International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 15–19 | Cite as

Safer mountain climbing using the climbing heartbeat index

  • Akio SakaiEmail author
  • Hiroshi Nose
Original Article


As the numbers of middle-aged and elderly mountain climbers have increased with the general aging of the population, accidents during mountain climbing have increased recently. A possible cause of such accidents is an excessively difficult expedition plan. To enjoy safe mountain climbing, the plans must take account of the climber's fitness level. We developed a method to plan mountain climbing using the climbing heartbeat index (CHI). This study is based on the assumption that the work expended when climbing a mountain is equal to the potential energy of the body and load weights elevated to the height of the mountain, and that the work is proportional to the heart rate. The CHI was calculated by the following equation
$$ \hbox{CHI} = {\hbox{total number of heart beats during climbing} \over [\hbox{body weight }(\hbox{kg)} + \hbox{load weight }(\hbox{kg})] \times \hbox{altitude difference } (\hbox{m})} $$
The CHI values examined in this study (n = 94) showed very small standard deviations and were significantly correlated with the maximum oxygen uptake, O2 max (ml kg–1 min–1) (r = –0.934, P < 0.01); it showed a characteristic value corresponding to the fitness level in each subject. In addition, this value remained nearly unchanged even when the load was changed. Therefore, if the CHI value of an individual is known (it can be estimated from O2 max), safer mountain climbing can be planned accordingly. Once determined, this CHI value can be used repeatedly unless the fitness level of the individual changes.


Safer mountain climbing Climbing heartbeat index Potential energy 


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Copyright information

© ISB 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sports Medicine, Research Center on Aging and Adaptation, Shinshu University School of Medicine, 3-1-1 Asahi, Matsumoto 390-8621, Japan

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