How to Get Grade A in Basic Mountaineering Course

One of my readers* wants to know how he can get grade A in Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC). Here are my suggestions and insider tips for him and other aspiring mountaineers.

(* I have deleted reader’s name on his request. The reader does not want unnecessary publicity.)

The first prerequisites are right attitude and excellent fitness level because mountaineering is mentally and physically demanding.

Start Preparing 6 Months before Joining the Course

To maximize enjoyment and your chances to secure grade A, start preparing at least six months before the commencement of the course.

Full body fitness is essential. But pay special attention to heart, knees, and upper body while working out.

Although mountaineering is a mélange of many and varied activities, climbing and trekking are two principal activities. Climbing requires upper body strength, whereas trekking needs a strong heart and healthy knees. There are a few suggestions for strengthening these body parts:

Build Upper Body Strength: Push-ups, Chin-ups, and Pull-ups

To build and / or improve upper body strength, do variety of

  • push-ups (standard, wide, narrow, single hand, clapping, finger),
  • chin-ups (standard, wide, narrow, single hand, with weight), and
  • pull-ups (standard, wide, narrow, single hand, with weight)

You should be able to chase the minimum target of 50 push-ups, 50 chin-ups, and 50 pull-ups in six months. However, start with the lowest count and gradually increase the repetitions.

Strengthen Heart and Knees: Cardio with / without Rucksack Weighing 20 Kilograms

Running and skipping are good cardio exercises because they are simple. You can do these on alternate days to avoid boredom. Do cardio at least for one hour daily.

But do activity specific cardio too regularly. If your home town has a hillock, find 15-25-kilometer-long trail that features moderate and steep ascents. Fill your rucksack with 5-kilogram load and walk this trail (s) regularly. Increase the rucksack weight gradually to reach the target weight of 20 kilograms. Do not carry 20-kilogram rucksack on the first day. If you do so, you will hurt yourself badly. Increase the weight gradually that is why I suggested you to start preparation six months before the commencement of the course.

If your home town does not feature a hillock, use staircase in your multistory building. Climb the staircase up and down. Do not forget to carry your 5-kg (…20-kg) rucksack while doing staircase-based cardio.


Do not forget to stretch before and after the exercise.

Eat nutritious food daily.


You need not join any kind of fitness classes or expensive gyms. You can do all these exercises on your own. Use your own bodyweight.

Learn Fun Activities for Fire-Less Camp Fires

There will be many fire-less camp fires during the course. Learn some jokes, poetry, songs, or any other useful activity with which you can entertain your course mates. This will take you a step closer to your dream grade.

Take Preparatory Steps After Reporting at the Training Institute

Do not avoid acclimatization tasks.

Follow the acclimatization instructions given by the instructors sincerely for your own benefit. If you do not acclimatize well within the prescribed time frame, you will not be able to participate in the course activities.

Understand Evaluation Process

You will be evaluated for the following:

  • Ability to grasp the techniques taught in the classroom and demonstrated in the field.
  • Ability to apply these techniques in the field. You will be asked to demonstrate the techniques.
  • Ability to play your role in the team.
  • Ability to reach the destinations within the prescribed time frame. But that does not mean you have to race and try to be always first one to reach the day destination. But you should not trail behind the team. If the instructors and your team have to await you every now and then because you are slow, they will not like you.
  • Ability to cook a meal with limited ration provided to you.
  • Ability to survive camping atmosphere.
  • Ability to stay away from your family happily. Do not feel homesick.
  • Ability to survive on the food served by the institute. Do not be fussy.

Insider’s Tips

Don’t Bunk Off Sessions

Do not bunk off any of the sessions during 28-day course.  Bunking off sessions on the pretext of medical and / or lame excuses will impact your grade.

Avoid Arguments and Fights

Do not argue with instructors and pick fight with instructors.

Be Extra Careful about Theft

While sharing hostel dormitories and tents, there are always chances of theft, especially of valuables and the equipment issued by the institute. I have experienced both.

I lost my favorite watch because the battery of the watch  had exhausted and I kept the watch in the pocket of my rucksack. The watch disappeared in night.

Once I carried my own mess tin, a kind of utensil used for cooking and packing food. One of my course mates stole it because she had misplaced her mess tin issued by the institute. She either had to return the mess tin issued by the institute or pay the cost of the tin to get the certificate. But she preferred stealing.

Remember, everyone has to clean the equipment issued by the institute and return them at the end of the course before the graduation day. If you do not return, you may have to pay the cost of the missing gear.

Avoid Falling SickTips to Get Grade A in Basic Mountaineering Course

Do not fall sick.

Keep yourself warm and protected to avoid cold.

Cold or any other type of sickness will impact your performance.

Do not use medicines or any other substances to acclimatize and improve performance. If you work out regularly for six months, there will be no need for these substances.

Maintain Hygiene

Learn the art of maintaining hygiene using small quantity of water and without using soap / any other washes. During your stay in the institute hostel, you will find shortage of water on several occasions because some of your team mates will use more than their share. So the students who use the wash room last, sometimes, do not get any water. At base camp and beyond, you will get just one mug of hot water to do the morning chores. But that does not mean be dirty.

You can keep yourself clean without using deodorants and scents. Carry a small piece of sponge and use it efficiently because sponge absorbs water quickly and dries also fast. Carry an extra pair of inner clothes instead of carrying four shirts and four pants. Carry less shirts and pants. Carry more inners and socks.

Some of the instructors will even tell you that they use their inners repeatedly. How? For example, one underwear may be used for several days by wearing on both sides. This seems funny at the first instance. But this is extremely unhygienic.

Neither stink nor get infected.

Earlier one of readers also asked whether wearing long hairs and beards is permitted during the course. Both are allowed. In fact, many instructors will not shave at and beyond the base camp because of inadequate or no supply of hot water. Another reason to keep the hairs is warmth and protection against the cold climate these natural growths provide.

Avoid Backbiting and False Allegations

Jealousy is probably human nature. In mountaineering camps / expeditions, simple or complex, you will always meet some people who always feel jealous of others, indulge in backbiting, and make false allegations. Probably because these expeditions get you some glory. Completing a mountaineering camp is after all a big achievement.

The false allegations by your course mates impact your grades, sometimes drastically, say the grade A reduced to B or even C. Try to avoid unnecessary disputes and fights because not all instructors and principals believe in natural justice. Many of these instructors simply make decisions listening just one side of the story.  So, for this type of authority, the accuser is always right and the accused is labeled as the culprit without being heard.

Last but not least, don’t be afraid of mountains.



  1. Hello,

    How many days in advance should I apply for HMI’s BMC scheduled for Nov 2020?

  2. Hi sir iam lakshmi…
    I am just 17 years old….I am now preparing for my 12th exam… My plan is to join the himalayan institute after my exam…For basic mountaineering….Sir iam not physically much stronger… Please give me a good suggestion….There is no workout centres available here…..

    • Hi Lakshmi,

      To be a mountaineer, you need strong body and mind. You have to do cardio exercises (walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, cycling…), walking with 10-15kg load as you will carry your rucksack on your own during BMC, and upper body exercises (push ups and pull ups)… These are strenuous exercises. Do warm up and stretch before doing the exercises. Start slowly and with small number of repetitions. Do not rush. Do not expect results in one day. Do eat nutritious meals everyday.

      Please read How to Get Grade A in Basic Mountaineering Course.

      Important: Before starting any strenuous exercises, especially, the exercises suggested here, go for a thorough health (medical) checkup. And depending on your current body condition, do the exercises.

      Best of luck!

  3. Hi
    Thanks. I’ve enrolled for the basic course in HMI and it’s due in May 2019. I’ve just a month to prepare. Ive read your blog which mentions preparation should be at least 6 months prior. I’ve been exercising regularly and can run at least 5 kms but without a weight. I haven’t tested with weight yet. Any suggestions pls. Since I’ve limited time. I will be grateful if you can advise your email I’d so that I can connect personally for further guidance.

  4. HI There

    My course is schedule in last batch of 2019. I am 35 years old working telecom Engineer. I had L4/L5 disc protrusion in 2013. Since then i avoid doing push ups and chin ups and other exercises which can have bad impact on my lower back. So i am anticipating that rock climbing and ice climbing task can injure my back.
    I do not thing, trekking will be a difficult task as every year i go for 5 to 7 days trek(Kailash yatra, Kinnar Kailash, Shri-Khand Mahadev etc).
    So please suggest how to prepare for this rock climbing and ice climbing task.

    With Regards
    Utsav Sharma

    • Hi Utsav,

      It is unfortunate that you had disc protrusion.

      Since we are not medical professionals, we cannot answer your query.

      Consult a qualified, reliable medical professional.


  5. Hi, i had met with an accident few years ago where I injured and fractured my right clavicle, there is a metal plate below my right clavicle. will this injury be a hindrance to enroll for basic mountaineering course at HMI.

    • Hello Shalini,

      How is your clavicle / collar bone now?

      Since I am not a medical professional, I cannot answer your question.

      I would suggest that you consult a reliable doctor. You may ask this question to the doctor who treated you after the accident.

      Every problem has a solution
      Every dream has a chance to flourish
      If handled in a right manner by right professional at right time

      Best of luck & Cheers!

  6. Hi there. Please tell me if one can repeat the BMC to improve the grades. I have read that when you repeat the BMC , the second certificate would be considered as null and void.. I am planning to do BMC but wanted to know if you could repeat the course as one needs to have A grade for AMC. RASAP. Thanks.:)

    • As per the rules of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), repeating the same course is not permitted.

    • Update
      Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering (JIM) also does not allow repeating BMC and AMC. However, the candidates may apply for BMC and AMC to another institute for improving the grades.

      Update: A Happy News
      ABVIMAS Manali allows repeating mountaineering courses to improve the grades.

    • Hello,
      My BMC is scheduled for June 2019 in ABVIMAS. I’m severly underweight i.e. my BMI is 16, Would that affect my performance?
      But I’m physically active, I do workout regularly which includes warmup, stretching, squats, pushups, finger pushups, mountain climbers, pullups and swimming twice a week.
      Please suggest a good workout plan with no. of sets and reps.

      • Hello,

        Sorry for delay as I was in remote Himalayas (unconnected with the Web) collecting stories for the year’s first issue of ABHA. Next time I will try to reply in time.

        I hope you have successfully completed the B.M.C. in June 2019. Would you mind sharing your experience with my readers? Did your low B.M.I. (16) impact your performance and final grade?


  7. Thank you for the guide, this helps !!
    Personally, I feel 50 push-ups is easy and seems realistic however 50 chin-ups, 50 pull-ups seems to be too high : maybe I am wrong.

    • Literally, to climb means to go up.

      That is what you do when you go for mountaineering. In fact, rock climbing and ice climbing replace walking / trekking when the terrain becomes vertical or almost vertical. This type of terrain prohibits walking.

      You climb where you cannot walk /trek. Is it not?

      When you cannot walk, you use your arms to move forward and upward i.e. feet play supportive role and the arms play main role for sustained action of going forward and higher. That is why chin-ups and pull-ups are required. Because climbing means pull your whole body weight to the next level.

      In six months, you can at least chase the target of 50 chin-ups and pull-ups. Because you want to be a mountaineer.

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