Preparedness and Peak Performance for Mountaineering Tourists


  • Judy M. McDonald McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Santa Man Rai KarmaQuest International, Gloucester, Ontario, Canada
  • Shaunna Burke School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Leeds, Woodhouse, Leeds, UK
  • Michael G. Tyshenko Risk Sciences International, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


A key “watch item” was identified by McDonald et al. (2015) in a study conducted in Nepal that a growing number of tourists arrive largely unprepared for mountain expedition thinking it is simply “a holiday.” They lack awareness and understanding of altitude risks, hypothermia, wind-chill, weather conditions and exposure. Tourists believe Sherpas, if hired, should oversee all aspects of their ascent and descent. At high altitude, mountaineering risk due to lack of skillsets, experience and preparedness can result in tragedy (e.g., accidents, injuries and death). In the same study, one action item suggested collecting and adapting readiness strategies of expert high-altitude climbers into a guidance document for adventure tourists. This review aims to move this idea forward by identifying readiness strategies and competencies of high-altitude mountaineers. Climbing-specific challenges are summarized and individual competencies for physical, technical and mental readiness are identified for high-altitude mountain climbers. In addition, 13 mountaineering performance indicators are isolated. Nepal has the opportunity to expand its mountain-tourism sector, and we offer stakeholders recommendations for developing practical tools and guidance for low-altitude mountaineering tourists based on high-altitude competencies. Implementing new guidance will improve safety, identify gaps in preparedness, and enhance the overall tourism experience.