Let’s talk training: fundamentally the basis of all athlete training is to begin with strength. This is an often overlooked fact. Let me give you an example of why we need to be strong first.Let’s take a 5’4” woman who weighs 125#. She really wants to alpine climb, her goal is a Mt Baker trip. This will require a minimum of one but usually more nights out. Carrying a pack into a base came that weights 50 – 60#, with food for her climb, tent, stove, climbing equipment, extra layers. You get the picture. That pack weight is 1/3 to 1/2 of her body weight. She has to walk miles, uphill, with that pack to get to base camp. Every step she takes she is moving 175-185#. If we haven’t developed adequate leg and core strength to manage this load, our climber with be exhausted to the degree that climbing to the summit of Mt Baker, even with a light summit pack might not happen.Wow! Now this seems intimidating doesn’t it. It doesn’t need to be, we just need to be prepared.So gals, first we get strong! Then we start training for the long days out.
STRONG: Spend 6 – 8 weeks completing one or two strength workouts a week. However, keep in mind you are also wanting to work your long endurance. As you add hours to your training (see below) decrease your strength training. Begin your strength phase 4 -6 weeks before you start ramping up your endurance. As your training days get longer you’ll be done with strength building and you may only do one maintenance day in the gym depending on time and energy.
Let’s get those legs and core of the body strong!
warm up 10:00
Climbing in the Alpine world can mean 12hr days, 20hr days, multiple 14hr days, carrying a pack the entire time. Before you go on a trip either on your own or with a guide you should have a good basic understanding of how long the day or days will be, that is where your preparation will begin.
Now how to you go about training:
- Top rope easy routes with your pack on 15 – 20# of weight to get a feeling for how it feels.
- Often we have to down climb in the mountains, practice this in the gym, climb up and down routes, or outside if that is easier. Then try it with your pack on.
- Climb moderate rock routes in your approach shoes or boots before hand so you begin to get comfortable trusting your feet with more bulky less sensitive shoes on.
Additionally, for climbs like Mt. Baker where you are mostly concerned with glacier travel and moderate alpine ice as well as The Grand, the days are LONG:
FIRST: Begin hiking with a slightly heavier pack than you normally would, this is key. Find time to walk with weight, even if you don’t have good hiking trails close and you can only get out periodically take your pack to the gym and walk on a step mill with weight on your back, no you don’t look weird you look committed. No Step Mill at your gym and you can’t stand the idea of the gym; there are stairs in most buildings you can walk up and take an elevator down, repeat, yes with a pack on your back. You can walk back down the stairs take in to account that this is hard on the knees as is any downhill. We want to prepare for down hill just don’t do lots of extra down.
LONG Endurance: 12hr days….that is a long day and your body will shut down if it doesn’t have some kind of preparation. however going out for 12 hrs doesn’t make sense in your busy life and is hard to fit in.
Here’s what we do:
Begin to build your endurance base, let’s assume you already do 2 – 3 hour hikes or rides:
- Week One: on the weekend, 4 hrs Saturday hiking with weight or a combo of things, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
- Week Two: on the weekend, 5 hrs Saturday, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
- Week Three: on the weekend, 6 hrs Saturday, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
- Week Four: have fun don’t worry about training so you don’t burn out!
- Week Five: on the weekend, 7 hrs Saturday, follow that with 3hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
- Week Six: on the weekend, 8 hrs Saturday, follow that with 3hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
There are so many specifics to alpine climbing that we just scratched the surface, one day adventure, two week trips, high altitude, trekking in, back packing, using huts. The idea is to understand your body needs to be prepared for the longer days and energy spent. If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me via email.