When it comes to adventure in nature we generally tend to mix hiking and trekking more often as compared to mountaineering. There is no clear distinction in our head when it comes to hiking and trekking, whereas when we hear the word ‘mountaineering’ we think it has to do something with climbing vertical mountains with equipment, etc.
All three activities require you to be in nature and the best way to distinguish each one is by categorizing by the level of difficulty. This will be helpful for you to choose the right activity based on your physical ability and skill level.
The simplest one is hiking, where there is a well-marked trail and the difficulty level is from easy to moderate. These are usually half-day to one day trip like most of the hikes around Sahyadri region in Maharashtra.
There are different types of terrains, which can vary, from flat to steep. You go hiking on a mountain or along a coastline. Hiking is relatively easier than mountaineering or trekking but it can still be challenging. It normally finishes in the same place where it started. There are exceptions where one can end the hike at some other point. Usually, hike ranges anywhere between 2 hours to 8 hours. If you are doing a hike with elevation then you need to be in a good physical condition. A general rule of thumb is that you can hike (1312 feet) of elevation per hour.
When it comes to trekking it is slightly more difficult than hiking and less than mountaineering. It looks more similar to hiking, the difference being that treks are longer. It is usually more than a couple of days. So when you trek you have to carry your tents too because you will have to camp at someplace or there can be an option of some huts, lodge in the mountains where you can take rest.
Treks normally start in one place and end in a different one. The distance varies anywhere from 40 km to several hundred kilometres, actually depends on how long is the trek. Globally some treks take a couple of weeks to complete. Trekking is more challenging than hiking because you will be walking a lot more and will need to be in good physical and mental condition.
Out of the three mountaineering is the most challenging. It requires a lot of technical knowledge and as the name suggest you have to go up the mountain. Most of the time it is 5000 ft above the sea level.
Mountaineering is a multiple-day trip where you need to be in top physical condition, you need to have the technical knowledge, you need superior equipment. One of the biggest assets you need is mental strength. Trust me it can get very lonely up there while climbing, you will have to survive snowstorms, walk on glaciers, and long hours with a low level of oxygen.
All the three-sport makes you mentally and physically strong, hiking is my go-to sport when I have a Saturday or Sunday off, I like to take friends or people who are interested in hiking. I do trekking with a very close group of people whom I know well because it involves long walks and the harmony of the group is very important.
Mountaineering, on the other hand, I do with some technically sound friends. It is the one I love the most, even to prepare for it is lots of fun.
If you are a beginner then set your goals, start with hiking and graduate to mountaineering. Nature is a lot more fun when you hang around and spend time there.