Can You Help Trekkers Out Of This “Fitness Faking” Epidemic?

If you’re a trekker and you’re reading this, we need your help. It’s for something that has left all of us at Indiahikes in a fix.

It’s about the fitness criteria we have for our treks. 

We’ve noticed that many trekkers have started faking their fitness. Consequently, they’re struggling on their treks. Even our Trek Leaders and staff members find it difficult to handle unfit trekkers. And we need a way out.

Let me give you a quick backgrounder.

Back in 2016, we introduced a strict fitness criteria for all our treks. For easier treks, our criteria was that trekkers should be able to run 5 km in 45 mins. For tougher treks it was 5 km in 35 minutes. This would tell us whether they were physically fit to endure the demands of a high altitude trek or not.

What happened after we introduced the fitness criteria?

Ever since we introduced this criteria, the experience of our trekkers has improved tenfold. 

I’d like you to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth. A trekker Pravin Shekar sent us this email last week. I’m pasting it as it came to us, without edits:

Testimonial: I hated it.


I hiked with IndiaHikes two years ago. It was a trek to the valley of flowers. I didn’t like the whole experience and blamed everything. The weather, the terrain, the padyaatra route, the accommodation, the works. I hated it, until I decided to get out of this victim mentality. The last couple of treks, I was fit – that’s what I thought! I was heavy and always the last one in the group to finish, my speed and stops for photography being the reason.


Mails from IndiaHikes kept landing in my inbox and I decided to read one at random. It was a mail on how to be fit for a trek and about the myths surrounding trek preparation. Then came the video series that made a lot of sense. IF YOU AREN’T FIT, DO NOT TREK, It’s not a holiday! Rather direct communication but it drove the message across! I took a break for two years from any kind of trekking.


In the last two years, I dropped 17.5 kilos, trained hard and got fit for my next trek. This was a trek to the Tarsar Marsar lakes in Kashmir. I still stopped quite often to photograph – and managed to finish the trek in the top 5-7 every day. No, it wasn’t a race, but a rally! There’s a stipulated time based on the terrain and weather and the trek guides ensured we stuck to it. Oxymeter readings were taken thrice everyday and the guide was constantly checking if all of us were fit. It was a moment of pride when I received the TREKFIT badge from Aashey (trek guide) and Heera (guide). Incidentally, Heera was the sweeper guide in my Valley of Flowers trek and appreciated my enhanced fitness!


The positive loop. I was fit, started well and kept on going without much of huffing and puffing! I could take more photo breaks as the rest of the group caught up and could just sit down and soak in more of the scenery, the tranquility and the beauty.


Liking something or hating…..Doesn’t it all start from within! I had to learn it the hard way; thanks to IndiaHikes and their learning sessions that dinned it right up.”

Well, if that doesn’t sum up the experience of a fit trekker, I don’t know what will. We receive such mails almost everyday. So we know the fitness criteria is very helpful.

But we also know that even one unfit trekker can bring the entire team’s experience down. And we see this happening often.

A fit team on Everest Base Camp trek. Picture by Santhosh Govindarajulu.

The problem we’re facing

Now coming to the problem. We notice that a chunk of trekkers fake their fitness. They fool us by sending fake fitness proofs.

To give you some recent stats, out of 72 trekkers that went on the Pin Bhaba Pass trek last month, around 11 trekkers struggled severely and 5 had to be sent back to the base camp without completing the trek. That’s 7% of all the trekkers, no small number. This was because they were not physically fit to do the trek. They had, however, uploaded screenshots fulfilling the required criteria.

Honestly, this is very disheartening. Our Trek Coordinators and Leaders put in a great deal of effort to make their trek experience the best. But when they don’t put in effort from their end for their own trek, it really undoes all our effort.

Plus, it’s extremely unfair to other trekkers who have worked on their fitness, when their experience comes down by many notches because of others’ lack of fitness.


How do trekkers fake fitness?

They have creative hacks. When our Trek Coordinators ask them to go for a run, record it on an app and send screenshots of their runs, they blatantly fake it. Either they turn off their GPS and run (this records wrong information), or they go on their bikes and record the distance. I was appalled to see some trekkers laughing at the thought of fooling us.

I know that such people will learn their lessons on the trek, but the problem is that unfit trekkers are a burden on the slopes.

They are slow; their steps falter; they end up having a guide all to themselves when the guide is supposed to be helping other trekkers too. They’re huge resource hoggers.

Added to that, they are more prone to altitude sickness. An unprepared body finds it difficult to cope with the pace of the group. As a result, you start to push yourself harder and breathe much harder than normal. This has a double effect. When you breathe hard, your body quickly depletes its oxygen levels. Added to this, there is lesser oxygen in the air. This can quickly develop into acute mountain sickness.

On difficult treks, this can even turn fatal.

Which is why it’s incredibly important to come up with a process that makes trekkers take fitness seriously. And this is where we’re in a fix. 

Do you think you can suggest a fool-proof method to check for trekkers’ fitness?

Here’s our current fitness protocol:

  1. We have a BMI upper limit of 28. Many trekkers have told me that this is not a good indication. We do understand that. But this is just to alert us. We don’t pay attention to their BMI, but we do pay attention to their fitness. Even if someone has a BMI of 30, but can run 5 km in 35 minutes, we have no issues.
  1. We ask all our trekkers (irrespective of their BMI) to send a fitness proof at least 20 days before they go on their trek. This is by recording their run and sending us a screenshot.

Outside of this, do you have any other ideas? Don’t hesitate to tell us even if it is radically different, bizarre, or seems downright silly.

Honestly, we’re at our wits’ end here, trying to figure out a way to enforce a fitness process. So please give it some thought and put your thoughts down in a comment below.

Swathi Chatrapathy

Swathi Chatrapathy

Swathi heads the digital content team at Indiahikes. She is also the face behind India's popular trekking video channel, Trek With Swathi. Unknown to many Swathi also writes a weekly column at Indiahikes which has more than 100,000 followers. Swathi is known for her expertise in digital content, which has made her a much sought after resource in many events. Before joining Indiahikes, she worked as a reporter and sub-editor at a daily newspaper. She holds a Masters in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates the mind more than anything else. Through trekking, Swathi hopes to impact a person's mind, body and spirit. Read Swathi's other articles. Watch Swathi's video series here.

217 thoughts on “Can You Help Trekkers Out Of This “Fitness Faking” Epidemic?

  1. I had shared the below for the review after my last trek.

    I do have a suggestion regarding the health requirement. I have seen lot of fresh trekkers signing up for difficult trekkers as their first trek whether it is KGL, Rupin, Buran Ghati etc. I understand there is an economical reason too that if you ignored fresh trekkers they would happily go with your competitors, so cannot stop this altogether! They usually struggle, complain, whine and it is a bad experience for all. I have quite a number of horror stories of how fresh trekkers cope on difficult treks.

    I would suggest two things here 1) please mention clearly on top (in a different colour/paragraph) in the trek page that it is a difficult trek and urge fresher’s to consider if they are really fit for this 2) running 5km or 10km or 20km does not make you fit for a Himalayan trek, it does not build the endurance for climbing up a steep trail or walking on boulders etc. that too on a higher altitude. And so it should be noted that along with running and other exercises “you need to do multiple day hikes” of 2-4 hours in your neighbourhood. You can ask this as proof to as per the fitness take always. It is funny to see people with no hiking experience of even few hours coming for a difficult Himalyan trek.

    1. Hi sir, thank you for putting your thoughts down. We’ve actually given this a lot of thought — not letting first timers on moderate-difficult treks. But this is an extremely difficult thing to do. There are lots of very fit first timers as well, lots of marathon runners, fitness aficionados. So making that a blanket rule might not be possible.

      I think your first suggestion nails it though. We really need to state very clearly the difficulties of the trek and educate people about it much before they do. We’ll see how we can up the content around the difficulties and the fitness required.

      1. HI Swati,
        Firstly I would like to mention that a single run is not indicative for a fitness level pass/fail criteria, even if one achieves a pass , there is not guarantee that the person will perform well on a trek.
        For the registration criteria you need to assess a total of 8 runs & 12 walk of atleast 5 -7km each event.
        which gets divided to 2 runs & 3 walks in a week, this much is bare minimum to train/check your endurance.
        The NRC -App Nike Run Club, has run details like km/splits & pace for every run, this should be the criteria to choose & follow rather than the overall summary.
        For eg: An average runner will have a pace of 6 min/km or 7 min/km or even 7.3min/km pace is good enough to develop basic fitness for a trek.
        For the walks the pace should be 10 min/km to 11.3 min/km sustained for atleast an hour of walk.
        The NRC also allows to upload all of these in the website which can be recorded for a month & send screen shots of this to the trek coordinator to assess.
        Serious trek aspirants would do this diligently! Maybe its wise to leave out the non serious types!

    2. I agree on this. I did few nearby hikes before leaving during the highest summer season so I do not slow down the group and was surprised to see people in the lowest fitness level. They were not even able to walk after day 1. The day ends really late, there is no time for group activities

    3. Hellor from Spain!
      We will be joinig Pin Bhaba Pass Trek next august 2019
      An option for proving fitness might be sending picture of the trekker, name of peak, ascent and descent meters, time walking, GPS and track of different activities done the two months before like trekking, ascending summits, cycling, etc….yiu can monitor these features with any device lime garmin or suunto or cheaper ones
      It would force people training at least two months before the trek and might be a better proof of fitness and outdoor experience rather than running once 5 km and send a (hopefully true) picture
      As I am an Instragram user I am also using a hashtag named #pinbhabapasstrek or #pinbhabatrain when I have gone out trekking or jogging ….this might be faked as well but a mixture of having to have several mountain activity and being trek leaders to track it as well might be nice
      See you next august 4th in Shimla!!!

  2. On Fitbits you can track heart rates. A fit trekker should be able to maintain heart rates of 130 + (cardio or peak heart rates) for 30 +minutes. It’s not easy to fake a heart rate of 130 +. Can’t hit that unless someone is jogging or walking really fast. You could probably collect both the heart rate and exercise details. I think the heart rate probably is a more direct measure. Obviously not fool proof but better than just the distance.

    1. This would be a great option. I use something similar to a Fitbit myself, so I know that would work. At the same time, we are dealing with over 20,000 trekkers a year. Not many of them would be willing to invest in a fitness device. So implementing on such a large scale might be an issue.

  3. Addition to comment above – for treks i have signed up for, I have sent distance, calories burned, heart rates for the run – more parameters, more the likelihood of spotting a fake.

  4. Definitely a great start – My advise would be to add things besides running like swimming or cycling. They can also be tracked through apps.

    However, this check is not fake proof either. Ideal would be a short 20 min physical activity at first camping point, when you still have vehicles to send unfit folks back. That would give you a better idea.

    I can share some thoughts on this if you would like to try it…you can email me

    1. I agree with this Point. Add an extra day at difficult treks, the 1st day will be a decider where Trek Leads can test the fitness of Trekkers and send unfit ones back

    2. Hi Iqbal, we have given a great deal of thought to sending trekkers back from the first campsite. But we have also learnt that this might not be right. Almost all trekkers reach the base camp after a long journey and are usually tired on the first day. Many a time, people who go from within Indiahikes, no matter how fit, are not at the top of their games on the first day of the trek.

      So assessing fitness on the first day would not be fair. Added to that, it’s easier said than done, to ask someone to turn around from the base camp and head home after they have spent thousands of rupees to simply get there. Even if we refund their trek fee, they’ll not get back the money they spent on their flight / train etc. So that’s a little too harsh. 🙁

      1. I understand the concerns but this should be communicated before. If people are not fit and they show up because they have booked the tickets, it simply is not going to help them Or the group.

        There are lot of ways to get more attributes of workout but people can always fake it. One time my friend asked me if she can find someone to run on her behalf. There will always be people who will find ways to fake it, Fear and morality are the only things that can stop people from coming to a trek when they are unfit.

  5. Hi,
    I feel just two screenshots is not enough to prove the fitness level. I remember when I had done rupin pass in 2017 I had put alteast six screenshot of 5km run. The fitness regime you give is extremely good n effective, but there are ppl who take it very lightly. Maybe the watsapp grp can be created a little early n then ask ppl to put their run screenshot on watsapp grp, it may provide encouragement to others to do the same.

    1. Hi Suraja, this is actually a great suggestion. This would also help us make sure that trekkers don’t go and run just the one day to cover 4-5 km, but keep at it consistently. I think we’ll try and implement this. Thanks a lot for putting thought and time into this!

      1. Swathi,
        I don’t believe, folks set out to fake the system, but it is lack of awareness, motivation, resource availablity that lead to this issue and anything that helps to motivate would be the way to go. Having said that, this suggestion of using the whatsapp group with fellow trekkers as both motivational and peer validation (imp aspect) of the fitness level would be very effective.
        Another one I would suggest is to encourage some kind of fitness challenge within the trekking whatsapp group. I personnally created “Monthly 70 miles” challenge couple of months before my actual trek with my friends and tracked on Endomondo app. This motivated me to get out consistently and helps in building endurance as well.
        On awareness, may be more trek specific fitness requirements information during registration process either by graphic/short video.
        And finally on resources, IndiaHikes can have regional hiking/trekking information for local day hikes. Lots of folks are from flatlands, any information in finding nearest hill, would help in getting experience in walking up an elevation, especially for first time hikers.

  6. Faking the fitness is nothing but fooling others.. But somewhere inside they know that they are not enough fit for trek.. Why not add a Clause to trek form that unfit trekkers will be sent back from base camp itself & no refund of fees will be given.. Trek leaders can spare an hour to check the fitness of trekkers at base camp by making 4 to 5 trekkers run at a time… Set a target & if achived gr8.. If not than… No option but to leave that trekker at base camp… I think this will help a lot…

    1. Hi Rishabh, indeed they are fooling themselves and not others. Many trekkers are suggesting that we turn trekkers around from the base camp. We have given a great deal of thought to sending trekkers back. But we have also learnt that this might not be right. Almost all trekkers reach the base camp after a long journey and are usually tired on the first day. We’re seen trekkers, no matter how fit, are not at the top of their games on the first day of the trek. So sending them back right there might not be a good way to assess them.

      But we’ll consider something around this. Thank you so much for putting thought into this!

  7. My suggestion would be, get some affiliation with local gyms in the cities from where you get maximum people. Some genuine gyms will be more than happy to affiliate with indiahikee as they would want people to explore fitness in multiple ways like trekking/hiking/cycling/running etc. Now, whenever a person signs up for a moderate-difficult trek, he/she should be sent to that affiliate where a trainer will take their assessment. The assessment will be decided by you guys. I am from Pune and I workout at CrossFit chakra. My gym will be more than happy to affiliate with you guys as we promote healthy living and trekking. This will help people to trek more and with a legit process in place where certified trainers are assessing the participants fitness, it’ll be easier for you guys. I don’t think there will be any money involved here , where you will have to pay some amount to the trainers/gym. If at all there isimey involved – you have a crazy fanbase and they would be many volunteers who can help you. The bottom line is – we need a certified person to check the fitness pre-booking of treks in order to minimize the risk.

    Sourabh K

    1. Hi Sourabh, I think your last line summed it up well. We need a few fitness experts teamed up with us.

      I don’t think affiliating ourselves with gyms will work, because of the sheer volume of trekkers we deal with. We have trekkers coming from all over India and all parts of the world. We see trekkers from the remotest parts of India! So anything location-based is very difficult to scale.

      But I’ll go with your final thought — we need fitness experts!

  8. Alternative fitness protocols like doing treks near their homes. Presently as a run up to VOF trek, I am doing Treks in Sahyadris which helped me and my friends joining me for the trek a lot.

  9. How about having an indiahikes fitness app? With gps mandatory. This would reduce the probability of people faking their fitness. Agreed that if someone wants to fake it, they can find a way.
    However it will also help create a fitness community, and their activities can be monitored around the year.

  10. Hey Swathi

    I did the Kuari trek last year with my kids and we had an amazing time. I am generally fit and work out / play sport at least 4-5 days a week.

    I however have a problem with a unidimensional view of proving ones fitness viz a run. I have a run a few 10k but I generally don’t like to run. Now a trek is a long endurance effort spread over 4-5 hours in a day or more. Have you considered other activities one can submit as proof of fitness as opposed to say a 5k time?

    It could be on an ergometer, cycling, or a sport. In fact I work with kettlebells and they help in core development which then aids in endurance and better stamina over a long trek.

    Just my thought. Can’t wait to sign up for my next trek. IH rocks.


    1. Hi Suneel, you raise a concern that many other trekkers have raised — that running is not the only way to assess one’s fitness. I agree with you. Swimming, cycling, HIIT work outs, there are lots of ways to get fit.

      The problem is that we don’t have a way to assess these other work outs. Running is the easiest, most accessible exercise for everyone. If trekkers do swim, cycle and have a way that can show us a proof of these things, then we don’t mind accepting that at all.

      Our end goal is straightforward — that a trekker must be fit enough for the trek.

      1. Hi Swathi, Since you already mentioned that you would not mind accepting other parameters of fitness, why don’t you include VO2 MAX, a Gold standard, in your criteria? I agree it may be a little too technical for many people but those who who wear smartwatches will find it a boon.

        I am 58, exercise regularly(both cardio and strength training) but hate running unless I absolutely have to. However, I love walking, especially uphill walking. My Fitbit Versa watch tells me that I have a VO2 MAX of 47-51, something considered excellent for my age.

        So, for those who can show such means, you should definitely take into consideration.

        Ram Mohan

  11. Hi
    I totally agree with Anand. A 10 km run does NOT ensure that a trekker will not have climbing. Multiple exercises and definitely a 20 mts test before the hike is a good idea.
    Taking diamox mandatorily will probably be a good idea too

  12. Hi Swati,
    How about having a fitness check at base camp? May be asking trekkers to run a km in 4 mins may help..
    You’ll also need to be strick and send more people back if they are struggling.


  13. For finding fraud in the banking world, we have extensively used historical data, modelling and predictions based on the model. Similarly, for finding fake fitness uploads, combine data from fitness uploads (distance, time of run, GPS status, running time, calories) and other fitness data like:
    1. body weight
    2. height
    3. age
    4. gender
    5. previous trek experience
    6. date of enrolment in the trek

    and try to find potentially unfit folks. These may be classified as true positives and false positives (who really faked it and others who did not fake it)

    For these folks, you could then start by asking for full body photographs, youtube records of the run, or doctor monitored run, or buddy certified fit ( if in a group). Also, let them know that they will be asked to run before the start of the trek at the pick up point.

    Of course, there could be a few who will be left based on the data and the prediction model. This will eventually be ironed out through iteration of the model.

    These should be enough to scare people off and have them upload real snapshots.

    1. Hi Markand, that’s a nicely detailed response. Thanks a lot, you have put a lot of thought into it. 🙂
      We do currently take the age, height, weight, gender and previous experience of the trekker. We also have the date of the trek they have enrolled for.

      But building a prediction system might not work for us because there’s too much scope for error there. One point you’ve made pricks my ears though — a buddy-certified system. Since we consider trekking a team sport and since we want trekkers to be more self-reliant, I think this is something that might work well. I’ve shortlisted that as an idea!

      Thanks a lot for putting time into this! 🙂

  14. Hi Swati,
    I can very well relate to the problem that you mentioned and its repurcussions on the entire group of trekkers who genuinely prepare for the trek.
    My suggestion is to conduct a mock trek test for each metro city by two or three Indian hikes agents/ or any volunteer if available and check the fitness level of a registered trekker before his trek date. This can be done for all the trekkers in one go who are about on go a trek within a months time.

    You can conduct this mock trek test in a gap of 15 days (twice a month) so that you can cover all the upcoming treks of a month and its registered members before hand and take a decision whether to allow him/her for the trek or not.

    This is just a raw may modifiy it as per your available resources,time and business needs.
    Happy Trekking

    1. Hi Mohammed, what you say is fool-proof. But we deal with over 20,000 trekkers a year! So it’s very difficult to actually implement it with all our trekkers. 🙁

  15. Just make them run 5kms. infront of you at the base as well. It should not be much difficult to find a small ground or open space to conduct such an activity.
    Tell them about this activity in advance with a warning that they might not be taken in the group if failed to do so.
    They should be made to understand that it’s for their own good.

  16. Sending a screenshot of one fine day running 5km under 35 mins is not a fool proof solution. I would suggest indiahikes put up a weekly or fortnight screenshot which should depict an active life everyday. I personally know people who have binged run only to make the screenshot. This should not be the case as it defeats the whole purpose of fitness.

    All the fitness apps store everyday data. Every day 3km-4km 15 days before the trek starts will be helpful for people to change their lifestyle and also get hold of their own breathe. Running everyday can only help them control their breathe.

    I would suggest Indiahikes to increase the Single screenshot to a fortnight data screenshot which would show things like No of steps covered per day, workout time etc.

    1. Hi Shakti, you make good sense. I think we’ll consider this seriously and try and implement it. I’ll throw the idea to our trek coordinators and see what they have to say! 🙂

  17. Dear Indiahikes,

    I appreciate your concern. Here are my thoughts (in addition to the mentioned above):

    1. Everybody should be made to carry their stuff on their backs for the first two days at least. Make it very clear on your website.
    By making above optional, you are signalling that even if you are not fit to carry your stuff, we will take care of it.

    If I remember/ know correctly, YHAI does not offer any off-loading option. I may be wrong on this.

    2. As above comments have indicated, there are a variety of ways to gain fitness. You might want to adopt a policy of requesting (randomly selected or all) trekkers to perform that activity at the base camp itself (except swimming of course). For example, if I have reported that I do skipping, then you might want to ask me to skip, or run etc. You will have to take into account the terrain, the fact that people have traveled for long times.. But seems like most foolproof thing to me. That should make it immediately clear “कौन कितने पानी में”

    3. You have trade-off to make. Making fitness negotiable, you get more trekkers. Are you willing to forgo extra revenue?

    1. Hi Ambrish, we rarely look at revenue when it comes to this. If we really did worry about that, we wouldn’t have introduced a fitness criteria to begin with.

      Most people don’t realise that we don’t NEED to bring in a fitness criteria, or worry much about trekkers’ fitness. We can manage on treks with unfit trekkers. Its for their OWN experience and their fellow trekkers’ experience that we insist on it so much!

      So revenue isn’t even a thought here.

      As for the fitness assessment at the base camp, we have given it a thought, but it isn’t too viable. Like you said, trekkers are usually tired after travelling all the way. Making them exercise there is not fair to them, and it isn’t good for them either because they should be resting as much as they can before starting a trek.

      AS for carrying a backpack, we encourage trekkers as much as we can to carry their own backpacks. But there are lots of trekkers who are not that fit or who are not comfortable with the idea. So they do offload backpacks. Don’t think we can remove that option altogether…

  18. Trekkers should be required to physically show in person their running stats on top of the prior screen shots that get sent. If members don’t provide the required check-ins they should be turned away. There were at least half a dozen individuals on a trek I did that did not run or workout and really struggled causing delays, and some of them had previous injuries they tried to hide so they could trek. Another option is for more difficult hikes, to require group meet ups in some of the major cities if possible.
    If individuals have a BMI higher than 30 or so, they should either have proof of having done a previous hike or a note from the doctor stating that it’s okay. Having a final health check-in organized by India hikes would also help as a last buffer.

  19. Hey Swati,

    If you ask me I am someone who is trying to be in shape and achive the fitness target by running on treadmill & cycling.

    And when I am on treadmill I keep the Nick App mode as indoor. So, I don’t see it fair to conclude that one is faking it.

    Here is a suggestion which might give you better batch of trekkers is by seeing their app stats log!!

    Also, the idea of uploading the run screenshot before 20 days.. In my case I booked the trek 20-25 days back and have been working out for the trek since then… The best I could do till yeaterday was pure walking(no jog) with 10.5 pace in 50mins… And my target is to complete it in 40 min.. which will be done by this Sunday, as I am able to do it in 45 now… So my plan is to upload my geniune run time a week prior to my trek.

    So here is what I suggest, when we will be joining you.. the trek leader has to ask us to show our running app stats log (in my case Nick Run Club App). All the runs they have been to.. the screenshot that they have uploaded will be in that log.. if not then you know he/she has attempted to fool IndiaHikes with a fake run.. 🙂

    Pooja Shetty
    (13th-18th Aug’18 – Hampta Batch)

    1. Hi Pooja, you seem to have registered for a trek rather late! Hope you have been working on your fitness everyday! 🙂

      I think what you say holds good — to ask trekkers to share their sequence of runs at the base camp. So we’ll know whether they really ran or if it was a one-time thing! I’m going to shortlist this idea and share it with the IH team! Thanks!

      And have a good trek! The trek is going to be full of flowers at this time of the year! 🙂

  20. “We ask all our trekkers (irrespective of their BMI) to send a fitness proof at least 20 days before they go on their trek. This is by recording their run on a running app and sending us a screenshot”.

    I appreciate your concern about the trekkers and regular reminders about fitness level.

    And you people (india hikes) suggested to download nike run app for proof. I have also thought about the flaws in the app like ” i can go on my bike and record the distance. It is possible to fool you in this way”. But if i do that, i know, finally i have to suffer in the trek.

    please note that i have never trekked the Himalayas and planning trek this winter.

    Now i have a suggestion.

    Most of the cities, i have found that, you have a representative or office. Let the trekkers report at your place (nearer to their city) at least two months before the trek and show the current fitness. Then, let them again show the improvement after one month (before a month of start of the trek). If any one could not show the improvement in fitness level, cancel their trek program and ask them to try for the next upcoming trek program (of course they have to prove their fitness level). In this way only serious passionate and fit trekkers can be selected.


  21. Hi,
    I’ll be 39 in the next 3 days, I am 5’8 Tall and weigh 82 Kgs. Have been thinking to do a trek for quite sometime now, and then came a post on FB from India Hikes. I visited their website, and would have read almost every corner of their website pages, not just to be sure to trek with them, but to read and understand, as to what do they expect from a Human Being to be fully ready.
    First I started preparing myself, not from the aspect of bringing my BMI, which as per India Hikes was 27.9 to at least 2 points below, but to increase my stamina. Anyone who sees me, tells me that I am fit, but was I, asked the question to my own self. And then began to Walk, Jog, do cross training with the help of my Gym Instructor, who also eventually thinks that I can be ready in a months time, as I am scheduled for the Hampta Pass Trek beginning September.
    So purposely I feel, that if you’re faking it, you’re making yourself a burden to the entire crew, as well as cheating yourself.
    I am confidant that I would be able to provide my fitness proof to India Hikes very soon, a genuine one, and will pass the Hampta Pass with flying colours.
    As I feel I am starting a relationship with India Hikes!! Which can’t begin with a Lie!!
    Thanks, and all the best to myself, and all the future trekkers!!

  22. Hi,
    Before I start I would like to inform that I have been on two himalayan treks upto date.
    First being sandakphu -phalut(not with indiahikes) and the second was brahmatal(my first experience with indiahikes) .
    I remember on my last trek people talking about how they never gave a fitness proof and it was not checked or taken into consideration.
    Regardless of them submitting their fitness test, they were allowed to hike.
    Results being alot beginners(unprepared)and alot of stops, Being my first experience with indiahikes my only complaint was alot of small breaks which broke the flow of the hike.
    Therefore I’m glad this issue has come up and is being taken seriously.
    I would suggest that a small video clip in the beginning and at the end of the session, reporting the time and the tracking details(all the details including the heart rate,etc), is presented. This might ensure a more genuine report.

  23. I have come across many who struggle but they seem to have done and followed the fitness regime as for IH guidelines. I have one suggestion – the running and other fitness regime recommendation should primarily be in a rough terrain and strictly outside gym rooms. As otherwise it become similar to “vehicle mileage under best case conditions” which is never practical in a terrain like Himalayas.

  24. Hi Swathi,

    I belong to India’s independence year cohort of births. I have done few treks in Himalayas and elsewhere, latest one being VoF and Hemkund Sahib a year ago.

    I follow a 3-pronged approach for fitness (physical and mental) – yoga (daily), brisk walk (3 days/wk) and strength training (3 days/wk). I find it very useful to me.

    As Mohammed suggested, you may organize a mock trek test for your registered trekkers before their trek date.

    I am also keen to do a trek with IH, preferably ABC next year.

    Gajanan Shastri

  25. Trekking needs both mental and physical endurance. Bollywood movies shows trekking as a picnic activities where anyone can jump in without prior training. I suggest 30days before the trek, a whatsapp group should be formed where each trekker should daily whatsapp their progress like weight, workout etc. This will create peer pressure and motivate each member to workout. The trek leader should monitor the progress and if he suspects some false info he should insist on a certificate from local gym. Initially indiahikes might face criticism and lose customers but in the long run indiahikes will emerge as most trusted partner.

  26. Faking is easy, to participate in an ultra run this even organizers asked me for a gpx file of any marathon. I googled, it’s easily to create a fake gpx file. Nevertheless, I ran my first marathon just to get the official timing certificate to participate in the Ultra run. Its a Catch -22 situation here in your case. The only way out is educating the trekkers, which I believe you guys are already doing it. Put out an article on the home page, permanent, with live examples of what happens otherwise.

  27. There is a famous quote, by Steve Ballmer (I think) which goes – “‘Behavior’ is based on incentives”.

    What we are trying to do is to change behavior. This, as you have already gathered, is not easy. In my view Technology has a limited role to play and the average Indian mind is super efficient in by-passing technology. We are socially wired to short circuit processes :(.

    So taking cue from the quote above, here is an idea – deploy a ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’. In other words an ‘incentive’ and a ‘disincentive’.

    First, Define a ‘fit’ trekker in non-medical terminology. Pretty much as you have described the problem – For E.g. A trekker who does not end up using a guide all on his/her own; who finishes the days trek in a time as stipulated by the trek lead etc etc. You could also define a ‘non-fit trekker’ in a similar manner. Give many examples of both. This will help hikers understand what is expected and not result in them trying to game targets based on medical terms. Once the expectations are clear and the hikers sign on to them we move on to the next step

    Secondly, fix an incentive. These could be financial and non-financial AND also current and future. For e.g if you are a fit trekker then you have a 5% discount on your next trek. Disincentives are a little tricky and I have seen that those that work are largely monetary in nature. For e.g. a Self Certified Fitness deposit to paid at time of booking and to be returned (along with with a 5% discount on your next trek) if you are trek fit. Deposit to be forfeited if you are unfit.

    The key is to make everything simple and transparent. Communicate (over communicate)as to why IH is doing this and also why is this important to the trekker.

    Hope this helps.

  28. Though I feel 5 kms in 45 minuets is a very good start towards an easy or moderate trek but difficult trek should be approached after you have at least two easy or moderate treks under your belt along with a good timing for a 5 kms run like 30-35 mins. Plus evaluation should be done across various variables like BMI, timings, oxyreadings, heart rate and trek experiences. Most importantly registering enthusiasts should realise it’s an opportunity to be true to yourself and evaluation panel since a healthy body will not only hike and trek well but also will also deal better in conditions such as altitude sickness , breathing irregularities and trauma.

  29. Fitness in high altitudes is very important to be able to fully enjoy the trekking. However, my drill is simple. One week before every trek I go for long morning walks or evening walks. Thats all that I require. Cannot run due to lumber.

    But more important than fitness is mandatory education of all these young and old trekkers and especially newbies to “NOT TO LITTER”. If they are able to bring their garbage back to base camp from where it is disposed off by India Hikes or Trekking Organizers, nothing like that. I love mountains and I love our Himalayas, want them to be pristine and free from pollutants.

  30. Hey Swathi,

    This is a genuine concern. I have personally faced this on my last trek ( Chanderkhani ) with YHAI – though it is not a very tough trek, there were about 6 people who were sent back or themselves decided to return.

    Thing is that people only see the beautiful picture and think of it as a vacation. It could be fatal – 3 people died during my first trek. I have been wanting to do Stok Kangri but have postponed it twice – once after reading Indiahikes blog and second when I personally felt while I ran half marathon in Leh that it requires more fitness. Honestly – I have not even managed to trust anyone except YHAI for a trek in 10 years.

    It is a good thing that more people are arranging the adventure but precisely that is the problem – just by classification of the trek as moderate or difficult does not give sense to a person who has never been to a trek. There are a lot ways to get fit.. Problem is not that .. problem is that people need to understand what they are getting into…

    The way to do is :
    a. You should also explain the difficulty – like the Stok Kangri trek blog.. it really explains the issue.
    b. Put a penalty that if we do not find you fit enough – we will not allow on the trek without refund or say 50% refund. Put measurable criteria to asses fitness. Be reasonable.
    c. BMI is not the right crietria.. People who do strength training are bulkier. may have higher BMI… Do not allow close registration .. Registration should get closed 3 months before for first time trekker. Experienced trekker can do registration a day before to.. Like someone doing the trek for the first time should not be able to register at last minute – there is no way for him or her to get fit.
    d. Also – put the difficult pictures along with the beautiful aspects of the trek.

    Its like why dont people eat healthily – they are not able to imagine the side effects.. Make them realize it.


  31. I faced the same problem during my trek at Bali pass organised by college hiking group. They organised conditioning rounds for 1 month for 5 days of the week even though I managed it passed somehow but during the trek unable to keep up with heat.
    It was my first trek so I was excited and didn’t bother too much about the conditioning at all but when we were in the mountains, I was lagging behind the group and only thing come in mind “why I come in this hell in the first place?” but when we come back and saw photos of that trek only thing I felt is pride about what I did, how I managed to get through because we don’t any options there, you have to do it one way or another.
    Only advice for people who want to go on the trek, it will be life change experience for you and you don’t want to spoil by lagging behind people.
    If you are newcomer before aiming for high just start with short treks first.

  32. I think you should keep it simple. The fitness criteria has been provided: – it’s up to each individual to take this seriously in whatever way they believe they can perform. Like some here have said, swimming, cycling or trekking rather than just 5km runs or even previous treks with Indiahikes. If you want people to take this seriously, money in the form of a fine or charge for sending someone back down with a guide, could be incentive enough to take things seriously (It’s a deposit that will be changed to your credit card, make it big enough to feel the pinch and use that money towards some local charity?) and may be have a photo shoot in the beginning of every trekker and publish all those that have failed completing their treks…. I wouldn’t want to be on that list when googled!!… the questions now is will you lose clientele or business because of this, may be those who are not serious about trekking – so Yes.
    And if someone did fail but comes on a second trek (He should be encouraged not discouraged!!) and does well, his image is removed!!! Just a thought… Or do it the other way around. Those who complete have their image’s on indiahikes (Which they can link to their Instagram or Facebook, incentive to complete a trek…) and those who don’t or fail are removed…

  33. Perhaps you should partner with fitness clubs (at least the reputed ones) and ask them to conduct a test and certify. But, as we know, in India any paper can be faked, so this is also not foolproof.

    Another idea is, be very strict about fitness and give everyone a test before starting the trek. Anyone failing will be immediately sent back, with a refund of their money minus some costs ( you will have to budget for a certain percentage of people failing the test). They will bear the risk of having to re-book/reschedule flights etc. You will be unpopular for a while but people will eventually fall in line. One important point, the fitness test has to be absolutely transparent with no leeway given to even trek leaders to make exceptions under any circumstance. A yo-yo test is a good one.

  34. Hi Swathi,

    There is an app called “Sports Tracker”,Trek organiser can follow the trekker.
    Treak organiser should have this app and follow the trekker.
    Trekker has option to share there activity to “followers,public, facebook,twitter”.
    With this trekker’s can’t manipulate anything, and full details available to trek organiser.

    But in this Trekker can fool,if others run on behalf of treker. Option to upload photo also with this able to check whether trekker is really run.

    Another level check as others mentioned , ask them to run in base camp.


  35. Swati, one idea is coming to my mind which can solve this problem to a large extent. You must have been having data base of trekkers who trekked previously with Indiahikes . Nowadays you can find such trekkers in almost all major cities. You can select a few such persons and can nominate to verify the fitness of new trekkers from that particular city. His services can be recognised by writing a thanks mail after the trek.
    I am a Sixty year young person from Jaipur and recently completed Roopkund trek with Abhishek in June 2018 wining Trekfit award. I can voluntarily do this job in Jaipur.
    Mani Ram Poonia

    1. Hello Mr. Poonia,
      Hats off to you on your fitness level! You inspire me 🙂
      We do have a significant number of trekkers in a lot of cities. We can seek their help to either form a buddy system like somebody else suggested or to verify an occasional run.

  36. I read this and I must say that my 2015 completed trek to Kedarkantha was very different from all those in my group. I was flummoxed to find that a few were actually enjoying themselves, had the stamina to go on side treks, were taking pictures, were able to take quality decisions and be relaxed. While the whole time I hogged resources and cursed everyone and everything. Sheer willpower to complete treks is very taxing mentally.

    Adequate fitness on treks takes the experience to a different level for sure. A buddy system to address and develop fitness for treks would work well. I take this example of which I use currently. You may want to have a look at their social setup, photo updates, and group motivating blogs to address this pertinent issue.

    At a simpler level if trek participants from a city could support and validate each other it may also help to generate a genuine indicator of fitness levels.

    1. Hi Ketan,
      I am glad you appreciate the role that fitness plays in making your trek enjoyable 🙂
      A buddy system is great idea. It’s good to know you have others supporting you especially if the person is just starting off on becoming fit.

  37. Safe to assume that these faked fitness reports are from first time (Himalayan) trekkers. Correct? Because no sane experienced trekker will fake their fitness reports just to get on a trek. They are well aware of the agony they will go through if they are unfit.
    My solution: Create a video highlighting the need for trekkers to be honest about their fitness levels. Send it to them soon after they sign up for a trek. Call them after a week and make them understand why you’re so adamant on fitness requirements. After that, keep on mailing them articles which emphasize the need for being fit on treks.
    In short, create a 1:1 correlation in the trekker’s mind between being fit and having a safe, enjoyable trek.

  38. Dear Swati, faking in any form, anywhere is wrong. I totally agree and subscribe to your views. However I will request you guys to keep some part warm in your heart for people who may not be able to do even 4 km in an hour. I am by and large an individual trekker unless family or friends are joining me. I do trekking for my love of the mountains, the serene and immensely pretty views that inspire me and fill me with positivity and inspiration. You should perhaps have a few groups where the not so very fit can join and enjoy the awe inspiring beauty of our mountains and valleys, treks you believe they can accomplish. Make these treks no less regarded or less sought for since there is a breed of guys who would love to do it for being one with mother nature, right BMI or not.

    1. Hi Anup,
      This is worth considering. Once people see the beauty of the mountains on an easy trek, it might be motivation enough to start getting fit for future treks 🙂

    2. I am 52 years old with BMI Of 27.5 but I have been able to do Kedarkantha and pangarchulla even coming amongst the first five to reach the summit. Bmi should not be the sole criteria. I Wanted to do the Valley of flowers trek with India hikes end August but had to book thru another agent as my freinds BMI were 30 and 32. Many Indians are not fit but they love the mountains. I think the best way to accommodate these people is to divide the group into 2 groups.. Fast and Slow.. and assign guides separately for each group. The Slow group may start earlier.

    3. I agree with Anup Sharma. Not everyone can run for 5 kms in 35 mins but still they complete a trek without any difficulty and in a good time. As trekking is the only option to get close to nature/ mountains and not everyone can afford or enjoy private expensive treks, there should be some consideration for (generally fit but not fitting in IH fitness criterion ) these people.
      Could it be special batch/group/additional charge for extra resources or anything that will allow these people to enjoy mountains and not being compared to those who are fastest in the group!

  39. Dear Swati,

    Firstly I apologise on behalf of the integrity of some of our hikers ( the ones who fake fitness etc )

    May I suggest that 1 day or half a day is added to the beginning of all treks where the required fitness of the trekker is assessed by the Trek leader at the base camp. For e.g. run 5 km in 35 min / 45min, etc. apart from O2 levels and document checks.

    This must be communicated in advance to all trekkers who have signed up for that particular trek. In the event a trekker is unable to meet the fitness test criteria , taking due consideration of the level of difficulty of the terrain at the base camp, altitude of the base camp, travel inertia etc, the trek leader takes a call whether a trekker participates in the trek or goes home with a forfeit of fees.



  40. My two cents –
    1. Pl. indicated the Level od toughness on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the though one.
    2. Proof of prior treks (even if done from other institutions) should be demanded.
    3. Once the person teachers the designated trekking place, pl arrange for a necessary fitness test. If they fail, they fail in the fitness test they will end up loosing their money and the chance to partake in the trek.

  41. It is very difficult when one lies about their fitness. There is no way for Indiahikes to find this out until they begin trekking. What I would suggest is when people apply for a trek – your itinery should boldly specify that only persons who are fit should do the trek – and then say ” PLEASE BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR HEALTH, AS YOU WOULD DELAY OTHER TREKKERS FROM GOING ON THEIR TREKS, AND THIS WILL BE UNFAIR TO THEM. THEIR WOULD BE TIME DELAYS AND THE COST INVOLVED IN TAKING THE UNFIT BACK TO BASE CAMP.THIS SLOWS DOWN THE WHOLE PROCESS.
    I do not run, but I do a lot of walking daily.

  42. BMI (BMI= body weight/height to the power 2 ) for start is not at all informative about one’s fitness since there are people with big bones and hence their weight will alter the overall BMI index.
    One suggestion I proposed in addition to the many great suggestions I have read in this page is to inform trekkers that if they don’t fit the fitness test just at base camp the full amount of their payment will be charged with no refund. This will not completely stop frauds but at least will reduce it significantly.
    Other suggestion
    for first-timers, only easy or easy-moderate treks are allowed unless utterly fit and again will lose their
    money if proven otherwise at basecamp fitness test.

    1. Hi Hameed, Ashur, Sekar,
      Fitness test at the base camp seems to be coming up quite often here. It does seem like a foolproof way of testing fitness. Knowing that this will happen will be a dis-incentive for someone to fake their fitness. We should hopefully not need to get to forfeiture of trek fee for too many trekkers.

  43. Hi,
    Submitting fitness proof is our good selves. Faking is crime according to me. Faking fitness proof is equal to risking our own life. Hence I suggest India hikes to develop app by you own and give access after registration. By that before they run they should log in with credentials and all settings (GPS on etc) controlled so that they cannot fake any fitness proof.
    One more suggestion to India Hikes is to ask upload fitness proof every week. So that you can ensure trekkers fitness. Your fitness criteria should be vary trek to trek.

    1. Hi Purushothama,
      Our fitness criteria varies for easy, moderate and difficult treks. You raise a good point about getting fitness proofs from trekkers on a regular basis. That way we can monitor if they’re improving. Like someone else here mentioned, it also becomes difficult to fake daily or weeks screenshots.

  44. I have been on several treks and noticed that the fad of trekking has caught up so much that one completely ignores the regiment required to have a pleasant experience. I am a marathon runner and long distance cyclist myself and despite that have found treks physically draining. So wonder how some of these folks with no prior information land up in such situations of complete misery. My advice would be:
    – for moderate + treks : ensure the client participates in a 10k run/walk and produces a certificate (from the organiser to authenticate the claim) not more than 3 months prior to the trek. Personal data can be fudged but third party data is difficult to manipulate.
    – for high intensity to strenuous treks : mandatory half marathon or atleast 15k ( or cycling/triathalon) certificate. These events test your endurance and are a good indicator of fitness level. Even if these guys can’t run then they can walk these events. But participation in an event adds an element of stress and rigor which is similar to what we experience in a trek.
    – low intensity treks : mere 5k runs at your own pace and convenience would do.
    These checks are for the benefit of the trekker so they can evaluate their own capability and take a call.
    Unless you implement some authentic way of establishing fitness test, there is no other way to track this.

    1. Hi Deepa,
      Getting a certificate from a run is a great way to establish fitness. Do you think we should do this only for first time trekkers or for experienced ones as well?

  45. There are few suggestions from my side;
    1. Fitness Events:
    In many cities in India, Fitness groups/running groups are already existing. I think India hikes can give a call for volunteers to start India hikes fitness groups in local areas and i think there are plenty people out there already doing and would be interested to join few more people. This can also be done using some group runs using android apps like Endomondo, Strava, etc. The newly registered trekkers will join the group for weekly fitness activities in groups (may be over weekends) and volunteer can report their fitness levels to India hikes. With technologies in mobile, it is not that difficult now a days.
    This will have another benefit of India hikes increasing fitness awareness in people and contributing to society wellness in one more way.

    2. Existing marathons:
    This can be another option given to participants if they cannot attend the fitness events, they can participate in marathons in their locality with timing chip and can share the link to their timing certificate with India hikes. (This is already done for many big marathon events like SCMM Mumbai marathoin, they ask for timing certificate of any such marathon as a qualifying fitness criteria to participate in SCMM marathon) Either India hikes can organize such marathons as social cause or trekkers can find out on their own any existing marathons, if any.

    3. Gyms:
    If a trekker is unable to do any of above, he can visit India hikes pre-approved fitness instructors in gyms in specific cities, where he can give a small fitness test for 30 mins. Gyms can help India hikes as part of their own promotion as people will visit there, probably accounting for more business for gyms.

    4. FItness test at base camp:
    If trekker fails to do anything from above, he can appear a small fitness test at base camp itself. But in this case, if he fails there, he cannot continue the trek without any refund/small refund.

    Everyone, Please share your views/comments/improvements in these ideas. Happy Trekking! 🙂

  46. HI There,

    I have a few ideas as to how you can minimize unfit trekkers in a group.

    1. As many have suggested, 1 screenshot is definitely not enough. Please make sure that you asked people who’ve booked to send in anywhere between 5 to 10 screenshots.. That way you can verify that each of them have been taken on a different date.
    2. Also, no treadmill running screenshots. Running on Treadmills and running on Solid ground are two completely different things. You can make it mandatory that runs should be done outside.
    3. Video Proof of strength and mobility: Make it mandatory for everyone to send in videos of doing 10 – 15 pushups, 15 squats (shoulder/chest and leg strength can be gauged here) and some core exercise like 1 min plank… or 20 crunches or leg raises….. You can also ask for skips, or yo yo running or anything under a stipulated time limit to check for cardiovascular fitness. The SAME can be checked by the trek leader at basecamp to further eliminate and doubts
    4. Someone pointed out gym affiliations in major cities… this is great idea. Would work perfectly in metros…. and for people who come from cities where u have no affiliation, you can ask them to come a day earlier to Base camp city and have it done at an affiliated fitness center there. (Eg Manali for Hampta Pass trek)

    You guys are definitely headed in the right direction. Yes i can imagine, this might affect Revenue. but as you said, a group of fit trekkers are easier to handle and the experience will be better for everyone.

    Prateek Pissay

  47. Hi Swati,
    After reading your email, my first hand experience of dealing with unfit trekkers flashed in my mind. People who fake their fitness are a burden to the whole group, as explained by others, they whine and complain about everything and curse everyone through out the duration of the trek.
    My point is that, there is no such thing like “easy trek in the himalayas”, my advice to others is whichever trek you are planning to do, first analyse your fitness and then proceed.
    As for Indiahikes, your team is doing a great job in creating awareness about such an important issue. There is only one thing I would like to add that, for people who are registering for any trek just before 15 days prior to the trek date, there should be a mandatory core fitness test at Base may be as suggested above like running or a circuit of bodyweight exercises to test their cardiovascular strength.
    Because in my opinion the ones who have not planned for a trek earlier are most likely to fake their fitness certificate.
    And I would like to request to the people that don’t fool yourselves by faking your fitness as this is not an examination that you can pass by copying someone else’s answer,
    You are just making others experience horrible.

    Happy trekking,

  48. I read your article on “faking their fitness”.
    Some comments:
    I did my first trek with Indiahikes in January 2018. To begin with I chose a small duration trek. So I did Nag Tibba, with my friend.
    Me and my friend are 53 years old and it was our first trek of life.
    I am doing regular brisk walk for many years. When I registered for trek and there was pre-requisite for fitness proof, I did my calculations with help of GPS. I could walk (not jog or run) 4.5 KM in 45 minutes. In spite of hard workup I couldnot achieve beyond this. I emailed my screenshot to indiahikes coordinator and he told me to try to achieve 5 km in same period.
    Anyway, I did complete my trek. And to tell you something, four persons of half of my age were not able to do that. (In fact, they did not try also to climb last elevation).
    So it should not be very stringent criteria for fitness. You have to consider other parameters also.

    1. That’s correct Suhas. 10-12 min/km is an ideal walk time to cover up 5km. I am sure even the young lads at IH can’t walk at the speed of 9 min/km. As an Urban Planner, we specify 10 min walking distance as 800m which is 12.5 min/km. Which brings us to the question “why participants fake their fitness criteria”?. Is it on purpose or is it the prerequisite fitness criteria that need re-evaluation and be more realistic. Perhaps, Swati can explain how they have come up with the required criteria.

      It would also be beneficial to the trekker to know the timeline it may take to meet up with the current specified fitness limits if one were to begin training say at 10 min/km and catch up to 7 min/km. I can well imagine it to be around 6-9 months of continuous practice.

      A reality check is required both by IH & the trekker.

  49. My suggestions are as follows:
    Meet at the base station the day before trek start day.
    Conduct a fitness test along with other formalities i.e introduciton, advices etc.
    You will find difficult to get a ground in the hilly regions to take the running test.
    I am sure you will get a land mark like temple or any other thing on a nearby hillock. Ask the trekkers to climb to the temple and get back to the start point well with in a time cut off set by the guide.
    Those who pass, are fit to trek the next day. Those who fail, should try to get fit and apply next time.
    Climbing is the real test as that what we are going to do during the next few days. And it is easy to conduct at the base station.

  50. First of all, I’d say that people use a lot of different apps. One is Nike run app. It’s a good tracker. But I myself, have seen that you can edit distance and speed using that. So it isn’t ideal. Strava would be better.
    Secondly , runs smoothly be tracked with GPS on. This gives you the route, which is clouded yellow, green and orange depending on the speed at which you run at that particular moment. A complete yellow loop means you modified the statistics.
    Lastly, a disclaimer should be issued saying that people who sign up for the trek will have to give a fitness test at the basecamp. A test comprising running , hill running, aerobics, etc, with a given benchmark for passing. Could be carried out. So people who cheat initially will think twice before signing up. In case they fail the fitness test, they know they have to return from there

    1. Hi Ganga,
      Thank you for your suggestions. We have tested the loopholes in the Nike app. We’ll try out Strava as well.
      Having a fitness test at the base camp might make people take this more seriously and prepare for the trek.

  51. I would suggest:
    1. Conduct a fitness test on site on day of arrival. If not, fit, send them away, with no refund!
    2. First time trekkers, to get a prior trekker’s referral.

    1. Hi Suryaprakash,
      Quite a few of you have suggested a fitness test at a base camp. That seems like a foolproof way of going about this.
      Trekker’s referral might end up restricting trekking to a select group of people but it’s worth considering for people with a high BMI or health conditions.

  52. One way to eliminate fitness is asking to upload daily, weekly and monthly screenshots of the workout. Workout need not be just a run, could be a combination of run, cycling, climbing stairs or a local trek as well. Most would fake one day, but to fake for a month, people might rather run.

    Also, a lot of times trek leader is not strict in sending people back. This leads to unfit trekkers slogging. Maybe sending unfit trekkers back as a strict protocol might help.

    Run is the not the only fitness needed for a difficult parts of a trek. People have to be mentally fit as well. I have seen really fit people lost confidence after a slide in rain, ice. I would suggest a general training on day1 on how to walk on difficult terrain, what not to do and the risks associated, like what can happen holding a walking stick wrong, what can go wrong wearing a poncho in wind, cotton socks, the list goes on. Honestly, we didn’t have a clue in previous treks till we encountered a scenario and figured it out ourselves.

    1. Hi Subramanian,
      Having an orientation for trekkers before the trek begins about the points you have mentioned here is a great idea! They remind me of my own first trek, where without the Trek Leader’s instructions about the right way to ascend and descent, I might have ended injuring myself.

  53. I have done Kashmir great lakes with. India hikes and strictly followed the fitness instructions. Although I had done few solo high altitude trek with my boyfriend. Pin Bhaba roopkund was one of the most difficult treks. But I never underestimated Kashmir great lakes treks. As I believe every trail have their difficulty and uniqueness. Therefore after logging in for Kashmir great lakes I had followed fitness routine. And it’s really helped me while I was on trek and because of that I got the best trekker award, which is q great achievement for me. As I feel more of me when I trek. Thanks for India hikes for keep sending such helpful informations. I am really greatful.

    1. hi Monika, we, a group of 5 people, are going for KGL trek starting 6th of August 2018. is it possible to take your inputs and suggestions.. we were looking for someone who has already done this trek.

    2. Hi Monika,
      It’s wonderful to read about your experience. This is exactly why we want our trekkers to be fit – so that they enjoy their trek more instead of being exhausted by the time they reach the campsite.

  54. Lets make it simple. We all know seeing is believing. We can not trust people especially in India.
    India hike can do one thing, they can perform test to check fitness of trekker at base camp. Test will be same activity which is a fitness criteria for that particular trek. e.g. if as proof of fitness trekker need to cover 5 kms in 40 min and for which trekker has already submitted fitness proof on India Hike website then trekker should pass this test at base camp. In case of failure trekker should not be allowed to take that trek and money paid for that trek shall not be refunded.

    India hike can highlight this mandatory requirement on their website so that before booking for trek people are aware of this stringent requirement and they will not have any chance in future for complaint in case they get rejected.

  55. Hi Swathi,

    I have registered for Dayara Bugyal trek which is happening in September. This is going to be my first trek in Himalayas and also with IH. I have done multiple treks in Sahyadris before which are in range of altitude of 2700ft to 3400ft. I consider myself as fit having an active lifestyle which includes running, jogging & walking. I make it a point to run/jog 5kms everyday which I am able to finish in 35-40mins. Still, I am not confident about what if my body doesn’t cope up in higher altitude as I have never been on such altitude before.
    I feel that as a company who specializes in organizing himalayan treks you can also assist people in their fitness regime once they register for a trek. Make it mandatory to register for a trek atleast 2 months before and then for those 2 months send daily work-out reminders and repeatedly ask them to share the progress through any fitness app. Depending on the difficulty level of trek the work-out combination may vary. These work-out can be a mix of various aerobics such as running, walking, swimming etc. or anything you consider to be important. This can include a diet chart too. The reminders could be in the form of daily notifications or mails. Eventually, people who are not serious about their fitness will understand that doing this is out of their league and they may drop out. I understand that this will effect you financially but also by doing this you are saving on your logistics of bringing them back to base camp if they are not able to cope up.
    Also, for a first timer like me I will feel much more confident in my trek if I m following your guidance religiously as it is coming from the experts.

    1. Hi Parul,
      Having a date cut off for registration does make sense. It ensures trekkers have adequate time to prepare.
      Coming to your Dayara Bugyal trek, add planks, squats and stair climbing to your exercise routine. These exercises will build your core and lower body strength and help you while ascending and descending. You can use this fitness chart as a guide.

  56. I have two suggestions:

    1. There is a network of nike and other run clubs in metro and some tier II cities. These could be leveraged to certify the physical run with minimum investment. An IH fitness leader could be hired and placed at these run clubs to further validate the proof of the run.

    2. To conduct the run as part of pre-trek by adding a day to the itinerary. Assuming bases for most treks would be Dehradun, Srinagar, Chandigarh and the likes. This would cut the problem at the nip.

    Generally speaking and judging by the number of groups IH has on each slope, I dont think you have a base volume problem so it would be possible to cut out a few who dont qualify the above tests at the nth hour. A percentage of payment could be kept from those who dont qualify the test. This would help cover costs for additional day of the trek added to the itinerary. Lastly, pre-requisite of 5km in 35mins for tougher end of treks does not seem fair. People have different capabilities, some of my friends struggle to run but have summited DKD (Uttarkashi), top filter for selection should still be prior experience in alpine trekking.

    These ideas are the intellectual property of Nikhil Sinha.

  57. I see a few suggestions that say it’s not fair to judge faking based on the fact that some people run indoors on treadmill. I, on the other hand run outdoors, but I prefer not to carry or strap on anything including cellphones and music players… I do it only for the 3 or 4 logs I may have to upload for proof on a trek, but not otherwise… i prefer to disconnect from all technology at least during my runs…
    So, my question… How can you rely on technology to provide proof…? A physical test at the basecamp becomes necessary to ensure fitness… but even that adds cost because the trek stretches by one day at least…

    1. Hi Abhi,
      Quite a few of you have suggested a fitness test at the base camp. This seems like a logical thing to do. But you are right about the additional time and cost involved. It does give us food for thought though.

  58. Do a cardio – strength test at the base camp itself. It will save the hassle of turning back the trekker with an IH staff. You can plan the itinerary keeping this in mind. It may add half a day extra to the total duration of the trek, but will ensure that the rest of the trek is with people who have a ‘decent / desired’ fitness level.
    Knowing that there would be an on-spot fitness test perhaps will gear everyone to prepare well in advance. No one would like to be turned back on Day 01 itself, hopefully!

  59. Hi
    I hv enrolled for VOF trek
    I m 56 years
    I may not be able to run.. However, i m doing around 5kms walk.. At times walking for 10kms

  60. As an organisation, your first priority is to safeguard yourself from any legal tangles if someone from your trek meets with a fatality due to improper fitness. A declaration saying that they are in a fit condition and understand the risks of the trek is more than enough. Obviously that does not mean that you stop your practice of doing a background check on their fitness, but fact remains, if you don’t accept their fitness claims and bar them from the trek, they will just find another trek company to take them.
    My two cents, stop losing sleep over it, if they are enthusiastic trekkers, they understand the risks if they are not, well, it may well be their last trek. You are covered either ways legally.

    1. Hi Tanay,
      Thank you for your concern. Our trekkers do agree on terms and conditions which specify that they will prepare for a trek. We are covered legally in that manner. However, we do not want the trek experience of a group to take a hit because of a few unfit trekkers.

  61. While my suggestion involves some additional effort on IH’s side, perhaps it’ll be worth it? This can also be considered a team-building activity well before the trek. Say, a month before the trek (let’s start with the location Bangalore), let one coordinator with IH meet people from BLR at say, Cubbon or Lal Bagh and let’s everybody run 5km. The coordinator should observe closely who is lagging behind. Absences from this will only earn the trekker a negative point.

    1. Hi Janani,
      That’s a great suggestion. This will also give trekkers a realistic view of their fitness and they’ll still have a month to get back on track.

  62. You could go for something resembling a yo-yo test. And set fitness benchmarks on the test which you deem satisfactory considering the difficulty level of the trek. Make all potential participants do it right before the start of a trek. Its much less time consuming, requires very little space and won’t tire out the participants for the remaining days activity. Only downside I see is that you’d having to make a good tutorial video so that people are able to understand well in advance what’s required of them physically and train accordingly. The test is a quick way to assess that fitness level.

    1. Hi Aman,
      Yo yo test seems like a great idea. We have a suggestion from Avdhesh as well of getting trekkers to send a video recording of the yo yo test. Getting this prior to the trek might help us weed out unfit trekkers before they even get to the base camp.

  63. Why do people fake fitness to go trekking. Do they get any benefit at workplace or for getting admission to any college? The unfit should go for tours and enjoy the sites. So many unfit and unprepared participants take part in marathon runs with fatal outcomes. Why? to post their photos on social media? Grow up guys.

  64. Not sure if someone has already suggested this above since I did not read all comments above; there are too many 🙂
    Maybe you can request for a video proof of the run? trekkers need to upload the video.
    In today’s cloud storage options, costing for you should not be much to have huge storage space.


    1. Hi Prasad,
      Yes, video proof of the run has been suggested by quite a few of you. It does seem like an effective way to curb fake proofs. We’ll try it out and see how complicated it is to run, record and measure.

  65. I agree with some of the trekkers who have pointed out that running is just a one dimensional test of fitness.
    I have many trekker friends who pick up their sacks every weekend and head out for a long day hike. When they do the Himalayan trek, they are fine. But they never run.

    But I do see the point – how can IH make sure the trekkers are fit.
    A few suggestions: (Some already proposed by others)
    Have an acclimatizing day at the base camp.
    On that day, take trekkers for a trial trek (not run) with their usual sack + 2 kg extra weight (can put extra stones in the sack). Select a reasonably difficult slope near the base camp. Make the first day trek a longish one. Put a time limit on the trek. Take before and after readings for everyone (the usual parameters). IH as well as the trekker would know if they can handle it or not.

    Everything else can be faked but not the actual test.

    (And just one more suggestion besides this. Though I run and walk, I find the best practice for trekking is when I load my backpack with slightly higher load (2 or 3 kgs more than the actual) and climb a 15 – 16 storeys high building 3 or 4 times in succession. Prepares the body much better for the climb as well as for carrying the load.)

    1. May be this should be a different thread but will mention here any way
      Some benefits I see of training (for a trek) by climbing (or day hiking) as opposed to running
      1) You can wear your actual trek shoes while climbing.
      2) You can carry your sack while climbing
      3) You can load your sack slightly above the actual weight
      4) You can start loading the sack gradually i.e. may be start at 50% of weight during trek (lets say X kgs) and then gradually increase 60%X , 80% X, 100%X, 120% X etc.
      5) you can experiment with your backpack loading style and find which loading pattern suits you the best. Some rules of thumb would be – a) Balance along vertical axis b) Load heavy stuff closer to body and in the middle . All this you can experiment with and verify while you practice. Loading makes a lot of difference

      So i guess the point is – running is not a good criteria for trek training. Climbing makes much better prep. (Climbing can also be easily ‘faked’ but on first day make everyone do a serious slope nearby with sacks would be a good test.) Happy practicing and happy trekking….

  66. I have a suggestion.. you guys get most trekkers from big cities like Bangalore or Mumbai etc. What you can do is select a place like cubbon park for Bangalore which is traffic free on Sundays and arrange for 2 runs a month. The trekkers who are registered for that months trek have to join at least one and run. You guys can keep both 5 k and 10 k distances . The same could be applicable for other cities.. almost no cost yet you get the proof of fitness too.. also if you ask for volunteers there will so many that will come forward to help in 2/3 aid stations and time keeping .

    For information, I have been trekking for many years now in the Himalayan terrain including technical climbes and have found that running /brisk walking for elderly ones is the best endurance sport to keep fit and enjoy the week long treks

  67. on day one of the trek, trek leader may ask for 5 km run for all the trekkers. those who are not able to finish it could be asked to return. rather than discovering it when the trek is already started, if the unfit trekkers are returned, it would be better both for the trekker and for the fellow trekker.

    1. Hi Alok,
      A 5 km run after a long drive to the base camp seems like a challenge. We don’t want our trekkers to be exhausted before they even start the trek.
      But demonstrating fitness levels at the base camp is a good idea. Perhaps we could do a combination of activities that others have suggested here – a short hike with the backpack plus a few exercises to see how trekkers fare.

  68. I’m pleasantly satisfied by the suggestions given by the community. Having trekked Rupin Pass last year, I can share my experience and suggestions.

    tl;Dr Create fear of hefty penalties where evidence of faking is found after being brought back.

    People who fake will continue to fake if there are no serious penalties/repercussions. Therefore have all the trekkers sign an agreement stating that they will have to bear a penalty for the cost and risk they brought to the trek leaders and organisers if they are brought down.

    I think that through word of mouth, pask trekkers assure future trekkers of no harm in treks perhaps to show off or due to poor judgement. If the vetting criteria is easy to fake, people get creative. Sure, requiring more sophisticated data measures might do the trick, but it can be costly and cumbersome for many. Therefore, emphasise the penalties at the time of booking the trek to keep people vary. You ought to actually penalise those who are found to have faked after being brought down. This will create a counter pressure through word of mouth.

    Mock tests before the trek might be an efficient solutions but there might be hassles when you have to send back those who’ve failed. Although, I think you’ve already stated this, so you are doing good in this part.

    Look into how trekking organisations across the globe handle this issue. Those organisations would’ve walked the path and would’ve worked out efficient solutions. Wish you good luck.

  69. Hi,
    I would suggest a video proof of run along with the screenshot. This is how:
    1. The person can start off with the run turning on the camera. Show their face in the camera.
    2. Start running.
    3. After completing every km , show up your face again…

    Bit silly thing to do..but might help to track genuine fitness proof.

    1. Hi Rucha,
      Thank you for this suggestion. Got a similar one below from Prasad as well. Video recording might indeed be more helpful in faking fitness proofs!

  70. My suggestion is
    IH should leverage its trekking community spread across the country to conduct fitness assessment sessions in the locations from where the trekkers come from. If required IH could also tie up with fitness trainers for the same. IH could also tie up with doctors and hospitals to address similar issues with Medical Certificates. Above all this, educating the aspiring trekkers is very important and is the only long term sustainable solution.

  71. For starters make sure your trek coordinators and leaders actually check the proof submitted even. The coordinator didn’t verify the proofs submitted by multiple people from my own group of friends including me. Moreover, on talking to other team members we found out that they had heard from others that IH doesn’t check the fitness proof often so they hadn’t even cared to submit one. The leader did not bring any of this up throughout the trek, thus there were unfit people on the trek who had done zero preparation for the trek, not even a fake one.

  72. To check the menace of faking fitness, IH can specify a realistic minimum criteria required for a trekker to happily complete a particular hike. For eg. If 9 min/km & a distance of 5 km are required for +45 yrs old then that can be a minimum criterion for all with a caveat that failing to meet this minimum requirement can risk in failure to summit.

  73. How about a burpee-pushup challenge? They work a lot of muscle groups together and gets the heart into the mouth as well.

  74. First, I am extremely appalled that some people fake their fitness (whatever their BMI be…. I have personally seen many more trekkers with normal BMI who were unfit and slowed the group than those with higher BMI). When few people do this, it casts a doubt on all of us cause prima facie there is no way to tell one trekker from another. When I’m actually running and sharing the screenshot, my proof of fitness may be doubted just cause of such people. Here are my suggestions:
    1) There is no way to create a fake proof system – your exclusion errors may exceed your inclusion errors if you keep making criteria more rigid. An honour system works best. Hence, I would suggest the more extreme step. One the first day of trek, the TL should send anyone back who reaches the campsite an hour or more after the others (80 per cent of the group) on account of physical fitness. The call would be a subjective one, but I think your TLs are smart enough to judge who is walking slow to give someone company whole who is walking slow because they’re just not able to walk. This should also be informed to all the trekkers before they start the trek so they can pace themselves accordingly.
    2) Use your health cards information and other registration information to red-list trekkers who you think faked it. You could publicly share their stories (hopefully they’ll be willing to confess publicly) to create sort of a terror that anyone who takes fitness will be publicly called out.

  75. We can have a tieup with local hospitals/physician, initially this can be tested in metropolitan cities. This test will be free for an individual we can addup this amount in their trekking fee.

  76. Trekking fitness is quite different to gym fitness or running fitness.
    Years ago my wife did a trek in Nepal. Like me, we’re not gym people. A few people in the group bragged about how fit they were because they regularly went to the gym. However it turned out they were the ones that struggled the most.
    We’ve never been runners, as we’re not quick over a short period, but we have the endurance and stamina to trek all day. Trekking endurance over a day is quite a different ability to being able to run 5 km in 35 minutes.
    Not everybody uses Fitbit or Apps to track their activity. We are both very active people as we do lots of treks and cycling, and I also play squash. We always do these things electronic/gadget free.
    I think that mental toughness and preparedness is more important than actual fitness. I seen people that are very fit, but when the going gets tough (heavy rain, extreme cold, extreme heat, heavy pack. Steep ascents etc), if they don’t have the mental toughness, they are the first to struggle.
    One thing we do have is a comprehensive list of the treks we’ve been on over a period of four decades. Nothing beats having the experience of having trekked before and knowing that you can cope with whatever is dished up because you have been through it before.

    1. Hi David,
      You make a very pertinent point about endurance. Would you have any suggestions on how we can ensure that our trekkers are working towards building this?

  77. u can put a bar for physical ad the minimum requirements:
    1 mile run in 7 minutes, followed by 10 push up, 30 set-up, 6 chin up.
    it reveals the upper body strength, stemina and endurance of a person.

    1. Hi Navjot,
      That’s a great suggestion to build overall strength and endurance. Do you have any suggestion on how we can track if trekkers are doing this? Maybe, we can try running this test at the base camp before the trek begins.

      1. Navjot, Ten pushups, and 5 chin ups test upper body strength. That is true. Neither reveals stamina or endurance beyond the two minutes for either exercise! Neither is a good test for trekking. One can only do chin ups if they practice chin ups.

    2. Navjot, Ten pushups, and 5 chin ups test upper body strength. That is true. Neither reveals stamina or endurance beyond the two minutes for either exercise! Neither is a good test for trekking. One can only do chin ups if they practice chin ups.

  78. HI there, I love your attention to the fitness of trekkers. Having trekked (backpacked ) all my life in the US I know how important fitness is to this endeavor,

    I do have one comment. I have a total hip replacement due to a bicycle crash. My physicians do not allow me to run. I hike and bike to stay fit. Alternative fitness tests would be great for folks who don’t run. For example hiking distance with elevation would be great for trekking. e.g. X km with X meters in X time.

    1. Hi Dee Dee Cress,
      This very helpful. I understand from all the comments below that different fitness routines work for different people. A combination of climbing and distance, if measurable, will give us a balanced picture of fitness.

  79. Hey, I totally agree that this is a major problem. As one unfit person can bring down the trekking experience of the entire group and it’s a waste of time for that person also.

    But I think sending screenshots of the app is not at all a good solution as they can make someone else run in their place and send it to you. Neither BMI matters that much.

    So one suggestion from my end is-
    Fix a certain set of exercises. Different levels for different treks.
    Like 15-15-15 crunches, 1min plank..etc etc. For a easy trek and similarly …a mix set of difficult exercise for difficult treks.

    Mention this in the trek details itself.

    Level of difficulty of this trek- easy/medium/hard.

    A video of the person required doing the following set of exercise in one go- ( make 3 different sets of exercise as a threshold for easy, medium and difficult trek. )

    A person should not be allowed to trek until and unless he/she uploads the video shot in one go.

    This is will ensure genuinity. People won’t be able to fool you. And overall fitness can be checked required for different treks.


  80. If they have done any previous treks, please ask them to furnish a certificate.

    You can ask any of the previous fit trekker I. A city to vouch for his fitness. May be they can run 5k together. Trust is a big factor here

  81. Faking fitness is clearly an indication that a person is completely ignorant about the realities of a Himalayan trek.

    IH has already classified treks as easy moderate and difficult.
    Why not use this has more than a guideline.

    1. Would it be possible that IH mandates that a moderate OR difficult trek is allowed only for trekkers with atleast one Himalayan trek experience in the past.

    2. If a person fakes fitness inspite of experience then jsut send the person back on first day itself.

  82. i appreciate the measures taken by INDIA HIKES regarding fitness criteria for the
    trekkers participating. I being trekked in HIMALAYAS for more than 25 times
    have seen unhappy trekkers who have not followed fitness routine before they
    start their treks. I strongly endorse your views on fitness criteria which will
    not only help the organisers for smooth conduct of the expeditions, but the
    co trekkers who are not demotivated during the treks when a unfit trekker falls
    TO avoid faking fitness test certificate from a certified gym trainer and a physician approved
    by INDIA HIKES in each locality can be insisted.

  83. Hi,

    I have never hiked in my life. But i closely follow your website for photos and articles which comes directly from the trekkers heart.
    I am not sure what sought of fitness certificate are we talking about here. But here are my thoughts.

    Can we (IH) have a tie up with a medical center or gym? – In this case you can send the registered trekkers for the required tests as per the treks they have chosen and you end up getting the correct results.
    Can the running test be manged by doing it on treadmills? I understand that its not a real terrain.

    I hope we get a solution soon.

  84. I completely agree with strict fitness standards. The only sure way of weeding out the cheaters is to give them a physical test IN INDIA BEFORE THE TREK! It is tough on the cheaters to have paid for their transportation and put up the money for the trek, but, that is what they deserve! An alternative trek might then be offered, or a partial of the trek they have paid for to soften the consequences of their cheating and for India hikes to keep their money. This is “tough love.”

  85. I read sixty percentage of the comments above and was surprised that the most important part of life every one missed which is called honesty. Before learning how to hike, try to be good honest person first. Not only hike but Life will be much more beautiful. You will be on trek without any fear that you cheated the system. When I was in school my Mom told me one story which changed my life. I want to share that with you all.
    There was saint and he had two students. After their education was over he wanted to test them and gave one chicken to each student and asked them to go away and chop his neck and bring back the chicken to him so that they can cook their meal. He asked them to make sure that when you are chopping his neck, no one should see you doing that. If some one saw you , you will fail in your test. Both of them felt it was very easy job in that forest. So both went far away in the forest where no one could see them. One came first and handed over the chicken with chopped head to the saint and was happy that no one saw him. Then the second boy came after long time and brought the chicken alive and the teacher asked what happened you could not find the place to chop his head. The boy replied that you put that restriction that no one should see me doing that but I could not find any place because I could see me and him all the time so I could not do it. That boy passed the test. So when ever you want to do something wrong because no one can see you, just remember that you can see it and don’t do it. My life has been blessed since that time.
    Don’t wear the helmet while riding a bike because policeman will give you ticket but wear it because it is for your own safety and make your wife and kids also wear it. Their head is not made of steel that they don’t need it.
    What India hike is asking you, is for your safety. They are just advising you. You know your condition better than anyone else. You should be more worried about it on your own rather than trying to find how to cheat yourself. Finally when you hike, your cheating will hurt you only.
    My advice to India hike would be to allow beginners to go for three to four days hike only, that too at lower than 8,000 ft elevation to get their feet wet and learn and then allow them to go higher altitude.
    10 km run/hr. is not easy for the beginners who never did any exercise in their life. Running helps for cardio which is great but hikers also need muscles different than runners. You can do stair steps for your leg muscles and cardio both. You can do cardio on treadmill also but important part is to maintain your heart rate constant for minimum 20-30 minutes according to your age. How to calculate your training heart rate—220-your age(40) =180. 80% of 180 is 144. So your training heart rate should be 144 to be maintained for 20 to 30 minutes at least four to five times in a week. Then you do exercise for your leg muscles. When you make the goal so high of 10 km run /hr. people who are not honest and don’t want to work so hard, that gives them incentive to cheat. You go to elementary school then middle school then to high school and then to college. Don’t expect to go to college before going to school. Thanks.

  86. Here’s my 2 cents – Setup popup sites. Mobile pods where anyone who has enrolled has to visit a few days before the trek begins and do a few tests. You get a chance to assess their fitness and they get a reality check.

    These pods can be centrally located or mobile depending on where the maximum number of participants are joining for a trek.

  87. I think you should stick to particular running app which does not allow any kind of fake readings.and despite of sending the screenshot it should br shared with you directly from the app itself so that you can crosscheck that they aren’t faking it anyways.
    In other ways you can also do a fitness check test prior a week or somewhat from the event of trek like they do in AMARNATH YATRA
    Or I would also suggest you to build up your own app for the same with all the fitness check features you want.

  88. I’m not at all surprised to read this email of Swati – in fact, the context “fake” in this article screams loudest above any other human vices these days in India, leave alone personal commitments (to become fit), (showing some) truthfulness about oneself, and (setting the) right standard. Lest people realize that faking about one’s fitness parameters is *not* cool and doing so might cause them untimely death, no degree of control or scrutiny can help here. The wannabe-trekkers should know, people die in mountains every year. People should not climb the slopes to “offload” their baggage on mountains, nor should they do so to score some cheap brownie points in social media. Mountains are stern teachers (and at times, cruel), and more so on “chalta hai” types of people. Mountains ain’t your plain-jane hill stations, and definitely not your backyards. You do not outsmart mother nature buddy. We all learn from the nature and make no mistake, you too shall, the hard way, or the harder (if not the hardest).

    Coming back to the primary pain point that IH is seeking to address, just let go of all the app based fakeable fitness stats. Prior to start of the trek at base camp, make arrangement of a TMT (Treadmill Test) for a duration of your choice, and map the peak heart rate with that of the acceptable range. In case there is spillage, ask for a re-test and details of the wannabe-trekker’s fitness regime, of course with supporting data. If such data are not produced, make the wannabe-trekker sign a form stating a declaration of no ownership of mishap en-route (other than carrying the body down) and no refund, in case of termination of trek due to non-completion, or being brought down due to utter slowness, or unnatural fluctuation or drop of any of the vitals. Create a central database of every such wannabe-trekker with unfit health or fake evidence submission, and if required, share it among the other trek organizing players in the market (am sure no setup shall want to team up with spam-eaters). And yes, like many have highlighted here already, do not discard the BMI measure as an initial shortlisting, as a high BMI never lies.

  89. Hey Swathy,
    Hi, I just thought that for curing d problem of fake fitness proofs evidence
    We can start wid a new jdea to present the trekker the fitness by d means of scannung d hardcopy which will contain the stamp of d gym institute or trainer which ensures dat person can make the record
    Hope so my suggestion would be beneficial to u
    Thank u !!

  90. I agree with David that running 5 KM in 35 minutes is not a good indicator and you can end up weeding out people who have the endurance to complete a difficult trek on their own. As per me this is a long term solution:

    1. We all have profiles on India Hikes (right ?) . Turn these profiles into something like a fitness app where you have details on how a person has performed on the treks they have been on. At the end / or during the trek, your trek leaders should judge each and everyone on certain parameters (1-10 scale / 1-5 scale / whatever you decide). These could be attitude, endurance, ability to do an easy trek, ability to do a medium difficult trek, and ability to do a difficult trek. Based on this information you will have details about your current members and based on their ratings you can open only certain treks for them. For example, if you want a fitness level of 7.5 + for a difficult trek, and someone has a rating of 7, just do not let them go on those treks.

    When I sign in, I can see the treks I am eligible for. If I am not eligible for certain treks, then you can have the option of bringing in the tasks. You can do some circuits in 3-4 cities every month for people to increase their eligibility ratings. I do not think it will come to that though.

    2. The issue is with people who are trekking with IH for the first time. This is slightly more tricky. When someone logs in for the first time, you can just have them being eligible for easy treks / or maybe medium difficulty treks. Or have tasks to increase their eligibility. Again, circuits in a few cities can work if people want to increase eligibility.

  91. Ask for a formal treadmill test. That can’t be faked .
    Ask for a 5kmor 10km tuned run certificate. That’s tough to fake.
    A step further, how about India hikes starting fitness training centres at a few key spots?

  92. I haven’t done any hikes in the Himalayan region just because of this fitness criteria being measured by the ability to run. I’m sure it’s a very good indicator. But there are people like me who hate running but are fit otherwise. I do ride bikes four times a week in a trail that keeps my heart rate in cardio training range for atleast 40 min. Total duration is 1h 10m for a 20 km trail with an elevation gain of about 220m. Once a week it’s a 40/50km ride with similar elevation. My BMI hovers around 29. I don’t worry too much about my diet. Now, with this I won’t qualify for India hikes Trek. I think there is merit in having different scales apart from running.

  93. First off, thank you for your constant articles and emails from the coordinator in the last two weeks of the trek. The power of repetition might help even just 1 person!

    My suggestion – you guys make great videos. How about making a set of workout videos? Tailor the list to the difficulty of the trek and send it out to the registered folks. Request a video log of this workout in any combo (improvement over 4 weeks, workout with a buddy, etc.) which motivates folks to tape themselves. Youngsters anyway like vlogs, the others will probably learn 😉 Those who prefer to run and walk can send in those videos instead? The cons – you guys will need resources to check this and *may* be blamed for subjective decisions. I’m sure a more refined version of this can be thought of 🙂

    This eliminates the need for a test at base camp (8hrs travel, 7000ft gain, even the fittest just want chai and sleep after that!) and the issues of don’t like to run/don’t carry my phone/no place to run outdoors.

    If the honour system isn’t honoured, the only way to be sure is to ask for visual proof. Keep up the great work guys, much respect for y’all!

  94. First, thank you for your educative articles and reminder emails from the trek coordinator two weeks before the trek. The power of repetition will surely help a few. However, today’s attention span probably calls for more videos than text.

    My suggestion – you guys make great videos, how about a series of fitness videos by Indiahikes?! It could cover HIIT/core/legs (example, fitness blender on YouTube). Then request video logs from trekkers in any combo which can inspire them (improvement over 4 weeks/workout with a buddy/inspire your child or niece or nephew to value workouts). For those who prefer runs or walks or local hikes, they can make a vlog with their snapshot. 20-somethings already like vlogs, the rest can hopefully adapt 🙂

    In short, you gotta like some kind of workout to be able to do a trek, just pick your choice BUT send a video of it. Overhead for you guys at IH is a subjective elimination (and associated blame and loss of revenue) and more time to parse through these, but there’s surely a more refined version of this idea somewhere, just not in my head at the moment 😉

    This will eliminate the need for a fitness test at base camp (even the fittest trekker needs chai and a bed after 8hrs on the road climbing 7000ft!)/don’t like to run/don’t carry my phone situations.

    When the honour system for a snapshot isn’t honoured, the only other choice I see is a video proof. I’m not saying it’s fake proof but the effort needed to fake it will make a larger % be true 🙂

  95. I know it will be cumbersome for you people to conduct, but a Beep Test 1 or 2 months before the trek will definitely give you how much the person is capable of doing simple/medium/tough trek.

  96. I was also going to suggest what a few people above have already suggested – do a running test on the first day of the trek.
    Additionally, ask participants to sign a checkbox during registration that says that ‘I understand if I fail the run test, I will be asked to abandon the trek with no refund. I agree to comply with the decision of the trek leaders’. I think that itself should deter many fakers.
    The test should check whether their times are within 3 minutes of the screenshot they submitted during registration.

  97. I have done few treks with IH and have seen such Ideas people have of fooling IH with fake data.
    I have seen people who start disliking the trek after first day . I have heard someone saying “Trek should be like you should go in 4X4 SUV and just enjoy the nature and return back to campsite.”

    Yes IH always asks for medical certificates and dose the tests at the Base. And many times the people with high BP are asked to stay back . I have been asked to stay back once and I don’t regret on that.

    I would suggest apart from just checking the BP and Calculating the BMI at the base why don’t we think of asking trekkers to run a few KM and prove what they have submitted is true before starting the Trek.

  98. On day 1 of the trek , there should be mandatory 10km run/walk/jog at the base camp/ starting point. (1) The trekkers who fulfill the criteria should be allowed to go till the summit, (2)those who marginally disqualify can be monitored through the climb (3) those who dramatically disqualify should be given a shortened trek experience & made to return back after truncated trek. EXCEPTIONS : on the mandatory run , some might have a bad day. give them a second chance after 4 to 6 hours.

  99. Hi,
    May be there is one point that IH is missing.
    Agreed that some people are faking but I think running as a prep for serious trek is itself a wrong start.
    Day treks / long hikes with your own sack and own trek shoes prep you much better because
    1) your muscles get used to ascending and descending
    2) your muscles get used to carrying back pack
    3) you learn how to pace for long hauls
    4) you learn how to coordinate breath with steps on ascent and on descent
    5) you learn endurance
    6) you learn importance of hydration
    7) you learn importance of right shoes
    8) you learn importance of which sack suits you the best
    9) you learn how to load the sack
    10) you get used to the trekking pole
    11) you learn to coordinate the rhythm and balance of trek pole with your body
    and so many more….

    Doing running to prep for a serious trek is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. 🙂 🙂

    Totally inadequate and hence probably even honest people who train that way are having problems.
    So just wear your trek shoes, wear your sack, take your stick and……… take a hike. 🙂

    1. Hi Priya!
      I completely agree with you and I hope India Hikes takes this seriously. I am a bag packer and go trekking almost every weekend. I carry my own stuff irrespective of the height and difficulty level, In fact I am also used to staying in temples and caves atop hills, I am also a marathoner and into cross training. Hence I understand your point very well. Different muscles are used for different activities and therefore your suggestions are valid. I have seen people climb and come back happily but then crumble when back home. Some crumble during the trek. Frankly speaking, despite being a die-hard trekker and a full marathoner, I found the first patch of Kedarkantha with my back pack quite taxing. It was shocking to me because it happened for the first time, though I had scaled higher peaks. The subsequent climbs were good and I joined work the next day after returning home. My work is anything but sedentary. The reason why I am sharing all this is that if I could find a part of one trek difficult, what about those who are not used to climbing or are not into fitness?

  100. Hi!
    I tried to read all the posts. Good suggestion.
    I am surprised how a participating member can fake this and still believes he can trek the Himalayas. To be fit, should be our goal and enjoy the trek, and not burden the organisers, or not to prove other trekkers. Anyone submitting these and not able to do the trek should be asked to return (of course, with no refund)
    Running 5k does not make you fit for a Himalayan trek. This is mainly a physical and mental ability to endure the climb up and down and withstand the altitude.
    Regular running, walking and follow the Trek Fitness Guide provided by IH should be enough to trek and experience the natures beauty.

  101. To avoid fake fitness proofs, we can ask trekkers to submit a video recording, doing a set of exercises like pushups, rope jumps, crunches, sit ups, pull ups etc. in certain minutes. Duration and count could be decided on the basis of trek difficulty level. The identity can be matched at the base camp and if some decided to post a fake video, they should be returned.
    This idea’s downside is that it would be too large a data to handle and process with. Video resolution can be limited to 360p to keep the file sizes small.

    Also, I believe trekkers should not be allowed for offloading the backpack. When they have this option available, they do not take the trek preparation seriously. They can’t fathom that high-altitude treks can be difficult even without backpacks.

    1. Hi SG,

      I kind of disagree on your last comment of do not allow trekkers to offload backpack. Last time, I was prepared (or at least thought the prep was sufficient) . I was ready to carry by rucksack but when I reached the basecamp, I had a twisted neck and was so devastated. I was into tears that all this going to a waste. Fortunately, they got my backpack off so there is no pressure on my neck and I recovered next day. I was popping medicines through my trek and was afraid if that will affect me during my trek, If not for offloading, I had no choice but to return.

  102. Running as an only prep for serious trek is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

    Trekking needs muscles getting used to ascending, descending, carrying loads, getting used to ‘trek’ shoes, getting used to backpack, getting used to coordinating steps with trek pole, endurance of 6-7 hours,………………….

    All of the above prep is simply missing in running.

    So some people may be submitting correct data but still they can’t complete because running just doesn’t make the grade as far as a training tool for serious trek is concerned.

    So just change the training protocol – broaden it. Make hikes (short and long, with sack and trek shoes) as a trek prep tool rather than running and things will be fine.

  103. Hi,

    I think partnering with fitness centers and doctors will help. Try this on a pilot basis for a couple of treks. You will get a better picture of what the challenges are and how they can be resolved. Challenges like cost, trekker experience can be ironed out gradually.

  104. I don’t really have an advice of how it would be possible to restrict people from furnishing fake fitness proves, what ever alternative that you can come up with will eventually be cheated or trespassed. I would also like to mention that I have seen people with inadequate fitness getting away with difficult treks.
    While I was on my first trek with India Hikes to Sandakphu, I was of the view that the fitness standards that the community asks for is not that essential.
    However, when preparing for the trek (primarily running) I was really motivated and those early morning runs made me feel better about the self I am. So even after my trek was over I kept this practice up. I would also like to mention that my trek leader (Himangshu) did play a role in explaining why is fitness such an important aspect not only for the trek but for life as well.
    I have seen people who just prepare for treks a few months before the treks, fitness though is not state of being but a practice or may be a discipline.
    Motivating people to identify with the trekking community (and stating the fact that a trek is a sport) can change the outlook of people towards trekking fitness. Further having the trek leaders engaged in such movement can also play a big role.

    1. Hi Banadeep

      I totally agree with you. Educating trekkers through all means on all phases of trek planning is the only surefire way of solving the issue.

      I hope trekkers realise the importance of fitness soon enough.


  105. I agree with the comments above. Uploading information of one run may not be sufficient proof and could easily be fudged. But I understand where you’ll are coming from, it’s one standardized measure for everyone.

    Here are a couple of things you’ll could consider:

    1) If running is the criteria. Ask for timing certificate for a 5k/10k. Timed running events are held all through the year in various cities. Potential trekkers can simply register for one of these and submit their timing certificate. No issues with data fudging or using someone else’s run time here. Popular Marathons like the Tata Mumbai Marathon use this as an eligibility criterion.

    2) You can ask them to share their Strava/Garmin/Runkeeper/Endomondo, etc profiles. Most people use some or other device/app to track activities. You could scan through their activities and get a sense of the fitness levels of the individual. Hard to imagine someone fudging multiple activities. Cycling events like Tour of Nilgiris ask for this to screen candidates and works pretty well.

    1. Hi Kaustubh,

      You make a sound point there. We do accept previous marathon experiences(if done within a time span of 3-6 months) for many trekkers who for some reason couldn’t upload their 5k/10k run timings. Although people in metro cities can afford to participate in marathons, a considerable amount of trekkers from tier 2/3 cities may struggle on this front.

      Your 2nd point related to diversifying the fitness profiles based on devices/apps does make sense. Actually, for trekkers who have regular fitness regimes, we hardly see any fake fitness uploads. But this is definitely a point keeping in mind.


  106. Hi Swathy,

    I am new to India hikes emails and I plan to do my first trek in December of this year.
    As a new trekker and reading everything on your website about the different routes I look forward to a very good time that being said it would not be fair to anyone if one person can’t cope up specially, since all have paid for a good time.

    I had one idea after your reading your email is that you could ask everyone to upload a time lapse video along with their screen shots and also drop pins at their starting and ending points.

    The video will help to see if someone is running or riding or is cheating in any way. The pins will show the distance.

    Hope this helps.
    Good luck!

  107. Like most of them already said, running may not be the only way to evaluate fitness. All my life I have been a sprinter and for few people like me, it’s just not our forte. As long as IH provides more options to prove fitness levels, this is meant to happen as running is not a prerequisite to trekking(in general trekking world) and both are independent of each other.

    Coming over to other options, why not have the trekker submit other proofs – zumba sessions, gymnastics, cyclathons, tournament wins in badminton/tennis, cricket, football or any sport that needs cardiovascular endurance for that matter? As long as options are provided, the faking will definitely reduce as we are dealing with ‘The Trekking Community’.


  108. I am not in favor of taking test after reaching to the base camp. Fulfill all your requirements before starting from home. If you qualify and approved, you are done. Then just reach the base camp and enjoy your hike rather than worrying if you will be allowed to go or not. It is nice of India hike that they allow us to join that hike again any time for free but that is a small pocket change. You have to spend lot of money to fly down and stay in hotels and loose your vacations. We trust India hike and they have to trust us when they approve us. For 7% cheaters, we the 93% should not be punished.
    Again, some people have suggested to make everyone run 10 K when we reach to base camp. You all people live at 500 ft to 1000 ft above sea level. Next day you reach on base camp which is 7,500 ft. your body cannot adjust that altitude so quickly. You all will fail in 10K test. That is not good idea. Olympic runners or other sports people go to High altitude from 8,000 to 10,000 ft and train there for few months to increase their hemoglobin which increases the oxygen level in their blood and then go for Olympics to have better stamina and you people are suggesting the opposite way. Body changes with conditions around you. Testing of blood pressure and oxygen intake is also useless test on first night at base camp. You have to let the body adjust to the new environment and then test. You can get rejected because your blood pressure shows high or oxygen intake shows low. When you go on higher altitude, the oxygen level goes down. At 1,000 ft. oxygen level is 21.1% and at 8,000 ft. it is 15.4%. There is no way you can have 98% reading in your oxygen meter. Some people will draw less than that. The body will adjust slowly with this level. Body can adjust 1,000 to 1,500 ft. everyday not 7,000 ft. that is the reason we are suppose to climb 1,500 ft max. in the beginning. I was hiking in Kilimanjaro- Kenya and the oxygen level was only 10.1% and our intake was only 65%. according to these guide lines we all would have been rejected. These kind of decisions have to be made by doctor and not just a guide with fixed knowledge and you screw up your whole trip.

    1. Hello Pradeep,
      Excellent post. One that brings out a lot of facts and hence brings out a lot of flaws in India Hikes current practices.
      I have trekked all over the world and most good organizations counter these problems by having 1 or 2 extra acclimatizing days at the base camp. This is not a luxury but a dire necessity. As you rightly point out, one is going from 0 ASL(Above Sea Level) to 7000 feet ASL. Body needs to get used to the new height (to suggest that we should make people run 10k on the first day at 7200 feet is not only ludicrous and ignorant but can turn to be outright fatal.)
      So the best is , as some one has suggested earlier, and most good trek organizations across the globe do this, is to have at least one full acclimatizing day at the base camp, let everyone get used to the new height, take a short or longish acclimatizing trek with their sack on. And those who can’t do the acclimatizing trek should rightly be asked to stay for more days at the base camp.

      India Hikes: You are a good organization with a good heart. You are a conscientious organization. You are always learning and improving. But in this area i.e. your pre-trek training program and your trek acclimatization, your policies are misguided and you need to get experts (medical doctors who understand trekking, global trekkers who understand human physiology and understand good practices across the globe) on your committee which forms these guidelines.

      IH is a great organization and this temporary problem too shall pass with right resolve, right advice and right action . You have the resolve and you can act. You need to listen to the ‘right’ advice backed up by sound knowledge of human physiology and backed up by experience. Just theoretical knowledge is useless and just trek experience is not enough. I am sure you will do the right thing. All the very best.

      1. Yes, acclimatization at the base camp is very essential. I have always done this with all the groups and never felt the height that I scaled. But in Kedarkantha, we started climbing to the first camp from the base camp without any acclimatization. Add to it two sleepless nights prior to the journey from home to the base camp. This could be very individualized. The entire trek and management was, however, extremely good. In fact, the best group I trekked with.

  109. What a great response you have got to this vexed question, Swathi!

    In the end it is up to each individual to make their own honest decision. If someone is not anywhere fit enough they will not enjoy the trek and its rigours and also become a burden to others. The consequences of not being fit enough when on the trek itself – i.e. that you will be sent back to base – could be emphasised more in your information and maybe is what IndiaHikes should do more of.

    My only suggestion is to ask each individual’s doctor to sign a certificate confirming that they estimate them to be fit and healthy enough to undertake the trek. Keep the BMI – as you say it is just an indicator to ask more questions and asks people to really wonder whether they are overweight or not – and also the trial run test, because this brings it home to people that they need to be fit and it is their own responsibility, not IndiaHikes, to be fit.

    One issue is that people may simply get sick just prior to or during the trek and in that way become not fit enough. Unfortunately the same rule must apply: go back.

    For my partner and I, we rally liked that IndiaHikes stipulated these conditions because it told us that you were serious about the welfare of your trekkers and that we needed to be serious about our own fitness too.

    We are looking forward to our trek to GoechaLa and will be walking a lot, including up hills, between now and then 🙂

  110. Hi Team,
    It’s really good to see that you are concerned about the fitness of people who are going on trek, cheers!!
    No app is fool proof since they are made by us so we are very well aware of the hack as well. On indoor mode i.e GPS off mode, the efficiency of app is reduced considerably or in other words if you run 1000 meters it will give a reading of 1300 meters. Because on indoor mode the steps are measured on the basis of vibrations which are device receives, which are further converted to distance. To test it put your device on indoor mode and start tapping it on your palm and see the increases in steps.
    But when it is on GPS on/outdoor mode it will give you a better reading but even that can be fooled easily.
    So it totally depends on the trekker. I would suggest you to make them understand that the idea behind this fitness test is to test their fitness and is for “THEIR BENEFIT ONLY”. And get them involved in fitness activities 3-6 months prior to their trek depending upon the level of trek they choose.


  111. Hi Priya,
    Nice to know that someone else also doing trekking outside India. As you said, I am very much impressed with India hike too. They were very well organized. I could not find any fault in their management. I liked this part very much that they keep on advising people in every aspect of hiking. Good videos etc. Prices are so well set and are shown in the web site upfront for each item. I have not seen any one doing like that. You have to call to find out the price and that changes depending who is calling. They did everything what they said. I talked to many of my friends about India hike and they will get lot more people.
    I did everything what they needed with all medical certificates, fitness test etc. Which I never did before for my hiking life of more than 30 years from Mt. Everest base camp, Annapurna, Kanchan changa base camp, Kilimanjaro- Kenya, Machu pichu – Peru, Cotopaxi- Ecuador, Europe, to Antarctica and many mountains in USA. I got the approval from my physician and cardiologist before the hike though Har ki Dun was not much of a hike for me. But the day I reached the base camp, my blood pressure was taken after the dinner, which is wrong time and for some reason it showed up to 160 which is too high for me. My whole life it never went over 120. Anyway I was told that I may have to return if it did not show better in the morning. I could not sleep whole night thinking I may have to go back tomorrow. My equipment which I carry showed only 130 which was still high for me and that was because the reading was taken just after dinner plus taken by some one who is not qualified to do it. Anyway, next morning It was 130 which was still higher because my body was trying to adjust. So I could go for the trek. I don’t want that to happen to anyone. Just with one reading your fete is decided. After that I was normal for the whole trip including my Oxygen intake. I carry that too with me.
    I am more worried about my health and want to live longer to enjoy with good health. I run 10k five days a week, Yoga for four days a week for one hour and weight training for 45 minutes three days a week. This is the only thing I did not like in my hike. I felt my Honesty did not work and realized that you can be rejected on the decision of a unqualified person where my physician wrote specifically that I am fit for any hike I want and any altitude.
    You are very right that we should have a day to stay at base camp if it is 7,000 to 8,000 ft to get acclimatized and not start doing your tests the moment you come after a long journey. I understand that India hike wants to reduce the days to keep the cost down but it becomes more risky for some people. If you don’t want to increase the number of days then reduce the distance you go. More over put the beginner on three to four days of moderate hike to get the feel of hike. I prefer hike should be slower to enjoy the nature rather than run just to reach the goal. Journey is more important than just reaching the goal as fast as possible just to watch your steps.

    1. Hello IH,
      As you can see from some of the replies above,
      1) you can not rely on screenshots etc. As Ankur rightly says above, everything can be fudged if someone wants to, So there is a flaw there (first flaw is in that person’s ethical system who fudges it but the second flaw is in IH criteria which accepts such inane proofs.). So a progressive org like IH should chuck this out.
      2) As someone rightly pointed out, and as Pradeep points out above, one can diligently follow the running prep given by IH and still not make the grade. Why? Because running as a sole prep for serious trek is ludicrously flawed.
      3) So the problem definition – 7% trekkers are not able to complete is correct but the solution proposed i.e. they are not able to complete because they are fudging the ‘running’ proof is chasing the wrong trail. Many of these 7% might be diligently following ‘running’ prep given by IH. IH is missing the fact that running as a prep for serious trekking is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. There are bigger issues IH is missing.
      4) As Pradeep points out above, most of us stay at 0 ASL and we gain 7500 feet on day 1. Where is the time given for the body to adjust? When our overseas friends want to trek in India, their first concern is safety protocols and within those, the first question is – does this trek organizer provide enough time for acclimatizing? IH has good safety protocols but it gets a huge beating on acclimatizing.

      I know there are economical reasons for not giving an extra acclimatizing day. I also know IH has extra acclimatizing days on some treks and that is good but but question is – what is the right thing to do and why not have it on all treks? (Just a note – if you research, you will find that most good, ethical and conscientious trek orgs across the globe do not skip acclimatizing days.)

      Somewhere IH has to make that decision – is it run of the mill out and out commercial org or an ethical org doing the right thing? If it is an ethical org doing the right thing, there is absolutely no way acclimatizing can be taken so lightly.

  112. Dear IH family,

    I understand your grievance and can sympathize with the position you are put in often leading to making the hard calls that many won’t agree with.

    On this occasion, I personally feel conflicted as always about the fitness criteria. I’ve hiked internationally, (in California- World famous John Muir trail to the Andes in Peru,) but the fitness criteria at IH, was a first. But after I read through it and let it settle in, it didn’t seem like an outlandish idea, because, hiking does require a good amount of cardiovascular fitness to make it enjoyable and less of a bother to the fellow-group members.
    But, fitness is so subjective and training for hike in Altitude is a whole different beast than just doing squats and long run. I also find it descriminatory to single out unfit people and ban them from hikes.
    I’ve seen really fit people having to withdraw from a trek because of a muscle strain/cramps to unfit people actually finish in the “top 10”. Of an individual is

    Then comes the whole idea of “20 days prior to the d-day-stats”. When I am going for a trek, I begin to rest my body and do only light exercises and focus on hydration of my body-at least 10-days in advance, so I don’t strain myself or risk injuring myself prior or during the trek. In such a scenario I wouldn’t be able to provide IH with any stats?

    *True story: I signed up for a hike in Peru three years ago (also my first hike)and I wasn’t the fittest in the group by a long stretch. I was the last of the group almost always and stopping to recover myself was the worse thing I’d do slowing down the pack- from not getting to enjoy the halts or the water breaks, I was literally hurting. But the group I went with was the most supportive and encouraging groups who gave me the confidence to push harder and take the challenge one step at a time. This is when I really fell in love with Hiking. It’s the over arching experience of going as a pack, a community, a family, and having each other’s back no matter what!… beside the beautiful scenery we all go for. I know, some people may think, this is not a rehab or retreat trip to get oneself a support group- but, why not?!

    It took me a beatiful hike in the Andes along with the most supportive people to re-evaluate my choices in life and find another reason to LOVE hiking and a new life into fitness. That what a hike or any sport is meant to do to an individual. And placing strong regulations makes IH a not so favorable place to be that gateway hike to be a “hiker for life.”

    Unfortunately, I also know there is absolutely no way you can always get that dream team of hikers who would be supportive and that’s fair enough, just a few people will make it worth everything.

    Sometimes, the beauty of the world is not what’s out there, but among its communities. Maybe the only solution I can think of is to maintain the fitness requirement as is, and when unfit hikers are slowing the rest of the group down, the trek leader should have s word in private and give the hiker a option for a shorter route or have them pay a considerable amount to ride on the mules to the next base camp?

    Sorry for the long post, I hope this helps.

  113. Here is what I would suggest

    Pre trek preparation
    • First understand the muscle groups that we are going to need on trek and strengthen them.
    o Ankles, Knees, Leg Muscles, Core, Lower Back, Upper Back, Shoulders, Arms, Neck
    o Heart and Lungs
    • Now understand that each sport has a different training regimen. Training regimen for baseball does NOT work for playing basketball.
    • Now understand the capacities needed for the sport that we all love – trekking
    o Legs, knees, ankles should be trained for ascent and descent
    o Shoulders should be trained for load bearing and load carrying
    o Heart and lungs should be trained for climbing
    o Body should be trained for long duration endurance
    o Mind should be trained for long durations hauls
    o And then there is an issue of high altitudes
    • Now we can come to the training program for our sport – trekking
    o Strengthening exercises for – ankles, knees, legs, core, back, shoulders, arms
    o Aerobic training to increase heart and lung capacity
    o Training with the loaded sack, trekking shoes and trek pole, may be 30 minutes walk 2 or 3 times per week
    o Every fortnight or once a month, as our busy schedule allows, a slightly longer trek of say 2 hours (may be 3 or 4 hours depending on time available), wearing loaded sack, trek shoes and carrying trek pole.
    o On IH side – Please stop asking for proofs of these because that might insult honest people and will not stop cheats anyway. Seasoned trekkers will only laugh at such inane ‘proofs’.
    o IH can also get real fancy and start asking for Treadmill Test or PFT (Pulmonary Function Test) But that is part of the same paranoid behavior. After a year of chasing these trails, you will be at the same place where you started.
    • Now coming to high altitudes
    o We can NOT train for high altitudes at sea level (there are some places / countries where they create indoor artificial environment to train for this but in our normal lives, we can not train for high altitudes at sea level)
    o So acclimatizing is not only a necessity, it is a MUST do activity. No short cuts here. Not doing it is against science, logic, ethics and our own conscience.
    o This will serve two purposes – 1) it lets the trekker’s body get used to the new height and 2) this is the ONLY way to make sure one can handle the rigors of the actual trek ahead i.e. if one can’t do the 4-5 hours acclimatizing trek in stipulated time, he / she should not be allowed to proceed higher. He can retry the next day and if he can complete with ease, he should be allowed to proceed. May be he is fit but his body just needed more time to get acclimatized. (All other ‘proofs’ are useless and can be fudged. ) Real ‘proof’ of the pudding is in eating.
    o Once on trek, there are a lot of things one must do to avoid the problems of high altitudes. One of the better articles I like is from IH site itself by a very seasoned trekker Rituraj Kumar. You can find it here
    I really hope an intelligent, committed and ethical org like IH corrects this problem in scientific and prudent way.

  114. tell them to make a video of their run, yoga stairs whatever, take help or tape the phone to their heads doesn’t matter.

  115. Hello IH,
    I think the previous post summed it up extremely well (by Priya)
    Trekking is a sport and every sport needs it own sport specific training.
    You must be aware that there are trek training programs in several countries.
    Most of them have the following features
    1) they are 3 to 6 months long
    2) They have regular stuff like strength training the muscle groups needed for trekking, leg based cardio (not only running but a wide range of exercises of ones own choice like cycling, swimming, soccer, tennis etc.)
    3) But MOST importantly, they have hiking – with sack, with shoes. Sack weight and trek duration increased gradually, in different terrains. A trekker should train for trekking.
    4) Acclimatization is mandatory.

    Here are some links to good training programs for trekking across the globe

    May be this helps.

  116. There is a medical certificate that you demand from a trekker. Similarly also demand a physical fitness certificate. This could be done by tying up with some chains of fitness centers across the country where the trekker aspirants could get a fitness certificate from this certainly costs but there could be a nominal fee hike in the trek cost. For people coming from places where there are no fitness centers, they could be asked to upload videos. But for those coming from bigger/mid sized cities, this serves as a acceptable proof.

  117. Also, in replies, I personally liked two from India Hikes by Swathi, which tells me that India Hikes will do the right thing. I cut paste them here. They are from Swathi.



    I think pragmatic fitness training program is the need of the hour.

    Cheers and peace.

  118. Some problem with cut -paste above

    Also, in replies, I personally liked two from India Hikes by Swathi, which tells me that India Hikes will do the right thing. I cut paste them here. They are from Swathi.



    I think pragmatic fitness training program is the need of the hour.

    Cheers and peace.

  119. Hi Swathi,
    I agree BMI is no criteria. I’ve seen people who are thin, yet struggled in simplest of treks.
    You can ask if the smoke, coz a regular or chain smoker definitely has low oxygen carrying capacity in their blood. That should help.
    Another thing you can check for are group bookings. Not in all cases, but what I’ve observed is, ‘mostly’, larger the group, many of them might not have worked out seriously. They might be doing the trek for the sake of their friends.

    Hope this helps.

  120. I suggest

    To include first day as Acclimitisation day where a small trek (min 5 kms) nearby base camp should b organised with a time frame. You can select practise trek route having ascends-descends etc. Those who finish in time are through else they hv to pack up. I see indiahikes schedules do not have Acclimitisation day. Its very helpful as per my exp with other grps. This Strict condition shd be conveyed to participants when they book the trek and they should give you written or email acceptance. Then I think u can even skip current method of Fitness proof etc.

    1. Rahul,
      I agree 200% with what you have mentioned.
      Doing it the way you have suggested is scientific, ethical, conscientious and the right thing to do.
      Moreover, from India Hikes point of view, it is the only fool proof method. And one which is very practical and easy to implement.
      Moreover, several good trek orgs across the globe are already implementing it successfully and with great results.
      Seasoned trekkers amongst us will vouch that it works great from their personal experience.
      Its high time IH adopts to this good trekking practice.

  121. My suggestion is:
    01. India hike should continue educating people about hiking and preparation for hikes. Do not stress that much for running like 10 K program. There are many other ways to do Cardio exercises except running. We never run that speed on mountains. Please do not ask anyone to take these tests on the day we arrive on base camp. That can be fatal to many of the people. Always do light weight exertion on first day.
    02. Do give one extra night on base camp if you are going to start at 7,000 to 8,000 ft. elevation. For example instead of meeting people at Dehradun ask them to meet in Mussouri. That way people will have one night and half day to adjust at 6,000 feet and then go to base camp at 7,000 to 8,000 ft and stay there for one night and your problem is solved without increasing your cost of the trip. Staying at Dehradun at night to get the taxi in the morning does not do any good for Acclimatization.
    Moreover that cost will be on the hiker and not part of your trek cost.
    03. If the hike is 6 to 7 days then one night on 3rd or 4th you should descent and sleep at lower lever to adjust your body. I can guarantee you that your Success rate will be 98%. There is one route to Kilimanjaro by which you can summit it in five days but the success rate is about 70% and if you take 6 or 7 days route, the success rate to reach the summit is 97% because of acclimatization.
    03. You should have some prerequisite for hikes depending on the difficulty. Beginners should not be allowed to hike Mt Everest base camp or equal. There should be separate easy hikes for beginners for short periods of three to for days max. and not more than 8,000 to 9,000 ft. They can climb higher during the day time but come down and sleep at the same level. After few hikes on their belt, they should be allowed to go to next level. During those hikes they should be doing exercise to train them continuously. I can tell many of the people who come for the hike is once in life time or second hike may be after three years or ten years and they enjoy their bragging to friends and family for that one trip. That hike does not qualify them for going to next level. I assure IH that they will have constant flow of real hikers to keep their business running and helping people to enjoy the nature. Your management and intentions are otherwise very honest so far and not just for making money, That is my impression. It is easy to change ourselves than to change others. So let’s think about changing our program to fit to others than try to find ways to change those 7% cheaters. The locks are meant for honest people to keep them out not for thieves. They will break in no matter what you do. They love that challenge. Good luck and keep it up.

  122. Now about exercise:
    01. Jogging is very good for cardio and also loosing your weight but all people live in metropolitan cities who go for hiking. There are no soft tracks in cities. Only way you can jog is on hard surface that is road. It is very bad for your ankles, knees, and hip joints to get that pounding. In long run you will have problems in those joints. There are many other ways to get your cardio exercises. Do biking or join a biking group this will strengthen your muscles for hiking too. Do stair steps machine in gym or go up and down the stairs in your building or your office stairs. Don’t take elevator just climb the stairs. One of the most important thing to remember for cardio is that you have to maintain the optimum heart rate for min. 20 minutes. I gave that formula for calculating the optimum heart rate. which is 220-your age and 80% of that will be your optimum heart rate. You can go higher but not lower than than, for 20 minutes. Then only it will be effective. If you just climb the stairs for five minutes and quit by the time it reaches to the optimum, it is useless. It is still exercise but not for cardio. I see lot of people go to gym and work on treadmill. Some read their book and walk like evening walk, some run for two minutes and then walk and then run and walk. Again it is exercise but not cardio. Even playing tennis. is not exercise for cardio because the moment you stop to pick up the ball your heart rate drops. No good. I use elliptical machine in my gyp. Less pressure on my knees. When the weather is good I walk outside which is less boring. But don’t walk like you walk in mall which is worthless. I walk with speed of 8 km/hr which is called brisk walking. It burns more calories and no stress on your joints. You can do it on regular road. You can do aerobics also for your cardio but remember not to stop and take rest.
    Priya suggested to carry your back pack filled with everything and then walk. That is a great way to train yourself for hiking. I love photography so I always carry my camera bag with me which weighs 30 lbs and that keeps me in good shape for hiking.

  123. Just a thought –
    Why can’t IH think of trying to help/ accomodate these “unfit” trekkers in a different way? I don’t have a definitive answer as to how.. but wanted to open a different line of thought as well here compared to the view points and suggestions above.
    For ex. why not break the batch into two groups with two different guides based on BMI at the base camp? Of course, this would have to be thought through more in terms of economics of the trek itself. But at least this way each group can have its own pace and go about the trek. ( There might still be some people who might have to be sent back because of some reason. But I still think they need to own it up rather then you guys taking a hit for that)

    For most seasoned trekkers, I can understand it’s about the physical test they get during the trek and also being able to get in a flow and enjoying the scenery / experience.

    For the other “unfit” trekkers, it’s more about a life changing experience to be honest! Myself personally had done KGL in 2014, with no high altitude experience whatsover and you might have classified me as “unfit” at that point. But I did complete the trek successful, albeit with a few struggles. And I cannot begin to put in words the feelings I had at completion. It was pure Bliss. For me the trek was finally about that completion rather than enjoyment during the trek.

    All I am trying to say is clearly there are two types of trekkers you see coming to IH. How about thinking to work with differently/ separately? You guys are not just guides.. these treks are life changing for many.

    P.S. I humbly request everyone not to take this to heart. I am not trying to argue against the fitness regime proposed here. That’s still critical, but at least this way you can support people where it’s needed more and not distract others who don’t want to be!

  124. About taking ‘unfit’ trekkers to higher altitudes, being a medical doctor myself, I would strongly advice against it. There is a lot of research on high altitude and pre existing health conditions and to take people who can not cope, could be gravely injurious to their own health. I agree with IH 100% that there should be some checks. It is in our own best interest.

    But ‘unfit’ tag can be changed. What I would suggest instead is a fitness program of 3-6 month duration, prior to trek, tailored to trekking, building required skills gradually. It exists in many places and it works great and its fun. With proper training, the so called ‘unfit’ trekkers will start getting fit and ready. Can surely complete but more importantly, will enjoy much more.

    On this thread itself, we have so many seasoned trekkers who have shared some very helpful hints about their own fitness regimen (to name a few Dee Dee, David, Gajanan Shashtri, Suneel, Pradeep, Aniket and so many others). IH can open a new thread where they get suggestions from seasoned trekkers about their pre trek fitness routine. Also IH can study and understand good trek training programs across the world. Then they can take an informed decision about a good trek prep program. Currently program proposed by IH is inadequate and biased towards running (I am a regular half marathoner myself but after I started training specifically for treks, my trek performance increased several folds. Hence fun and joy on treks also increased several folds.)

    Also, as Pradeep mentions above, with an excellent example of Mt. Kili, there are several studies linking proper acclimatization (safe acclimatization protocol) to success ratio on treks. Converse is also true. We violate this safe acclimatization protocol at our own risk and because of our ignorance.

    So three key factors to increase success ratio on treks – right pre trek training program for minimum 3-6 months, must follow safe acclimatizing protocol and must eat well and hydrate well on trek.

    Pre training program is our individual responsibility.

    Following safe acclimatizing protocol is responsibility of IH (as well as individual. On trek, one should not gain too much altitude too fast.)

    Proper food and hydration is also our individual responsibility because IH provides good food and clean water.

    We cannot hope to get the right results by following the wrong practices. This is true at individual as well as organizational level.

    1. Priya this message is for you. I am excited to see a doctor hiking. My parents wanted me to be a doctor but I did not have any heart to cut the frog in high school so decided to become an architect. The closest I came near to a doctor is Building doctor. I specialize in medical buildings. I always wanted to help people. I asked many of my Doctor friends to go with me on hiking so that we can hike one week and one week we can help people in those mountains giving medicines and doing minor surgeries. But none of them wanted to go hiking. You are the right person. Is it possible we can get a group of your friends who would like to go on hiking and help people in villages? I do lot of Philanthropic work on my own. I provide water pumps in villages, provide solar lights, buy books and school supplies for the kids and give scholarships for them to study as much as they want, This time I plan to take solar street lights and reading glasses. In my last hike I realized that people who live deep inside the mountain area don’t have any reading glasses. They manage their life without them. This time i will be taking 200 to 300 hundred reading glasses with me to give away who ever needs them. I would like to buy a large van or bus and make a small dispensary to go to near by villages and help people with cataract surgeries. Of course I will pay for all that. But it will be nice to have doctors who will spare their time to do that. I have many other projects to do but they don’t need doctors. Just think about it. All people who love sports are aggressive and I see that quality in you. Please think about it and let me know. It is ok if you can’t do it because of your situation but may be you can help introduce me to people who can help. Please E mail me – [email protected] Thanks.

  125. Having done one high altitude trek (Bhrigu Lake Trek) with you I could already realise that the fitness protocol (not the exercises) is not enough to gauge the fitness of a trekker. Having gone through as much as comments as I could, I will try not to repeat suggestions:

    1. Declaring a trekker fit if they complete 5 kms run in stipulated time: I could run 5 kms in 30-35 mins but having declared fit for the trek by my coordinator, I did not give much importance to squats and climbing stairs which I feel could have prepared me better. I started with enthusiasm, but the reason I did not dedicate myself to do better because my coordinator declared me fit only after sending my screenshot after the first run. I may have good stamina but the endurance required on a high altitude trek cannot be measured by one 5 km run. This has to be monitored for a longer period before a coordinator declares a trekker fit. You don’t know if the runner experienced DOMS and did not run the next day. Daily tracking is important because one doesn’t get even a day’s rest in high altitude.

    2. Also implement exercises that are easier to record if squats cannot be recorded (assuming climbing stairs can be recorded).

    3. Try exploring other apps that can allow you to monitor more effectively.

    4. Diamox intake should be made mandatory after a certain height. Few trekkers in my batch suffered loose motions and yet we were advised to avoid Diamox (citing it is not required) and take meds that control motions. Guess what, it didn’t help. Hence it should be taken after trekkers reach a certain altitude.

    5. Associate with local agents (where these trekkers come from) to monitor applicants’ fitness right before the trek. (you can get in touch with me for elaborate explanation on this)

  126. I agree with some trekkers when they say that running 5 k or 10 k couple of months before the trek or just few days prior to it is no criteria for fitness. The fitness regime suggested by you should also be strictly followed. However, you have no way to know if the participant is indulging in all the fitness activities, apart from the run (because they have to record it in on an App). In all these 20 years of my trekking experience where in most treks I too had been group leader, I have noticed that even hard core trekkers face altitude sickness and some new comers complete it quite successfully without any health issues. I have also done Bhrigu Lake, Solang, Rohtang passes with a group and Kedarkantha with India Hikes. During Bhrigu Lake, only seven of us reached the top while others sat down mid way. Among those who gave up mid way were some very seasoned trekkers including the team leader, a lady, who had 20 years experience then in conducting treks while among those who completed the trek were first timers.
    It is true that many first timers take up high altitude treks for various reasons including proving something to someone or to themselves. I have seen most of such trekkers (can I even call them trekkers?) crumble when they are back home. One of my friend is preparing for Mt Everest and he never even took the stairs to his home.
    Talking about me, I faced difficulty in the first patch of Kedarkantha, much to my dismay. I was the last one but in time. I realized the reason much later, when I returned home that it was due to two sleepless nights before the travel and very less sleep during the travel. The other two patches and back to the base camp was good except for the last hour when my shoe gave away.

    I believe it is the trekker’s/participant’s responsibility to follow fitness regimes. India Hikes has been sending number of daily exercises since we registered, apart from the 5 km run. Pre-trek programmes including frequent treks to smaller peaks, balanced diet and proper hydration should be compulsory. And yes, good sleep at least a week before the trek should be conveyed, Man can survive for days without food but not without sleep.
    For high altitude difficult treks, give preference to participants who have done at least 3-4 treks in the recent past or are into marathons. Those who participate in marathons, practice a good fitness routine and follow balanced diet.
    If you have been able to find out that people fake their fitness, then why didn’t you just ask them to withdraw? They would never have been in the trekking group till they were actually fit. A safe and healthy trek is anytime better than otherwise.

  127. The first golden rule for any sport is to have good health, fitness and discipline. If you do not have that then please prepare yourself and then start dreaming what you want. Hiking is also a sport and needs lot of discipline. Just like some one stressed that jogging is the best exercise for cardio, beauty is only at high altitude and it is the only life changing experience of life. Without that your life is incomplete. That is all wrong. It is like frog in a well. He goes around the well in the water and his world is over. He can’t get out and thinks that is the best world. Let me tell you that I have lots of hobbies in my life and play lots of sports. Everyone one of them has a life changing experience. You have to work hard to achieve them. Just dreaming does not work. One of those hobbies is photography. I travel around the world somewhere every month to see beautiful things to shoot. Watch national Geography Chanel and any place beautiful to shoot, I fly immediately to go there to enjoy the beautiful nature. Natural beauty is everywhere and you don’t need to hike up to high altitude to feel it. It is in Amazon forest of South America, desserts of middle East, jungles of Africa, Antarctica glaciers, Islands to Galapagos, Patagonia in Chile, Europe and canyons in USA and so on. I can give you the list. Hiking is a sport and you need to be fit for that. For seeing beauty, you don’t have to work that hard and still get life changing experience. There is no beauty in hiking Kilimanjaro which is 19,341 ft. high. It is a sport only. The beauty is at the base of Kilimanjaro in Masai Mara, Serengeti, Victoria falls. India hike is a hiking company. They explain you about the beauty of those mountains but beauty is in plains also and you can hike there too. Hiking does not mean only high altitude. Get started from lower altitude and enjoy your life without struggling. Don’t do the things because your friends did that. Do what you like and prepare yourself first for that and then do it. Some people feel that we have to give chance to people who are not fit. Bite only what you can chew. If your happiness depends on others, you will never be happy in your life. If you have sympathy for others then please join me helping lot of poor people around the world. Kids who would like to have chance to study and go to school and make their life than helping some rich guy who eats so much and cannot maintain his BMI does not want to exercise but can pay for his or her trip and fake his test and then wants all people to wait and carry him to the top. Sorry , I don’t have any sympathy for those.
    We are now discussing these ideas of safety, how to improve our hiking pleasure but so far did not hear anything from Swathy, India Hike. Is anyone listening or we are just wasting our time?

    1. Hi Priya,
      Thanks for your reply. I know lot of NGO who are doing philanthropic work. My thinking is little different. I don’t want to just pay money and feel good for helping people. I want to spend my time and sweat along with that. I am independent and don’t need money from any one for what I do. This way I can make my decision on spot whom to help and what kind of help needed and get it done and move on. I only bite what I can chew. I don’t want to become large organization. I ask Rotary club sometimes to get me people whom I can help and they have been very kind to do that. Last year I paid for 70 cataract surgeries in town near Patiala, punjab and handed over 30 wheel chairs with the help of Rotary member. I do on small scale only. Thanks .
      You are right about this discussion of hiking. People are very happy to talk and vent their frustrations and go back to do what they do. More over this is private organization and they have to do what is best for them. For me I will be honest what I do and let other people do according to their consciousness. I will go with IH any chance I get and let them handle their problems themselves. The day I feel it is waste of my time, I will move on instead of complaining.

  128. As far as this thread is concerned, the topic has been beaten to death by now.
    Thanks all for all the great inputs. I learnt a lot from this thread.
    We hope IH takes the right decision. Hope to see the right decisions reflected in IH policies soon.
    Good luck.

  129. There are already been quite a lot of comments and suggestions and I could not go through all of them before posting, so I apologize if this has already been suggested!

    If Nike Running app is the preferred method, then the trek participants can participate in a “challenge” by making their profile public and tagging their training runs with a unique hashtag that you can decide (like, trek name + date or something). That way you can directly check the details on the app itself.

    Also, the suggestion to create a Whatsapp group for a particular batch to encourage accountability and motivation is a great idea!

  130. Hi Swati. ..point of fitness level is very vital in high altitude trekking & expiditiions.
    I just returned from Leh after summitng Kangytse II 6250 mts on 23 July 2018 with team of 11 climbers . 10 summited out of 11. Preperation of this challenging expidition started from Dec 2017. Thanks to White Majic who handled this climb & were top class in all areas food, safety, arrangements, coordinations, planning, personal attention to health monitoring etc.
    The sucess to KY 2 I attribute to hard preparation. Few points I like to share with you :
    1..I ran for 40-50 Kms per week & end up to 160-200 Kms per month with average speed 6.20-6.5 minutes per km.

    2..non stop climb 300 Mts with gradient 35-45 degrees 5 tines in less than 3 hrs. Twice a month.

    3..non stop hiking for 6 hrs for distance 18 Kms. Twice a month.

    4.apart from above mentioned Preperation surya namaskar, flexibility, squats, swimming, yagasans & pranayam are the part of Preperation.

    Reason for one climber who couldn’t summit is possibly BMI. ..He is over weight & gave up just 100-150 mts below summit. Cycling & hiking was part of his preperation. …may be he failed in mental strength rather than physical strength.

    So fit body is key to sucess. If any one faking it’s fitness it’s not only fatal but decides to over all health within the team. Only way to stop such fakers is to test the individuals in front of group leader & remove the non performers with out lineancy.

    Mental & endurance test also needs to be conducted on the over stress body for expidition above 6 K.

    BMI part can’t be overlooked &;dealt seriously. Lighter bodies makes lot of difference specially on slopes which we experienced in our KY 2.

    Summit day usually the longest & decider day which invariably varies from 12-18 hrs & usually time with gap between last sleep & next sleep is from 30 36 hrs…so one should kbow body behaviour under these stress full conditions. It should be included in the part of preperation.

    Please convey my remberance to Arjun.

  131. Hi Swati,
    It is good to see IH paying so much attention to ensure trekkers successfully complete the trek.
    I have been to Sandakphu and Kedarkantha with IH and have seen an unfit guy suffer from HAPE only to be sent back, two ‘fit’ guys struggle and an absolutely unfit guy beat the rest of us hands down with his sheer enthusiasm and willpower. There is absolutely no way to know in advance if someone is going to successfully complete the trek. No one should be discouraged, instead beginners should be encouraged to participate in the easier treks. The sales representative can play a role there after getting to know an individual’s lifestyle.

    Someone already suggested the concept of fitness buddy which is actually a great idea. Experienced trekkers who have hiked with IH can volunteer and ensure the beginners attain the required level of fitness. I understand that not everyone is into running and therefore suggest to have a variety of sports to be picked from e.g badminton, football, tennis, cycling to name a few. Let there be volunteers for each of these activities and you may ask 3-4 people to buddy with him/her. If not on a daily basis, they need to meet on weekends.

    The other point where you mentioned that unfit trekkers are taking away precious resources, I can understand where this is coming from especially during peak seasons when there are 20-22 individuals to be taken care. But your trekkers can come to your rescue. I am sure most experienced trekkers would love to take some additional responsibility. The trek leader can ask one or two experienced trekkers to help in maintaining discipline and in taking care of people who are struggling (some pep talk at that stage would certainly help many). I also suggest that strong trekkers should be asked to remain at the back of the queue as much as possible so that slow trekkers can set the pace and that way the group stays closer and wont feel being left behind.

  132. Now its era of smartphones, it can do magic to disaster.

    The best solution is to have own Indiahikes app which includes
    1. Trek details
    – An easy interface as easy as Indiahikes page
    2. Login and registration
    3. Track fitness level of trekker
    – can be failproof as we need (GPS on / can track variation in speed/improvements in the fitness)
    – based on treks we can set goals
    – show notification to trekkers to remind about it
    – can avoid sending screenshots and dependency on third-party app
    – easy maintenance and easy access
    4. Each ongoing trek status
    – weather,
    – In which camp which batch is moving,
    5. Easy to connect and interact with trekkers and share details and so on.

  133. I went on a Roopkund trek in 2017 with IH. I noticed I was one of the very few who posted his fitness efforts. I don’t know why there was no action taken against those who did not. Six trek mates went back from Pathar Nachauni. Four of them over fitness issues.
    If IH is serious about fitness first it must take action against defaulters who don’t bother to even fake it.
    Next comes the question how to stop fakes. Get the participants to appear for a test in the big metros to be conducted by IH volunteers. For example all Calcuttans going for a trek in September can come to Dhakuria Lake on 2nd Sunday of August and appear for a test which I can conduct and send a report to IH. Finer details can be worked out.
    I am sure most participants are from the large cities and I can guarantee there will be volunteers every where.
    Think about it. Do a pilot anywhere and see how it goes. Then roll it out nationally.

  134. Hello Swathi,
    As rightly pointed out by some of the respondents it is not possible to judge the fitness level by one or two runs. Instead I suggest to ask all the participants to share their activities throuout
    the day for a week or two before the trek start. That will show the active time, distance covers, number of steps etc. This can be captured by many fitness apps like Google fit.

  135. Make it mandatory the HeartBeat stats, Include a HeartBeat Monitor gadget that you send/courier every Enrolled Tracker in advance to Trek for ones who don’t have it already, include cost of it in Booking amount, make it refundable on base camp. Benefits below:

    1) Lesser chances of faking the Heartbeat when clubbed with other Fitenss apps like “Nike Run”.
    2) People who keep it with them and don’t reach to Camp at stipulated time for any reason have already paid the cost. (Wao you just sold one 😉 )
    3) People who reach and still keep it possibly liked it so much that didn’t want to refund so you actually increased sales of that gadget(You again Sold one and this time to ones who can afford as well as didn’t just knew something like this exist but now loving it)
    4) People who reach and submit back should be happily given Refund Complete(or something like 95% of it just to cover your Gadget Depreciation or Courier costs).
    5) You turn out as Responsible organizers which simply don’t compromise of Fitness standards.
    6) Last but not the least ASK the Gadget makers for a discount or commission due to Bulk Buy..he hee

    I am soon coming for my 1st hike with IH, bit late in registering it but I promise won’t let you down on Fitness levels. I need that TREKFIT badge..oh yaa 🙂

  136. Ever considered a referral based, peer certified system ? Many first timers who trek with you, do so because someone recommended them to give India Hikes a try. If an India Hikes certified person (could be someone who has hiked or is hiking with India Hikes) certifies that to the best of their knowledge, person x is a fit trekker, then he/she is putting his reputation on the line and there may be social pressures on the first time trekker to take this seriously. Let there be incentives/disincentives on the certifier that ensures that he/she takes the certification process casually
    Something like this will work best if you have a strong core of regular/repeat trekkers.

  137. One approach of tackling this menace could be to make the trekkers capture their runs data in their phone as a video instead of just the screenshot. There are apps which allows capturing phone screen as a video and it will be pretty difficult to circumvent this.
    Now an issue this approach might create will be that you will have a lot of video data of around 45 mins to audit so it will be a bit difficult to scale this. Either you could have a team to manually audit this or you could ask your IT team to develop an artificial intelligence system to automatically audit the video logs. Let me know if this approach sounds reasonable or if you want to discuss further.

  138. Hi,

    I am not sure if the GPS On/Off indication is the post is correct. As per Nike’s support page, that’s the GPS signal strength indicator color inside the location marker icon:
    Green = Strong
    Yellow = Fair
    Red = Weak

    I am assuming this GPS signal strength might vary during the course of the run.

    A different support page mentions “If you are running in an area where GPS reception isn’t good, the Nike Run Club app will rely on the accelerometer to calculate your pace and distance, rather than using GPS information.”

    If I may offer a diverging opinion, group dynamics tend to get impacted by those who are fit as well. A fit trekker might offload the backpack and walk ahead of everyone else, stretching the group the same way as the last person. Or a few of the fittest may demand to take the more difficult route because “arrey hum to chal sakte hai na!” In my humble opinion, these attitudes also affect the harmony within the group.

  139. Hi Swati,

    I feel Nike Run Club is an app that can be put to proper use. Apart from KM run and time taken and GPS coordinates, NRC app also provides “achievements” and “run levels” which indirectly gives you history, consistency and endurance level of runner. I have completed “orange level” (50km) and am Few km short on “green level” (250km). Its easy to send you screen shot of couple of single runs of 5km just a month before trek, but someone keen to get fit for trek will have couple of runs in a day, few runs in a week and at least 12 runs in 3-4 weeks time with which person will cross “orange level” and also have achievements like “3x streak” or “5x streak”. I now also know approx time a person will take for 5km if he is jogging or brisk walking or cycling. It will be lot easier to analyse such data to gauge fitness level of trekker than from screen shots of few runs. Its easy to fake few runs and screen shots, but its not easy to fake historical data that comes out from the app. I feel data on “average pace” “time taken” and “distance run” and “achievements” shall suffice the purpose to screen out fake and genuine participants.

  140. Just thinking out loud here..
    I have seen this problem myself. I’ve done two treks with IH.
    Since Indiahikes as an organization is rapidly growing and trekkers come from so many different cities,
    you could come up with a fitness test of sorts – in the major cities that trekkers can get certified from.

    If a trekker wants to do a moderate trek, IH can set fitness parameters and test the trekkers and certify the them individually. This will serve as a legitimate means to authenticate trekkers, refresh their fitness test every three months for example.
    I know this can’t happen for everybody, but a major population may get certified.
    And to be able to clear the test, trekkers will do all the prep they can.

  141. Hi.
    Just discovered your site thru an ad on the net.
    I am not an avid trekker -But a recreational endurance sports enthusiast. I have completed the Half Iron Triathlon, Multiple Half Marathon runs and a 200km Cycling Brevet too. Incidentally, I am a Docter too.
    We have been to treks in Uttrakhand to Tungnath-Chandrashila and Deoriyataal. As well as the Tiger nest In Bhutan.
    Your criteria of 35 Min 5Km is not fully appropriate. It checks speed more than endurance. I take that Endurance is more important on treks than speed.
    A 10km run/Run-walk is a better indicator.
    It will do good if you can ask for a time certificate from the numerous 10k runs that happen all over the country( Mumbai Marathon asks for a time certifiacte-So do many other endurance events like triathlons)
    This will also make it difficult for people to fake the result which they can on an app.
    Hope it helps.
    Dr Rajneesh Kutumbale

    1. Thanks Dr Rajneesh. What you say does make sense.

      What seems a bit of an issue is that many of our trekkers come from tier-2 cities where city marathons are still not a norm.
      In such cases we have to resort back to time recordings from fitness apps. A general, uniform test for all trekkers is what we are looking for.

      Even we want to test the trekker’s endurance rather than speed. Can you suggest some more methods to do this?


  142. Hi Swathy,
    Sticking to the issue of trekkers faking their fitness status as per the criterias set by IH, I think, simply ask them to send their running videos (1 video/week for 4 consecutive weeks) instead of screenshots.

  143. May be give different options to prove fitness apart from running. Personally I would never prefer running as its more pressure on my knees. I would love it if there is an option to say walk for an hour or even more covering “x” kms(or even a mix of slow jog and walk for an hour or so). And yes its not just one walk but may be say 5 one hour walks for a difficult trek. A walk is harder to fake compared to a run as it would require greater biking skills to go so slow 😀

  144. What you can do is incorporate an extra day in your trek at the base camp. The trekkers should be asked to do a 5 km jog around the campsite in 35 minutes, wherein the Trek leader and Assistant trek leader monitor their performance.
    This will not only help in identifying unfit trekkers at the beginning but also allow trekkers to acclimatise to the high altitude and climate change. A bit strenuous task for trekkers but better safe than sorry.

  145. Hi
    This may be bit strange method but if applicants are faking using nike and other apps then you can check option of having an actual video call with him/ her and monitoring actual run.. i know bit strange but this I think will be fool proof ?
    I read about Fitbit but not sure if everyone has it or may want to invest in same.
    The fact that one unfit trekker can spoil the experience for whole group certainly calls for some strict validation of proofs.
    Bharat Rajput

  146. Hi Swati,

    2 options can be considered –

    A) Indiahikes partners with Fitness Centres like Talwalkars to assess the fitness levels of the hikers who are based in India. They will of course charge a small fee which will be acceptable to hikers considering the risk of ruining their hike if they are not fit.

    B) You put all the hikers through a short Fitness test before the actual hike and asking the unfit ones to return.

  147. Hi Swathi,
    This is a bit costly idea but worth it..
    India hikes can join hands with trek groups of different state and ask any new trekers to complete one of the particular trek and get a certificate..
    As it is would be a partnership with India hikes these organizations would not give a fake certificate

  148. I did the Pin Bhaba Pass last year and here is a short feedback on how IH can be more stringent at the backend first before worrying about trekkers faking their fitness…

    1. Many of my trekmates mentioned that they had not infact sent in the requisite 5k under 35 minutes proof ( or any fitness proof for that matter)to IH. Infact we had one trekker who had not even managed to get a medical cert giving the all clear from the doc. Yes, we were all in relative good health and fitness so didn’t have too much trouble on the slope, except for a couple of people on the long pass day.. But this was just good fortune and something that could have gone very wrong otherwise. I understand that when dealing with the numbers that you do sometimes instances like this do fall through the cracks but i guess it’s something you’ll have to look into.

    2. We also had a few foreigners who flew into the country and joined the trek almost immediately.. Again, thankfully they were all super fit, but because it was their first time in India, almost all of them has stomach issues by the time we were at our base camp at Kafnu. Perhaps it would be good to include a note on spending a few days getting used to India / the food etc for first time visitors… Again this was something that could have gone very very wrong given the altitudes we were climbing to! And hats off to our trek leader who handled every case with great responsibility and skill.

    3. Lastly coming to trekkers faking it – the kind of emails i got from the trek manager actually put the fear of death in me and made sure i trained hard and well for the trek… For those not reading emails/ not sending in proofs etc, perhaps a phone call explaining the risks as you do in your emails would help. I know it’s resource intensive, but perhaps something to think about. A camping organization, i used to work for, used to conduct pre-camp orientations – perhaps something to that effect conducted over Skype /remotely would work great.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *