backpack to train for sleep deprivation. This is to replicate summit push night. They do cardio workout with a mask to make their lungs work harder to inhale and replicate the low pressure created by high altitude. They exercise while fasting for long periods, again to train the mind and body for what's about to come.
The more you build and replicate the environment and challenges you will be facing in the mountains, the better you will perform.
Real Life Application
These secrets don't just help you in the mountains but can be used at your workplace also. If you want to enhance your career -
Visualise the path
Understand it will be challenging
Keep adding role specific skills
One can learn so much from being in the mountains