“Altitude isn’t something to underestimate, even if you’ve been climbing for years,” Virtuoso travel agency CEO Joshua Bush says. He’s an avid hiker who has conquered two of the world’s Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each continent. “Know your limits and experiment at lower elevations before considering higher challenges. The more you know how altitude affects you personally, the better chances you’ll have of reaching your goal.”
Distance and load-bearing can be daunting, too. “Build up your stamina and know your limits before you go,” Virtuoso travel agency owner Becky Lukovic says. “If your hike includes carrying your own gear, train with gear or weights to prepare. If you’re aiming for a long or multi-day tour, start with mileage that you’re comfortable with, then increase your distance by 10 to 20 percent each week.”
Simply put, make sure your gear works before you get to base camp. “Use your gear, and all of it, ahead of time,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Tania Swasbrook. “Break in the boots, wear the wool socks – wool is key, never use cotton in any weather – use your backpack, and see how much water you need to drink. Wear your hiking clothes under the backpack and see if it actually fits.”
Often, there’s more than one way to reach a mountaintop. “Some treks have many different routes that vary depending on level of difficulty, distance, scenery, and accommodations,” Virtuoso travel advisor Jodi Fox says. “Make sure you talk with your advisor about your top priorities and abilities before choosing your route.”
“You will never be too cold, hot, sweaty, or wet if you are dressed correctly,” travel advisor Wayne Muhlstein says. To help his clients prepare, Muhlstein provides a packing list and suggests where to shop for the best selection and value. But that’s not all. “I arrange for their gear to arrive at the destination, as well as to be picked up and returned home at the end of the adventure,” he says.
“Invest in great socks that wick away sweat and have some cushion,” Lukovic adds. “I love Smartwool socks, even in the summer – they pull moisture away and regulate the temperature of your feet.”