Training Tips for Chicks – Alpine

If you are new to the Chicks Training Tips take a few minutes to read the previous newsletters, there’s a lot of great information in there!

It’s incredibly beneficial for all the Chicks to be introduced to new movements and concepts for training, implementing these in a regular workout in almost any fashion will create positive change. So re-read the first 12 installments to get a look at all the great movements, VIDEOS have been included:

This is a huge training resource for you all!

Now on to the meat of the matter.

Alpine Training: I tell friends, athletes, clients that alpine climbing is like a Venn diagram, three circles: ice, rock, and luck. The point of intersection is alpine climbing. Initially it takes skill on moderate snow, ice, rock, tolerance of big days and good weather!

Alpine TrainingLet’s say you are endeavoring into the world of alpine climbing, this isn’t the venue to learn about rock and ice/snow climbing typically we have practiced the aforementioned in less committing environments and begun to hone our skills. You’ve cragged with friends and are comfortable on moderate rock. You’ve done some basic ice climbing with Chicks in Ouray and done some top roping with friends. Now you’d really love to adventure to more remote peaks that are alluring, beckoning and maybe a touch intimidating.

The next installment is going to discuss some basic alpine training for long routes. Most people don’t live with the mountains on their back yards or even easily accessible. So they are unsure as to how to build a fitness base to go on a trip with what they have at their disposal. Once again assuming you’ve had some practice at rock and ice climbing and some basic snow travel its now time to build a fitness base for the long days ahead.

Truthfully alpine training can’t be done in a gym setting. No matter how hard the workout is what you need now is stamina. That’s not to say that gym work isn’t important or valuable it is, and we’re assuming you’ve got a nice strong body to work with, if not there are 12 newsletters before this one to get information from! Bonus!

Climbing in the Alpine 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 alpine training:

Ideas for routes with rock that must be climbed with a pack.

  1. Approach Shoe ClimbingTop rope easy routes with your pack on 15 – 20# of weight to get a feeling for how it feels.
  2. Often we have to down climbing in the mountains, practice this is the gym, climb up and down routes, or outside if that is easier. Then try it with your pack on.
  3. 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.

Long Days – Alpine Training:

Begin hiking with a slightly heavier pack than you normally would. Then let’s say you  don’t have good hiking trails close and you can only get out periodically.
  1. Take your pack to the gym and walk on step mill with weight on your back, no you don’t look weird you look committed. No step mill and you can’t stand the idea of the gym; their 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.
  2. 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, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging…Sunday.

Week Two: on the weekend, 5 hrs Saturday, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging…Sunday.

Week Three: on the weekend, 6 hrs Saturday, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging…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…Sunday.

Week Six: on the weekend, 8 hrs Saturday, follow that with 3hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging…Sunday.

And voila you are all set. The combination of the two days is nearly 12 hrs for alpine training. And yes this works. For example, for all of my ultra endurance athletes I don’t want them pounding their bodies and adrenals into oblivion before a 50 – 100 mile run/ride so we build mileage and or “time” on the trails with back to back days. This works really well and brings an athlete into their adventure, with a healthy body and a super motivated mind!

It doesn’t make sense to train for the grueling nature of alpine climbing by flogging yourself with long days via headlamp in an unpleasant environment before you go to the mountains. Yes you need to prepare your body, but do it intelligently so you still have motivation, you can rest appropriately, and you don’t get injured before your trip.

Ideas for long days: you can combine running and cycling in the same day to break up the long days, yes that counts. Swim, bike, run. Break it up and make it fun. You are just training your body to go for long periods of time. Remember for most of us it hard to fit it all in with family, work, friends, fun so let’s make this achievable! Back to back days with cumulative time works and works well!

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 at:

Carolyn Parker
The next installment will cover what to do in the gym to specifically prepare the legs for our long alpine days.

Stay Tuned!