Lung Power and Climbing

However, once the weather on the mountain starts to become very cold, it is imperative to keep an eye on everyone’s breathing, even if they are experienced climbers well-versed in proper techniques. Very cold weather tends to make breathing much more difficult, not to mention raise your risk for getting a stroke. Fires, very warm clothing and breath-aiding devices are quite necessary. Such are the effects of cold on your respiration.

Then again, it is possible for the reverse to happen: that is, for breathing to affect body temperature. Still, such skills can be quite challenging to learn. For instance, there is the practice known as Tumo. Tumo can be thought of as a kind of “power breathing.” It is a very special technique developed by Tibetan monks. Not only does it help them stay warm in winter, but it also helps them to get through some of their more arduous meditation rituals, which can involve standing or sitting in icy-cold water for an entire night. Make no mistake, this is not an easy technique to learn, even for the monks themselves. It must be practiced for several hours a day, for many years. Many initiates begin learning it as young boy novices, and only master it some time during adulthood. Traveling monks may give introductory classes during lectures and other types of visits, but such lessons are only a tiny taste of what the real technique is like.

Regulated breathing can be quite useful in the case of climbing accidents. For example, you might get caught in a cave-in or other such occurrence, and become trapped in a small, confined space. You might have brought some oxygen tanks with you, but these will eventually run out, and either way, you still have to deal with the carbon dioxide building up in that small space from your exhalations. Being able to control your breathing increases the likelihood that you will be still breathing when it comes. Controlling breath can also help you stay calm and focused. Breathe easy, and you can conserve air by not hyperventilating.

If you improve breathing patterns, this can also increase endurance when you are climbing up the lower altitudes. The atmosphere might still be what you are used to at low-lying areas, but the exertion of climbing means that you will still need to breathe deeply in order to feed your muscles.

In conclusion, be sure to include various types of breathing exercises as you prepare for mountain climbing. Try to learn some tricks for increasing endurance, conserving air in tight places, staying calm and even keeping warm. Even if you bring oxygen tanks, it is good to train your system to be its own oxygen tank, up to a point.