Mentally Preparing for a High Altitude Adventure

There is no getting away from it, high altitude training is as tough as it is rewarding. In order to reach whatever summit you have set your sights on, you need to be in the right place mentally. This might sound easier said than done but if you follow these pointers you will be well on the way to reaching great heights (excuse the pun). Seriously though, to have success, you need to be strong mentally and emotionally, have a positive attitude and be able to think in the moment. Last week I wrote about the physical challenges, this post deals with the mental.

High Altitude adventure

Photo courtesy of Andrew E. Larsen(CC No Derivatives)

Physical Preparation

The level of physical preparation you do prior to embarking on your journey is crucial. If you know that you have done all you possibly can in the build up to your altitude adventure, this will have a knock on effect of making you mentally stronger on the climb. This cannot be overstated. Make sure your training is tough so you can rely on memories of this mental toughness when attempting the real thing.


Visualisation is a technique used by many great sporting figures prior to major tournaments or events. The same technique is essential for climbers too. You have to visualise yourself successfully climbing the mountain before you even begin it. Doing so will improve your psyche and allow you something to focus on when faced with tough conditions.

Prepare for acclimatization and downtime

During the climb you will get have a lot of rest time. If you are not mentally prepared, negative thoughts, fears and frustrations can cloud your judgement and throw you off course. To combat this, use your training time to practise meditation so you can relax mentally during these rest periods and be focused when continuing your climb.

Also, if you are not acclimatized to altitude properly prior to your big trip, you may well experience extreme sickness, disorientation and  hallucinations which will obviously put your mind in a bad place. Ensure you are fully prepared for this scenario by incorporating altitude training into your preparation so you avoid these feelings when it really matters.

Remain in the moment

Successfully completing a high altitude adventure requires awareness and attention to your surroundings. The following strategies will  ensure your thinking does not become fuzzy and clouded.

  1. Focus on your breathing, this will ensure you have mastery over your mind at all times.
  2. Set short term goals as you climb to keep you in the present and make sure you do not feel overwhelmed.

When you complete your adventure, the feeling of satisfaction will outweigh all the hardships you put yourself through. It will undoubtedly be tough but by following these techniques, hopefully it will be that little bit easier allowing you to enjoy the experience more than simply endure it.

Remember, have fun!