Is climbing and bouldering your thing? Would you like a little bigger chunk for a change? The next challenge is waiting for you on the doorstep: finally standing on a 4000m. Here is a brief overview of how you can best prepare for your first high tour and what you need to consider.
A post by Fiona Stappmanns on behalf of Bächli Bergsport
Of course, you don't have to wrap yourself in expedition clothing from head to toe for the first high-altitude tour. However, anyone who has ever done a mountain tour in pressing shoes knows how important a suitable shoe is - this applies particularly to high-speed tours, where absolute sure-footedness is a must.
Conditionally crampon-resistant shoes are usually so comfortable that they can also be used for normal mountain tours. But at the same time they are sufficiently warm and waterproof. In addition, the sole is stiff enough to be easily semi-automatic crampon to be fixed (rocker arm at the rear). They are suitable for light alpine tours. Fully crampon-resistant shoes have a very stiff sole and are suitable for more demanding alpine tours and climbing in ice.
A further minimum equipment includes Full speed belt. Here, a light model is recommended to save space and weight. Furthermore one belongs Pimple in your luggage. A straight model is sufficient for simple high revs.
For the clothes, it's best to use the proven onion principle. This includes one warm jacket as it can get very cold on higher peaks in summer and especially early in the morning. You can find an example of a packing list for a simple high-altitude tour at Customer Service.
A certain basic condition is essential
Even though there are some simple technical 4000s, tours such as the Bishorn or the Strahlhorn require a lot of stamina. Even with the technically simple tours, you are well on the go for ten to twelve hours and should be in good physical condition. With the right preparation, however, this should not be a problem.
In my hometown of St. Gallen I naturally find excellent training conditions because the city is in a kind of hollow and there are countless stairs. In my opinion, the best and most beautiful preparation for a high-altitude tour is and remains hiking. All in all, the fitter, the longer the concentration period to avoid mistakes and thus accidents.
In a high-speed course, you acquire the necessary basic knowledge
As soon as you leave hiking trails and enter glaciers, some basic knowledge is essential. This starts with the handling of the crampons and rope technique up to the rescue of gaps, walking on the short rope or belaying on the ridge. Through training you are prepared for the emergency and the knowledge you have learned is remembered. The best way to learn them is in a high-speed course.
The Bächli on tour you will find the “Firn and Ice Course”. You can also find more high-speed courses and specializations at Mountain point. There is a huge selection up to specialized courses for rock or ice and rope team coaching, in which you are prepared for the independent performance of high tours. Last year I was allowed to accompany the 4000 training in Saas-Fee for a few days. Of course, the SAC also offers courses or you can drum up a group of friends and book a mountain guide.
48 Swiss four-thousanders are available
In Switzerland alone there are 48 mountains over 4000m and even more attractive 3000m peaks. The choice of tours is huge. For the first tours it is advisable to go with a mountain guide or to join a guided tour. There are also courses from Bächli on tour, for example a glacier trekking on the Aletsch Glacier. Mountain point or the SAC also offer easy tours. Perhaps there is also an experienced mountaineer in your circle of friends who dares to do an easy tour.
Technically simple, but physically demanding: Bishorn and Strahlhorn
Technically simple but physically demanding tours are for example the Bishorn or the Strahlhorn. The Allalinhorn and Breithorn are often recommended, as you can cover a large part of the route with a cable car for both peaks. However, it should be noted here that you do not give the body the opportunity to get used to the height.
Anyone who - like me - is sensitive to altitude can react with headaches, nausea and dizziness. It is more pleasant to acclimate yourself sufficiently, for example by walking the altitude meters slowly and on foot, completing a few smaller mountain tours beforehand and spending the night in a hut. This will give your body enough time to get used to the thin air. The magic limit in Switzerland is around 2500m.
You should definitely drink enough during the tour, as this also counteracts the symptoms of altitude sickness. I try to get at least four liters a day, if possible more, and I start one or two days before the actual tour.
Book accommodation as early as possible
Once you have decided on a tour, you should definitely book accommodation in good time. Many SAC huts are already open again and it is advisable to book early if you want to stay in one of the more popular huts during the main season. Also, you should definitely inform yourself about the special regulations due to current events. If your material and preparation are right so far, then nothing stands in the way of your first 4000m summit experience.
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About Bächli mountain sports
Bächli mountain sports is the leading Swiss specialist shop for climbing, mountaineering, expeditions, hiking, ski touring and snowshoeing. At currently 13 locations in Switzerland, Bächli Bergsport offers its customers expert advice and high-quality service. Published on LACRUX Bächli mountain sports periodically exciting contributions to the topics climbing, bouldering and mountaineering.