SUMMIT A 7000 | Suggestions and practical tips to prepare a high altitude mountaineering expedition
Luca Montanari, expert mountain guide, consultant for high-altitude expeditions and Kayland ambassador, provides us with a list of activities and operations to tackle the difficult task of climbing a 7000.
Unity is strength: this rule always applies, especially at very high altitudes, when the lack of rest and oxygen becomes very demanding to manage.
To face a seven thousand it is important to have adequate preparation, with good physical training and a previous mountain experience. Generally, before facing such ambitious projects, I set up meetings with customers in the Alps to check their preparation. In this way, I have the possibility to control many things: from the motivation to the route to take to conquer the summit.
In my opinion, before leaving for an expedition, you need to know the traveling companions, from the technical point of view and to adapt to the group. In addition to this, it is useful to have in the team some companions with specific skills, for example first aid experiences, or previous expeditions made and, consequently, life in high fields.
The choice of an expedition leader is fundamental, since he will assume the responsibility of coordinating the group and making decisions.
After defining the general program, pass to the operational phase: establish roles and tasks, find information on the ascent, evaluate the most appropriate technical material for the type of climb in the program, define as many details as possible.
The details at high altitude can be decisive for the success of the expedition: for this reason, always rely on an agency that is expert in the field.
The services at the base camp and the high camps vary, according to the requests: full packages provide a complete service for the preparation of the tents at the base camp and the high fields, while basic packages limit the service to the base camps. A prepared agency has all the necessary services, from personal tents to the preparation of high fields, up to the installation of fixed ropes along the most exposed points of the climb. However, the decision to prefer a full package to a base one (or vice versa) must be accurately pondered.
I remind you that the management of the climb of a 7000 in complete autonomy involves a great physical and mental preparation, a lot of experience in the field of organization of the fields, adequate preparation in the choice of materials, ability to predict the supply of food and gas cylinders for cooking.
High altitude clothing
The transport of clothing and materials is facilitated by the presence of porters or animals such as yaks, donkeys and horses. In the first case, I recommend using pvc bags, which are comfortable to carry on the shoulders of bearers. In the case of animals, instead, you could use plastic bins.
The choice of technical clothing is essential to avoid freezing and to manage the very strong temperature changes. In fact, at very high altitudes you can suffer very cold, but also heat: therefore you must limit these excesses with appropriate clothes. For example: at night and in the morning the temperatures can be many degrees below zero, but during the day the radiation becomes stronger and stronger. For this reason, make sure you have suitable clothes such as trousers and jackets with adjustable ventilation zips and cuffs, bring light and breathable caps with visor and neck guard, protect yourself from the sun rays with ultra-high protection sunscreens. I make a huge use of technical vests, to always be protected from cold air. Another very important garment is gloves: it is necessary to have a choice of several pairs with different thicknesses. The same goes for socks, preferably in merino wool or Primaloft. Above all, pay attention to footwear: they are very important! I use 3 types: the first is a low and comfortable shoe to use for traveling and approaching the base camp (Kayland Gravity is an excellent solution). Then I use a classic mountaineering boot (Kayland 4001 GTX for acclimatization climbs up to 6000 meters). For the highest fields and for the summit, it is essential to have a specific boot: Kayland 8001, with double foot liner and internal shoe inserts in Primaloft hollow fiber, which guarantee maximum insulation at very low temperatures. Remember to always choose them a couple of extra sizes, to be able to wiggle your toes inside the shell, ensuring good circulation.