Shree Sadasivan: Himalayan Trekking (10 years)
Being fit, what is the meaning of it? It means that you can do all that you want with ease when your body is not a problem, when it doesn’t complain, and when you actually forget that you have a physical body.
The Himalayas have always fascinated me. Right from a very young age, I have been attracted to the hills and trees of my backyard. Climbing a hill and just simply sitting there seems to give me more insight into everything around me than ‘doing’ anything else.
Many years ago, I took a bunch of people with me to Gokarna and heard of this beautiful trek from Aum beach to Paradise beach. This is about a 30-35 min trek where the ocean accompanies you all the time to your right. We were all in our early 20s. To my surprise, the guys that accompanied me on this small trek started complaining about heavy legs and experiencing difficulty breathing. By the time we finished the trek, it was over 2 hours and no one except me who was trying to keep pace with them really enjoyed the feat and were glad that it was over!
How can you miss something so beautiful over fitness issues! That really is a tragedy.
As the majestic Himalayas was my ultimate destination to experience trekking at its grandeur, I started watching videos of people who are hard mountaineers, how they get themselves physically fit for the low levels of oxygen in the high altitudes, and making it not an exhausting but an exhilarating experience.
For you to climb, you need to work on your legs, lungs, and back. So instead of hitting the gym, I started running every day for 3 km initially then increased it to 5 km after a week. This would give my legs a lot of strength to continuously tread on the hilly and steep terrain, give my lungs good capacity to breathe enough oxygen, and my back to hold my 20-kg rucksack.
Once you get to the altitude of 10,000 feet, it becomes difficult for you to breathe as the oxygen levels will start to deplete and you can feel the air becoming thinner. Even those who you think are the fittest of the group can struggle as even smallest and the simplest of tasks feel very tiring.
The most important thing to remember at high altitudes is not to overexert yourself. Especially if you are not fit, you tend to overexert yourself which causes dehydration leading to acute mountain sickness. For this, you need to be properly acclimatized and not climb too soon. Drinking water at regular intervals is a must, even though you won’t feel like due to cold weather. This helps you feel energized, focused, and balanced for the rest of the day without being prone to altitude sickness.
My first initial trek was a rather small one, a 3-day hike to Beaskund which is a little ahead of Manali. This trek was at an altitude of 12,139 feet with you starting at 6,500 feet. I could do it relatively with ease due to my regular training for the mountains.
After that, I started seeking out bigger challenges in mountaineering. I made sure I visit the Himalayas every year and have been doing so for the last 10 years. I have had the pleasure of trekking the most beautiful terrains and being in the harshest of climates.
It is my wish and hope that everyone gets an opportunity to visit the Himalayas when they are fit and before they are too weak. So, before you prepare for any trek, small or big, make sure you follow this schedule in the given order, at least once a day, to really experience the trek in the most joyful way:
Jogging: 4-5 km every day for 90 days
Suryanamaskar: 10 cycles (Both the left and right side completes 1 cycle)
Kapalabhati or Breath of fire: 50*3 cycles
Once your body is made in such a way that it is at ease wherever you are, whatever condition you are in, staying in subzero temperatures without having a wink of sleep or a morsel of food for 2 days, then you can say you are fit. I credit my fitness to running, yoga, and playing football.
Remember, use it or you will lose it! If you had lived 200 years ago, you would be doing at least 20 times more physical activity than what you are doing right now. In terms of physical activity, a 20-year-old would not be able to do what a 60-year-old was doing 100 years ago. That means we are just weakening the human race. You can keep this body well only by using it. The more you use it the better it gets.
Your body is an amazing tool for you to experience things beyond your imagination, and you need to keep that tool at its peak performance. Be fit, be ultimate, be at your peak, and let us conquer the Himalayas!!!
During our trek last year in the Himalayas, I realized how important fitness is. Not to complete the trek, but to truly enjoy the trek. You do not want to lose out on enjoying the scenic beauties to stopping frequently to catch up on the breath. I wanted to introduce you to Shree whom I know has taken trekking to his heart and made mountains his good friends.
Shree is an avid trekker and has been doing this for more than 10 years. He makes sure to take few days off to do at least one Himalayan trek every year. Owing to this utmost passion towards the mountains he is fondly called as the ‘Mountain Boy’ by his colleagues at work. Hope his story and few insights he shared into preparing for a good trek were interesting to you.
If you have any questions for Shree please leave a comment and he will get back to you.