Hiking Table Mountain: How fit must I be? – 20 October 2016

Despite its proximity to a city, Table Mountain is still a proper mountain marked by rugged and deceptive terrain, changeable weather and lots of cliff edges. Table Mountain hikes differ in overall elevation gain, ranging from 700 meters (about 2200 feet) to 950 meters (about 2900 feet). So how much fitness is needed to hike Table Mountain? Two factors come into play:

  1. If you’re not active – you don’t jog or gym or do sport ever, or only occasionally – then you need determination and enthusiasm to make up for your lack of fitness. You need to be prepared to push yourself physically. You really want to be hiking Table Mountain, not just dutifully tagging along with a partner or friend. While you will find the ascent tough, it won’t discourage you or prevent you from enjoying the experience. And it most certainly will give you a solid sense of achievement on reaching the summit.
  2. The less fit you are, the less you’re going to enjoy hiking Table Mountain, not factoring in your state of mind. Routes that involve scrambling are often favored by the less fit over mere slope-slogging. To enjoy the experience, with an average level of determination, you need a certain amount of fitness. A person who does 4 to 5 hours’strenuous exercise per week will manage well on most routes without fatigue detracting from the experience.

Table Mountain hiking routes very greatly in how strenuosu they are. The quickest and eaisest route (Platteklip Gorge) is also the least scenic and exciting, unfortunately, so if you want to experience the mountain properly, you either need to be up for some scrambling and cliff edges (e.g. India Venster), or you need a bit more fitness and stamina for the other, longer routes (e.g. Skeleton Gorge).

On a side note, there’s a big difference between fitness and stamina. Stamina is staying power: you might get out of breath quickly, but you need only a short rest to recover and can keep going like this for hours. When it comes to Table Mountain hikes, stamina is more important than fitness. Slow and steady wins the race.

(c) www.hiketablemountain.co.za