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Gear / Physical & Mental Preparation

A wise mountaineer (old-school type) declared over a long grey beard and a cup of strong coffee that, "there's no such thing as a bad day in the mountains, just bad preparation." 

Preparation requires that a climber have the appropriate equipment, as well as physical and mental fitness necessary for safe and successful travel in the alpine environment. S2 members are required to provide an honest assessment of their health condition, skills and experience in the back-country prior to participating in any expedition. The assessment is part of a larger decision making process that informs a member of their strengths and potential limitations. S2 staff consult with our members to match them with a range of appropriate trekking or climbing options. S2 embraces a philosophy that preparation for the mountains is an enduring lifestyle choice that also prepares us for the life challenges we encounter each day. 

The Value of Mental Fitness:  The human body is an amazing creation, capable of withstanding extreme and challenging conditions. While mental fitness is a powerful quality, mental weakness frequently overcomes climbers, causing them to question their ability to reach the summit. There are moments on every mountain where one experiences discomfort or questions their ability. Mental fitness is a key quality that helps us overcome adverse conditions. Even the most highly experienced and “scrappiest” climbers submit to question, but they are also distinguished by their steely discipline and mental commitment. Development of mental fitness is closely associated with a conscious effort to embrace a difficult challenge, regardless of wavering confidence or physical discomfort.    

The Value of Physical Fitness:  An individual with high physical and cardiovascular strength has a greater advantage of reaching the summit. As an individual climbs to higher elevation, there is a lower concentration of available oxygen in the air. Reduced oxygen availability requires the body to work harder, decreases stamina and increases fatigue. Muscular fitness, particularly lower body, also promotes high performance on those steep inclines so common to our destinations. A physically fit individual is better prepared to withstand these rigorous conditions. 

Training Makes Your Mountaineering Experience More Enjoyable:  The high alpine environment is a spectacular place, and the achievement of getting there can be a dream or a nightmare. The difference between having appreciation of your surroundings or needing to concentrate on how to accommodate your discomfort will be determined in large part by your fitness. Take your health seriously and train properly – the mountains demand it. We also believe that a healthy lifestyle demands it. Regardless of our high altitude ambitions, mental and physical fitness are necessary lifestyle qualities contributing to healthy living and a high performing lifestyle.

We Have You Covered:  We understand and appreciate that climbing requires significant time, effort and expense. It’s usually a once in a lifetime opportunity. We extend an invitation to individuals interested in climbing with S2 to join us for a personal assessment of your overall fitness and preparation. Our guides will evaluate your overall ability, strengths and weaknesses, including physical and mental fitness. While it’s important to understand individual weaknesses, we emphasize success built on identification and improvement of existing strengths. If you’re not ready, we’ll tell you why and provide recommendations on how to improve your performance so that you can be ready. The majority of members who have climbed with S2 have committed to a trip eight months or more in advance of departure. This gives members a sufficient amount of time to ensure they’re fully prepared.

S2 encourages climbers at all levels of experience and interest to participate in an expedition at an appropriate skill level. Nobody should feel intimidated or incapable of enjoying the mountains. To this end, S2 leaders regularly consult on routes requiring no experience to multi-month international expeditions requiring significant skill, experience and confidence.

Guiding You Through Gear:  New climbers often arrive in-country with unnecessary, inadequate or “over” adequate equipment. The problem (and expense) can be easily avoided with a little bit of planning.  If you’re concerned about how cold it is at the summit or sleeping comfortably in a tent at altitude, we’ve got you covered. S2 guides regularly consult on the best and most appropriate gear.  We regularly conduct gear trials with climbers well in advance of trip departure to ensure your equipment is comfortable and performs according to expectation. We’ll help you identify problems quickly and provide professional advice on product selection. Need a pack fitting? Are those new boots a little tight in the toe box on a downhill slope? Not sure what a hydration pack is or if you should use a bottle insulator on summit day? We know gear and we’ll share our experience to make sure your trip is comfortable and enjoyable. S2 develops Gear Lists and Requirements tailored to each of our destinations and your personal comfort. 

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