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Physical Preparation

Mountaineering is a strenuous sport that is why days before a scheduled climb one must prepare for it physically. We don’t actually count out the unfit to experience a "climb" for some mountains here in the Philippines are not that difficult that even "couch potatoes" can survive. But to truly enjoy the experience, a serious mountaineer should develop his physique to the point that it will never be a question and that he could focus on other matters such as appreciating a view than lingering in pain.

Engaging on other sports that are invaluable to the development of necessary physical skills involved in mountaineering can help him do this. It is not only as a preparation to a climb that these should be done, but it should already be a way of life if one wishes to become serious in this sport. Here are some suggested exercise regimes:

  • Running/Jogging-endurance
  • Biking-endurance
  • Swimming -endurance
  • Weight lifting-strength


Mountaineering demands a great amount of energy and effort. Such an activity drains the body of its water and other energy-boosting nutrients that needs to be replenished. With careful planning, the food one brings should be sufficient sources of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fiber & water. Other factors like age, sex, weather conditions, duration and difficulty of the expedition should be considered not only to have a well-balanced diet but also in order to determine the demands of energy the body needs are supplied sufficiently.

In order to maintain a well-balanced diet, it is necessary to eat the right amount of food daily. The food guide pyramid ideally provides a basis for general meal planning, arranged to indicate the proportion each group should consume on a daily basis.

(insert food guide pyramid)

Amount of food per serving:

Milk, yogurt & cheese group

1 serving

1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1 ½ to 2 ounces of cheese
Meat, poultry & fish group

1 serving

2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, fish or poulry;1 to 1 ½ cups of cooked dry beans; 2 eggs; or 4 to 6 tablespoons of peanut butter
Vegetable Group

1 serving

1 cup of raw, leafy, vegetables; ½ cup of other vegetables (cooked or chopped raw); or ¼ cup vegetable juice
Fruit Group

1 serving

1 medium apple, banana or orange; ½ cup of cooked, chopped or canned fruit; or ¾ cup of fruit juice
Bread, cereal, rice & Pasta Group

1 serving

1 slice bread; 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal; or ½ cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta


Carbohydrate: A major source of fuel to skeletal muscle, enabling the muscles to contract and you to perform the activity. Different activities would require different amounts of energy, depending on how strenuous the climb is going to be. It is generally practiced that before joining a major climb, mountaineers usually eat a lot of food highly rich in carbohydrates termed as carbo-loading. Carbohydrates provide us with 60-65% of our total energy intake. As the body could only store a limited amount of carbohydrate, the energy is also provided from the body's fat stores. Note that if the diet is not rich enough in carbohydrate to fuel the muscles, it will be difficult to sustain a long walk. Symptoms such as tiredness and heavy legs will be experienced.

Fat: A concentrated source of energy if uncontrolled could be harmful to health. The emphasis of a mountaineer's diet should be on foods containing carbohydrate and a small amount of fat. More than 35% of fat intake for long periods is associated to heart disease, obesity and cancer. During climbs or hikes, carbohydrates will be used initially and after a short time, a mixture of carbohydrates and fats.

Protein: Generally, 10-15% of the total energy intake comes from protein. It restores and repairs the body and helps fight infection. Excess protein from the diet is converted to fat.

Vitamins & minerals: A climb less than a week will not cause too much deficiency. Only in expeditions longer than a week would a body require additional vitamin supplements.

Fiber: Facilitates normal gut function and aids in regular bowel movement. During climb, it is suggested that you reduce the amount of fiber eaten as it creates a feeling of fullness limiting the amount of food intake. 30 grams of fiber is recommended and will not be harmful to health if this requirement is not met for a short period.

To summarize, the proportion of energy intake, which should come from carbohydrates, fat and protein is 60-65%, 25-30% and 10-15% respectively.

In actuality, your mess plate should contain more than half the plate of pasta, potatoes or rice (the carbohydrates food); a quarter should contain veggies (carbohydrate + protein); and the remainder should have lean meat, chicken or fish (protein + fat).


Based from experience, one will know whether it is just right, too much or too little. Bear in mind though that too much food means a heavy backpack and will take a slower trip. Too little will leave you hungry and affecting energy levels, strength and endurance. The following criteria should be kept in mind when choosing the right food to bring: (in no particular order)

  • Minimal spoilage
  • Lightweight
  • Less water consumption
  • Easy to prepare
  • Nutritious

Before packing, ensure that the unnecessary packaging has been disposed of, as this adds to the load. Packing a kit containing condiments and seasoning for not so popular and tasty meals may be worthwhile. Extra packs of coffee or chocolate or instant noodles must be on hand to keep you warm.

Suggested Foods to bring:

Porridge (lugaw)


Hash browns

Muesli/granola bars

Rice with dried fish


Peanut butter



Coffee or hot choco





Fresh fruit

Dried fruit

Chocolate bar




Fruit cup

Rice with meal

(usually canned goods)

Instant noodles






Mashed potatoes

Corned beef


Canned meat (tuna)

Dried fish

Mixed vegetables (pre-packed)

Hot choco

Fruit drink

* Gorp is a mixture of raisins, dried fruit, peanuts, and M&M’s


For a more scientific approach on how much food should be consumed based on the number of calories, see table below. Note that everyone has varying degrees of requirements so the table presented below is an average and may be adjusted to suit a climber's needs.

Estimated Daily Energy Requirements (DER) in kcalories

Sex Male Female
Age 15-18 19-50 15-18 19-50
DER in kcal 2755 2550 2110 1940

An additional 10 percent must be added for external factors.

  • if a full backpack is carried
  • for every ascent of 500m
  • extreme weather conditions

For example, the DER for a 70-kg man aged 27 yr. old undertaking a day's climb at Mt. Apo , with an ascent of 1000m.


Baseline DER 2550

20% for 1000m ascent 508

10% for a full backpack 254


Estimated requirements 3312 kcal


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