Contrary to somewhat widely held belief, a trek, mountaineering expedition, ski trip or river run does not require superhuman physical condition. What is essential is a love for the outdoors and respect for nature. If you're fired by the spirit of adventure, let the sparks in your heart fly in the hills of Kumaun, a land blessed with snowbound peaks, crystal glaciers, rolling meadows, jagged rock faces, scenic valleys, meandering rivers, cascading waterfalls, dense forests and hospitable people with rich culture.
Trekking, the best way of getting to know any land, it's people, it's culture and traditions, is often confused with mountaineering which is more technical and a pre planned affair. Adi Shankaracharya, who trekked in the Himalayas in the 8th century A.D., was the pioneer who opened trekking routes in this part of India.
The mountain adventure season which till recently was confined to the summer months in this region; now covers almost the full year including winter. This has been made possible by improved equipment and transportation and the availability of the year-round bookings in the areas hitherto considered inaccessible.
Treks, mountaineering expeditions, ski and river runs can be graded with reference to the degree of difficulty of the terrain, accessibility and rescue or support requirements.
|1||Low altitude excursion, with or without trekking. Appropriate for anyone in good health.|
|2||Trekking below 5,250 m upto six hours a day. Some trekking experience, though not essential, would facilitate orientation.|
|3||Trekking routes going above 5,250 m thereby requiring greater physical activity including sustained periods above the tree line. Previous trekking experience preferable. 4 Good physical condition and basic mountaineering skills essential.|
|4||Good physical condition and basic mountaineering skills essential|
|5||High grade physical condition and advanced mountaineering experience required.|
In addition to the trip grading, which is primarily an indication of required level of physical fitness and activity, each trip can be further categorized by degree of difficulty as follows :-
A - Simple B - Medium C - Strenuous
On this combined categorization would further depend the need for special equipment.
As a rule of thumb, in unfamiliar terrain, it is wise to 'return when the fun stops'. The important thing is to be able to judge a crisis quickly and take corrective action including evacuation. That perhaps is the paradox of the spirit of adventure: but for the attempt to do just that little bit more, many of nature's marvels would remain unseen.
It is advisable to be medically examined before starting so as to narrow down the possibility of altitude sickness.