top of page

Himalayan Climbing - Your First 6000M Peak

Updated: Apr 26

Island Peak Base camp - The Himalayas are unlike any other mountain range. Partly due to the size and vastness of the terrain. Himalayan climbing is often seen as the most dangerous and committing as safety and support are often a long way away.

Island Peak base camp in Nepal
Island Peak in Nepal

Looking up at Island peak from base camp.

How hard is it to climb a 6000m Himalayan peak? Some of the more popular 6000m peaks in the Himalayas are often referred to as trekking peaks. They are usually only up to 500m above this height because anything closer to 7000m is much harder and less likely to be classed as trekking. They are also less technical but can require crossing glaciers and steep sections of Scottish grade 1-2 climbing. Although trekking peaks, they require respect and a good amount of mountain endurance even though the daily distance you cover is usually kept under 1000m ascent. This is due to altitude and how fast the body can acclimatise. Ascend too much in one day and you could become very ill with altitude sickness - HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) or HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) If it wasn’t for the altitude then trekking to this height would be achievable for most people; however the majority of unsuccessful summits is due to trying to acclimatise too quickly. By getting fitter and having a better cardiovascular system you can improve your body’s ability to recover from exercise. Being fitter also means the exercise is easier so you don’t waste precious energy reserves lower down on the mountain.

Lobuche in Nepal.

Physical Conditioning for Mountaineering Expeditions Being comfortable with walking 800 -1000 meters of ascent for 4-5 days back to back is a guideline. This is the equivalent of walking up and down Snowdon for 5 days straight. It would also be recommended to get some longer days in such as the Welsh 3000s or Yorkshire three peaks. This also includes carrying a small rucksack and wearing large mountain boots.

Physical conditioning for expeditions can be a daunting process but like any activity it can be trained and prepared for. When designing training plans we include a big proportion of cardiovascular and endurance training; Big mountains often require long days walking and climbing. Endurance training can be improved with running, cycling swimming and resistance training to name a few.

Strength training is also a great way of improving fitness. It is also time effective if having to train around work and family and has high benefits of helping to prevent injuries and increasing performance.

How often should I train? This depends on what you are doing (remember measurable goals).. To improve the cardiovascular system you should be training 3-4 times per week. This could be a mixture of running, cycling and trekking.

It is also good to mix up the training method such as fartlek, interval and long slow distance. You can also train with carrying weight and covering mixed ground such as mountain paths. This will help develop muscles in your ankles and improve your ability to cover undulating terrain.

Strength training should also be included 1-2 times per week. If new to strength training start with bodyweight only before building into resistance training methods.

What skills will you need? Knowing how to ascend a fixed line (a fixed rope on the mountain) will be required for most 6000 meter peaks in the Himalayas.

Getting back down is just as important to familiarity of rappelling and abseiling is very useful. This is normally done with a figure of eight devise. Ice axe and crampons will also be needed; so being efficient with these tools will be very useful. Crossing ladders is particularly tricky so being comfortable balancing on crampons over narrow ridges will be beneficial.

Will I suffer from altitude? Most people feel the effects of altitude past 3500 meters. As you continue to ascend the body will adapt. The most important thing to remember is go SLOW. Fast hikers are much more likely to fall ill because they work their bodies too hard.


bottom of page