Your legs are hurting, you are breathing hard, and your chest feels like it is going to burst out of your body. Yet, you continue putting one foot in front of the other and struggle on.
That’s the basic description of what you will feel like when you go up Mt. Blanc. As one of the characters in the movie “Everest” said, climbing is just pain.
It is the ultimate test of your willpower. It takes an enormous amount of mental strength and perseverance to be able to finally reach the top.
This especially applies for people who spend most of their year sitting in their office being desk jockeys. For them, this can be quite challenging.
It is not an insurmountable task though. Every year, thousands of people manage to climb it. The pain lasts only a short time, but the memories last a lifetime.
Struggle on for a few days, but from then on, you will be a man who climbed the mountain. That is something no one can take away from you.
Contrary to what some people think, Mt. Blanc is not the highest mountain in Europe. That honor belongs to Mt. Elbrus in the Russian Caucasian Mountains. However, it is the highest mountain in Western Europe and stands at 4808 meters high.
The climb is not technically challenging, meaning that you won’t have to do any specialist mountaineering techniques. All you require is a good stamina, and good acclimatization.
You will also need equipment for mountaineering in snowy conditions, such as ropes and crampons. If you are a beginner, don’t go alone, but instead with a guide or at least an experienced mountaineer.
Don’t underestimate the dangers, as every year, a few people die on the mountain and many more need to be rescued.
The hardest thing I have ever done physically
I stood on top of Mt. Blanc last week. For me, it was probably the hardest thing that I have done physically, ever. It really pushed me to what I thought were my limits, but I discovered that my real limits are still way beyond that.
So in that way, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but also one of the most rewarding ones as well. Paradoxically, this pain is the reward of the journey.
By conquering this pain you prove to yourself that you have what it takes and can succeed at even the hardest things. You can succeed at things that the majority of people are too scared to even attempt.
What does a typical desk jockey need in order to be able to climb Mt. Blanc?
Well, besides the equipment and a strong mountaineer with him, the most important thing is a good preparation.
The first part of the preparation involves having good stamina. I really concentrated on getting my cardio up. The journey is long and hard, and you need to be physically prepared for it.
The best way to prepare is to do a lot of progressively longer (and more challenging) hikes in the mountains, but for many city folks, this is something they can’t do too often.
Most of my time training for this was spent in the gym, going up on these stepper machines. I started off going for less time and easier modes, but as I was getting more fit, I kept increasing the times and the challenge.
You can also go on daily runs or maybe even join some of those group fitness classes, if you think that you will get more motivated that way. Anything that improves your stamina is good.
This is the basic prerequisite, however no matter how hard you work in the gym, it does not ensure that you will be prepared to summit.
The key here is a good acclimatization. The most challenging part of hiking in mountains is that the higher you go up, the more challenging it gets. The reason for this is the lower amount of oxygen in higher altitudes.
This means that all the stuff that is easy at sea level, becomes quite hard in the mountains. You need to get your body ready for this, and this means that you need to spend a lot of time at higher altitudes as close as possible to the time before your ascent of Mt. Blanc.
The best way to do this is by scheduling a few hikes in the mountains a few days or the weekend before you go to Mt. Blanc. This way your body gets used to the altitude and you lower your chances of getting headaches or worse when you are there.
A bonus with this is the fact that you will also train some of the muscles that you don’t use in your desk jockey life, but which are crucial for mountaineering.
Doing these mountain hikes, really exposed how far we are removed from nature and “real life” in our modern lives. I discovered muscles I never knew I had and they all hurt! 🙂