How hard is a 6000m peak?
6000m peaks in the Himalayas are often referred to as trekking peaks. They are usually only 200m above this height because anything closer to 7000m is much harder.
They require a good amount of mountain endurance even though the daily distance you cover is 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 acclimatising.
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.
How fit do I need to be?
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 boots.
How often should you train?
This depends what you are doing. To improve the cardiovascular system you need to be training 3-4 times per week. This could be a mixture of running, cycling and trekking.
Intensity should be around 60% max heart rate to achieve your heart rate zone 1-2.
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.
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 will help.
Will I suffer from altitude?
Most people feel the effects of altitude past 3500 meters. As you continue to ascend the body will adjust accordingly. 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.
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