Have you ever wondered what the difference between trekking and mountaineering is? And what about trekking versus hiking? Well in this comprehensive guide to trekking and mountaineering, we will delve deep into the details of each activity.
You will learn not only the definition but the specifics of each sport – including their similarities and differences. By the time you are done reading this article, you will have learned everything that there is to know about trekking and mountaineering.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in and get started…
WHAT IS TREKKING?
Trekking is defined as an activity that involves multi-day trips, which can last up to months in duration. The sport is similar to hiking, although it is more demanding as the terrain is often off the beaten track. Hiking on the other hand, generally takes place along a well-worn trail or path.
This is a far cry from trekking, which frequently requires a map and compass for navigation. Both trekking and mountaineering are typically located in places far from the infrastructure of any nature – including transport or medical assistance.
Although trekking can be viewed as walking, trekking through the rugged outdoors is no joke – but there are many who enjoy the activity, particularly for the beautiful scenery.
The sport is one of the best ways to enjoy rare sightings, granting access to untouched wild areas.
Trekkers also find a sense of purpose in exploring their natural surroundings. Trekking is a journey, and has a holistic component to it, in that trekkers begin to view the world through a new perspective.
This means that trekking holds the potential to broaden a mindset, by exposing trekkers to new experiences.
But there are more benefits to trekking than the beautiful scenery and sense of wonder, as trekking is well-known to be a physically demanding exercise. As a result, trekking is excellent for overall fitness and health, boosting the immune and expanding longevity.
That being said, trekking is not a good choice for those new to exercise entirely. It takes a certain degree of fitness to successfully complete a trek, and it is wise to train for treks before attempting one.
Training for trekking begins with walking and hiking, but remember there are levels of fitness required for those too.
Both hikes and treks are organised into three general categories of fitness – including beginner, intermediate and advanced.
However, these terms are vague and what one person finds achievable is based entirely on fitness and energy levels – as well as motivation and willpower.
That being said, the main factors affecting the difficulty of different treks and hikes are duration, terrain, inclines, and altitude.
Another aspect to be factored in is the weather, as trekking can differ significantly depending on the season.
WHAT IS MOUNTAINEERING?
Mountaineering is defined as “the sport or activity of climbing a mountain.” Trips can last anywhere from a few hours to longer than a week. Mountaineering is even more physically demanding than trekking, and climbers train for months before embarking on their first expedition.
Mountains are notoriously difficult in terms of navigating terrain on foot, as there is often ice, snow, and rock to contend with. As a result, climbers must be skilled in navigating through these natural challenges and obstacles.
If the mountain terrain is particularly difficult, climbers may need to make use of technical equipment and specialized skills. Equipment includes rope, harnesses, helmets, mountaineering gloves and boots, carabiners and more.
In terms of the skillset needed, climbers must have trained in rock climbing, scrambling, glacier travel, ice climbing and more.
This advanced level of mountaineering is necessary for difficult winter climbs, where conditions add technical difficulty. It is particularly important to note that winter mountaineering is only recommended to expert climbers.
In winter, climbers are at risk of causing avalanches, and special training is needed in order to avoid this pitfall. There are numerous challenges in the mountain, most of which are derived from the characteristics of the mountain.
This includes not only avalanches, but crevasses, rockfalls, and glaciers as well. The altitude is also an important factor, especially when climbing at heights over 3000 meters. Additionally, difficult weather conditions can play a role in the overall mountaineering experience.
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TREKKING VERSUS MOUNTAINEERING
As some climbers refer to mountaineering-without-equipment as “trekking,” the difference between the two terms becomes rather blurry. However, there is a clear difference between mountaineering and trekking, with trekking not including any form of climbing.
Trekking might be used to describe certain aspects of mountaineering, but in reality, trekking lasts longer than a few hours. Therefore if mountaineer climbers refer to aspects of their trip as “trekking,” these stretches of walking through rugged terrain must last longer than a single day.
Remember, trekking is defined as a multi-day activity, whereas mountaineering can take less than a day. That being said, the key difference between mountaineering and trekking lies in the equipment and skillsets needed.
While most intermediate hikers could successfully accomplish a trek without training, untrained mountaineer climbers might not be so lucky.
Mountaineering involves learning how to navigate through the most hardcore terrain, using a wide range of climbing equipment. Trekking, on the other hand, relies largely on rucksacks and camping equipment for success.
Of course, not all trekkers and climbers will carry their own equipment. There are a number of organized climbs and treks that offer porters as part of the package. Porters assist in treks and climbs, by carrying the equipment of participants.
Guides are also often included in the package, particularly for more advanced treks and climbs. This is because both trekking and hiking are dangerous, and it is best to have the knowledge of someone with experience on the trip.
No matter whether you choose to try trekking or mountaineering, safety is the top priority.
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