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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

Climbing Mount Everest

High altitude climbing is an extreme, high risk, endurance sport, which gained popularity after Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norguay first reached the summit in 1953. Every year groups of climbers from around the world attempt to replicate their heroes, to climb the highest mountain in the world standing at 8848m.  A climb to the top takes on average two months to complete, taking into account periods for rest and acclimatisation. Just to reach base camp takes a week of trekking through the mountains. After setting up camp at the base of the mountain, the climbers will go thorough four more camps before trying to reach the summit. Due to the dramatic change in altitude after reaching a camp (one, two, and three), the climbers will return to the previous one for a couple of days, to allow their bodies to properly adjust. Reaching each camp is no guarantee that the climb will continue, each stage is reliant on the weather, which can and does change regularly, forcing climbers to bail. If they are successful in reaching camp 4, the climbers still have to wait for a window of opportunity, to make the final ascent to the summit. Because of this, many climbers fail to reach the summit, in reality it is only a small percentage that succeed. Reasons for failure include death, high altitude sickness, loss of will, injury, fatigue as well as extreme weather conditions. Its not uncommon for over 300 climbers to die in a year in the pursuit of this dangerous test of skill and courage. High altitude, which becomes present from 5485m and above, is known to sap the energy from climbers, both physically and mentally. It leaves them feeling weak, breathless, fatigued and intimidated with a loss of focus or will to go on. Each day they can be exposed to extreme weather conditions with reduced visibility and the risk of avalanches - none of which they can control.  The mental strategies required to stay alive and successfully complete the challenge are key to their success. Various strategies are used whilst ascending the mountain, many of which which we can take and adapt to help us through Covid19 to help us retain focus. Here are a few for you to consider;

  • setting short-term goals - so rather than looking to the summit as the goal, they would break it down to what can be achieved in the next hour/leg. Set yourself a goal each day, or a goal for the morning and one for the afternoon. One could be for personal development, one for health/fitness

  • connecting with their body - for example they might focus on their breathing to conserve energy. Try meditation or mindfulness for just 10 minutes, connect with how your body feels, it has numerous benefits. If you don't fancy that try yoga, stretching or Tai Chi. 

  • feeling support from other climbers' - they will communicate with other climbers in their group to improve their mood. Its good to talk, a problem shared is problem halved. Give your family or friends a call check in with them, use video calls or FaceTime, make it fun. I've seen families playing virtual board games this way, be inventive try something different you may find you enjoy it!

  • drawing on past experience, or belief in personal capacities to overcome obstacles. Think about previous times you have faced challenges and take comfort from the knowledge that you successfully overcame them. What doesn't break you, makes you stronger!

Hopefully you found the insights in this blog interesting. Increasing our understanding of how mental strategies can help us achieve, during difficult times to overcome obstacles, is what we are all about If you would like help through this difficult time or wish to learn more about mental toughness please visit our website and get in touch. Drop me an email and let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Visit our website and check out our other blogs, there's something in there for everyone.


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