What does it take to climb Everest?

21 October 2017 / By Kuntal A. Joisher

I still remember that evening from a few years ago very distinctly. All of us climbers were hanging out in the dining tent. One of the climbers quipped - "Kuntal, you are not fit enough to climb this mountain". I ignored it, however internally I was pissed that someone criticized my fitness. I couldn't climb the mountain, heck I went home mid way through the expedition. My physical fitness was lacking, but the bigger thing was lack of strong mental will power.

Fast forward a year, and I wrote a message to a very popular Indian mountaineering guide. I asked him whether he could help us put together an expedition to a certain peak. He asked me various questions about my experience, skills, training, fitness. I responded. And then he wrote to me something like - "Kuntal, you need to build more experience, and gain more skills and then comeback and we'll talk". At that moment I ignored the advice, and moved on. I went on and did the expedition on my own, and even though I had improved from last time around, I still failed.

Both these instances led me to take a step back, let go of my ego, and accept that I wasn't there yet. And that I had been trying to take shortcuts to the top. It also led me to train harder, build skills, gain experience and become a strong and reliable mountaineer and finally ready to ascend Everest. I'll be eternally grateful to both the above gentlemen for bluntly telling me where I stood. I think in the world of mountaineering mentor-ship this is very much required.

A few days ago someone wrote to me saying that they would like to climb Everest in 2018. And I asked - "What's your experience?". And this person wrote - "No experience yet. I'll do my Basic and Advanced courses in next few months and maybe climb Stok Kangri, and I'll go for Everest". I responded - "In my humble opinion you should reconsider. You are not ready, and if I were you I would put at least a 3 year plan in place. Build solid experience, gain skills and get physically and mentally superfit before signing up for a climb".

It's a combination of lots of quality experience, enormous amounts of training, and last but surely not the least solid technical skills that's going to help you ascend Everest safely. If you are lacking in any one of the above, PLEASE reconsider your decision to climb Everest!

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