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I wish to circumambulate around Mount Kailash on foot. This is roughly 33 miles of mountaineous terrain.

Many people do this for spiritual reasons, i.e circumambulate once to wash away your sins, circumambulate 108 times to attain nirvana.

I just want to circumambulate around Mount Kailash because I want to.

What type of physical (and/or spiritual training) do I require? I understand this can take years, even decades.

Some information about me.

lady in mid-30s (people swear I am in early 20s)

5'4", 140lbs (last time I weighed myself was Jan 2016)

mostly eat fruits, veggies, fiber

exercise 4 to 5 days a week, perform Surya Namaskar (started with 3 reps in Summer 2015, I'm up to 69 reps now, goal to reach 108 reps by end of 2017), plus light weights

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You have a wonderful goal! It is good that you understand it can take time to work up to this trip. I recommend that you think in terms of several years, not decades, because (a) after 50, most people don't get better physically, they just manage not to get worse and (b) unexpected things happen.

As for what kind of physical and spiritual training you require: You don't say if you have any high altitude experience. In his good answer, Charlie Brumbaugh says that the trail starts at 15,000 feet and includes an 18,000 foot pass. Experience hiking and sleeping at altitudes of 10,000 to 13,000 feet is essential (and higher, if you can). You can easily find long hikes in this range in Colorado and California.

Why do I think this is essential? Some people, even if they are very fit, are miserable at altitude and if you are one of them, you don't want to find it out in Tibet. This is of those low probablility//unacceptable consequences cases.

As for spiritual: this isn't exactly spiritual, but you should find out how much more you can do -- and how to do it -- when you yearn to just stop. You'll figure this out for yourself by carrying a modest pack at altitude.

If you are going with a group, you need to understand what you can do. Can you keep up with the group schedule? Will you have fun? If all your experience is at sea-level, you won't know.

I envy you having this in your future.

Afterthought: You don't mention your tolerance for hard beds or no beds, being dirty, peeing and pooping behind a rock, less than gourmet cuisine....you can figure this out at sea level, but you need to know. And of course, you need to be aerobically fit at sea level.

  • You don't mention your tolerance for hard beds or no beds, being dirty, peeing and pooping behind a rock, less than gourmet cuisine....you can figure this out at sea level, but you need to know. And of course, you need to be aerobically fit at sea level. --- Wow, that's something I must think about!!! Behind a rock??? – Rhonda Jul 3 '16 at 16:37
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    @Rhonda Or behind some bushes. You may stay at guesthouses at night -- I don't know -- but from morning to night, you are on your own as far as calls of nature go. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Jul 3 '16 at 17:03
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According to this webpage, the trail starts at 15,000 feet and includes a 18,000 ft pass. My recommendation would be to do some aerobic exercises, to prepare for the lower oxygen levels. I sure that any trip would include an acclimatization phase, but being prepared would certainly help. Also, if you have the opportunity to train at higher elevations in advance, that would give you an idea of what is required.

I think the bottom line is that you are not going to regret being in better shape.

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