TRAINING FOR EVEREST?
important than physical training is learning to be a climber... not just a
this. There is no guiding criteria in Nepal. Anyone can take your money and your
life in their hands and not be accountable. Dangerous business.
the most often asked questions I receive as a mountaineering guide, is "How
should I train for climbing?" Since each individual has his or her own
schedule, physical and mental abilities, goals, and determination, the answer to
that question is not set in stone. But, in order to help my clients, I have come
up with suggestions on how to prepare for the rigors of climbing this mountain.
You may find that it is a good place to start. Use it as you see fit and modify
it for your own purposes, but keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to be as
physically prepared as you can possibly be for this adventure.
Physical conditioning should be approached on three fronts.
Traditionally improved by activity sustained for at least 45-60 minutes, 4-5
times per week. Suggested activities include running, bicycling, swimming,
stepping, etc. Proper stretching and warm-up are very important.
Strength conditioning. Traditionally improved by training with free
weights or Nautilus machines.
When your body is physically exhausted, you have only one thing left. This is
your mental strength. Visualization is a powerful tool and needs to be trained.
We recommend a simulated Everest expedition and the best way to achieve this is
in the Himalayas with Everest before you the entire time. Consider joining our
Everest Training climb on Mt. Pumori each season. Extremely valuable!
- General conditioning for mountaineering:
Hike steep outdoor trails with water weight added to your pack. A physical
goal for the course should be to ascend 1067 meters carrying 15- 20
kilograms in a 2-3 hour period. Increasing amounts of water in collapsible
plastic jugs can be carried to vary the workout and slowly work up to a
22-30 kilograms pack. (Water weight is suggested so that when the climb up
is complete the weight can be dumped to save knees on the downhill return).
If you are training in a gym you can use a "Step-Mill" machine
that is similar to an escalator or even better an elliptical trainer. If not
in a gym stairs or small hills also work well. If you train indoors,
be sure to work gradually up to training with a heavy pack & boots.
A climber should be
self-reliant in the mountains. Should something happen to your climbing partner
you should have the skills to survive and not be dependant on any one else. This
will include rope skills and glacier travel including rope and glacier rescue
procedures. Knowledge in this area is life-saving and essential for anyone
climbing in the mountains with or without guides and Sherpas.
Freaks we offer one of the best training options there is for Everest. Known to
many as the "Everest Boot Camp". The climb is more technical than
Everest herself. Knowledge and experience will be a real eye opener for an
aspiring Everest climber and knowledge gained will make you Everest experience
much more enjoyable and safe. EVEREST
Training Program for the Prospective Mountaineering Hardman
OF THIS TRAINING PROGRAM:
At the end of this
- You should be able to walk and climb moderate
snow and ice slopes for up to six to eight hours a day, carrying up to 20
kilograms of supplies on your back.
- You should be able to recover from a hard day's
climbing within an eight to twelve hour period to resume another day of hard
- You should be able to physically and mentally
go the extra mile when called upon for survival reasons.
SIX MONTHS PRIOR TO EXPEDITION:
During this month: work on getting into the training
routine. Physically, by the end of this month, you should be fit enough so that
your body does not ache the day after a workout. Mentally, you should feel that
you cheated yourself if you do not follow your routine regularly. (Caution: Do
not get fanatical about this! Keep your exercise routine enjoyable and
exploratory. Do your workouts so that you will not mind doing it again tomorrow.
Find exercises that are fun to do and go to places that are new. Be creative. Do
not think that all must be done at a high intensity now. There's plenty of time
for that later.)
Work out four days a week this month, rest one to two days and, if you are up to
it, use one of the rest days to do a fun workout (e.g. ice or rock climb,
biking, skiing, skating, etc.). Try to find friends that will workout with you.
They can be the motivation for you to get into the routine. It is harder to
forgo a workout when you know that someone is planning to workout with you that
Aerobic training is the emphasis of your program. You want to have the endurance
to exert energy for hours at a time, day after day. This month put in at least
two hours per week (thirty minutes per day) of aerobic exercise. This exercise
should be a continuous effort for the given time period. The most popular type
of aerobic exercise is running, but biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and
hiking are also good substitutes. Interchange them each day if one gets boring.
Both my editor and guiding boss are biking fanatics and they highly recommend
mountain biking and road biking as excellent forms of aerobic and leg
strengthening exercises. The objective of this month's aerobic workout is to get
your heart rate up to between thirty and forty beats faster per minute (over the
thirty-minute workout) than your resting heart rate. Some workout professionals
call this the "conversation intensity" where you are working out at a
level that allows you to talk to someone during the workout, without dying. You
may not start off thinking that you can talk with your heart rate up that high
for long periods of time, but you will need to gradually work up to that
Strength training needs to be slowly incorporated this month. You should be
working on building strength in your back, shoulders, arms, and abdominal
muscles. Your leg muscles will get stronger through the aerobic exercises, but
you can include exercises that specifically work the leg muscles too if you feel
up to it. Again, don't overdo your routine, which could cause you to lose
interest. A strength program should include a three days per week routine (this
is besides the aerobic training!). You do not have to join a health club to get
a good strength workout. The following examples can be done at home:
- One set of sit ups (abdominal crunches)--as
many as you can do.
- Three sets of pull-ups and/or chin ups-- up to
fifteen repetitions per set.
- Three sets of as many push ups you can do--up
to forty repetitions per set.
If you have access to a weight set or can improvise, you
can include the following as well:
- Three sets of bent rowing exercises with
weights that will allow you to do ten to fifteen repetitions per set, but no
more than fifteen.
- Three sets of military presses with weights
that will allow you to do eight to ten repetitions per set but no more than
Muscle fatigue should set in on the last few repetitions of
each set and muscle failure should occur on the last repetition of the third
set, if you have selected the proper resistance. Do not make your strength
routine time consuming or boring at this early stage.
Example week for this month:
- Monday: Run for thirty minutes at a
"conversation" pace. Try not to stop, but if you feel that you
have to, try to maintain a brisk walking pace. Strength train today with the
sit-ups, pull-ups, and push-ups routine.
- Tuesday: Bike (or substitute another aerobic
exercise) for thirty minutes or longer. (Remember that you want to get a
workout!) Try to go somewhere different today than on Monday's workout. No
strength workout today.
- Wednesday: Strength workout today. You may want
to include a few more strength exercises than you did on Monday. Rest from
- Thursday: Run for thirty minutes like you did
on Monday. Find a different route again. You might want to travel to a
wilderness trail, if one is close by. No strength workout today.
- Friday: Cross-country ski (or substitute
another aerobic exercise) for thirty minutes or longer. Repeat Monday's
- Saturday: Rest day or do something
recreational. Go climbing or hiking for fun.
- Sunday: Rest day.
Some forms of aerobic exercise, such as biking, may not
require you to exert the same amount of energy in a given amount of time as
compared to running. You will need to monitor how you feel and adjust the
duration and/ or intensity.
I recommend that you do not jump into any form of exercise without a light form
of warming up first. Some stretching of the muscles you are about to use heavily
is a good way to prevent injuries and get your skeletal-muscular system prepared
for your exercise routine.
You should also drink lots of water. Your body will need it with these workouts,
but it also needs to get use to hydrating. A common cause of adverse altitude
affects is dehydration. You will need to drink large amounts at altitude (three
to four quarts, minimum, per day) and your body should now start getting use to
taking in those copious amounts. There is a saying concerning hydration,
"clear and copious" referring to urine output. For now, drinking two
to three quarts of water per day is recommended. (Caution: Those of you with
kidney problems should check with a doctor for recommended amounts.)
Remember that you are not training to compete in the Olympics next week and this
workout schedule is probably a change in your current lifestyle, so take it
gradually and easily to begin with this month. You want to maintain the
training, so it is better to do parts of this program rather than none at all.
FIVE MONTHS PRIOR TO EXPEDITION:
The focus of this month is building a foundation for your mountaineering
Aerobic workouts should still be, at least, four days a week with no more than
two days rest per week. You should substitute one rest day for your recreational
day. Increase the duration of these workouts to at least forty minutes, but you
must now make sure these sessions are a continuous effort.
Strength workouts should remain at three days per week. Try to increase your
weights and/ or reps, but do not exceed the maximum reps stated earlier.
This month you should include hill climbing or stair climbing as part of your
weekly routine. At least once a week but no more than twice a week: Find a long
hill or flights of stairs to climb. The duration of the climb should be no less
than five minutes. Repeat the climb until you have completed a thirty-minute
session. If you find something that allows you to climb continuously for thirty
plus minutes before coming back down, that would be excellent. Carry a backpack
that has about twenty pounds in it. Avoid stopping during this routine. This
workout is probably the best simulation of what you will be doing when climbing.
(Caution: Do not carry too much weight in your pack now because the coming down
portion of this workout can kill your knees if you are not use to the weight.)
FOUR MONTHS PRIOR TO EXPEDITION:
The focus for this month is building your endurance.
Aerobic workouts should now be five days per week, with one day rest. Increase
your workout sessions to a minimum of forty-five minutes. Concentrate on working
continuously throughout the entire forty-five minutes. Continue to include a
hill or stair-climbing workout with a backpack at least once a week. Increase
the weight carried in your backpack by ten pounds and the duration of this
session to 35 - 45 minutes. You can substitute one or two of your aerobic
workouts with the hill or stair climbing session. Be careful with your knees on
the down hills.
Strength workouts should increase to four days a week. Increase weights and
repetitions, but again, do not exceed maximum repetitions already mentioned.
At this point of your training you may find that motivation might be lacking at
times. Don't give up! Be creative, find new places to train, more friends to
train with, go climbing to get psyched, read books on mountaineering, and watch
videos or slide shows of other mountaineering adventures.
THREE MONTHS PRIOR TO EXPEDITION:
This month you
begin your training in earnest. You must now get mentally conditioned, as well
as physically. Take each day as it comes.
You may want to consider taking a good daily multiple vitamin with the RDA of
iron, if you do not already do so. This will make sure that your body is getting
its recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals that you might need with your
increased exercise routines. The iron will assure that your blood will have the
iron needed to maintain the haemoglobin in your red blood cells (good for
carrying oxygen). Don't forget your daily intake of water and eat a healthy
Your aerobic workouts should remain at five days per week and take one rest day
per week. Your sessions should now last a minimum of fifty minutes.
Incorporate a shortened "stress" or anaerobic workout session for one
day of the week. This workout should be around thirty minutes and you want this
session to get your heart rate up to around 130 to 180 beats per minute for at
least one minute duration at a time, but not longer than two minutes. Recuperate
between these high intensity bursts within three minutes before going at it
again. Physiologically, the faster your heart rate during the stress exercise
and the less rest time you give yourself between the exercises, the more
training benefit you will reap. You should really be working hard during this
session and feel relatively exhausted at its end. An example of this type of
workout is running a hilly course, sprinting the up-hills (as your high
intensity burst), and jogging the down-hills and flats, for your recuperation.
This type of workout is one of the best natural ways to build up your red blood
cell count (which is responsible for getting oxygen to your cells) and getting
your cells to get rid of lactic acid (a waste product of cellular respiration
and cause of muscle fatigue) more efficiently.
On one of your aerobic workouts, include what I call the "McKinley
Edge". This is an extra uphill, a longer or added loop, or an extra spurt
of effort included in a workout to get your mind ready to handle the "extra
mile" effort that might be required on Denali. You need to determine the
"McKinley Edge" before you start the workout and stick to that plan.
Strength workouts remain at four days per week and should be a habit for you by
this time. Increase your weights and repetitions accordingly.
Continue your hill and/ or stair climbing workouts, but do this twice a week
now. This can be a replacement of two of your aerobic sessions. Increase your
backpack weight by another ten pounds. You may want to consider carrying jugs of
water for weight so you can empty them at the top of your elevation gain,
assuming that you do not have to repeat the climb often in the one session. This
way you do not have to carry the weight down and pound your knees. (Caution:
Remember that you will be carrying very heavy loads down the mountain when the
expedition is over, so strengthening your leg muscles for down hills should be
This month try to get out into the wilderness once or twice to test your gear.
Make sure your boots are comfortable, apparel fits and does what you want it to
do, tent sets up easily, backpack fits and handles the heavy loads, sleeping bag
feels good, and you are getting familiar with the stoves, etc. The only way to
do these things is to go camping and climbing. You do not want to find out that
things are not just right on Denali. You can substitute two of your aerobic
workouts for this outing if it is an overnighter.
TWO MONTHS PRIOR TO EXPEDITION:
Maintaining your routines and your health is key for this month.
Continue your aerobic workouts at five days per week and at least one rest day.
Workouts should be a minimum of an hour in duration. One aerobic workout per
week should last for at least an hour and a half. Continue with at least one
stress session per week and shorten the rest periods between the high intensity
portions. Remember to include the "McKinley Edge" to a couple of your
workouts every week. Your uphill and/ or stair climbing workouts should now be a
regular substitute for an aerobic session twice a week with at least forty
pounds in the backpack. Wear your climbing boots for these sessions to get use
to them, if you have not been doing so already.
Strength training is now for endurance purposes. Continue to strength train four
times per week, but use two of those days for emphasizing repetitions done
quickly. If you have someone who can time you, do your exercises in the same
number of sets, but use lighter weights (decrease your resistance by 40% of what
you used before) and do as many repetitions as you can in a minute per set. You
should use a weight that gets you to almost complete exhaustion at the end of
the minute. If no one is available, do your exercises till muscle failure.
(Caution: Do not lift free weights alone!). The other two days should be used to
maintain your routine from last month.
Again this month, get out to the wilderness and test your gear. Get the kinks
out of them and you. Remember to still drink your quarts of water, eat well, and
get lots of rest.
ONE MONTH PRIOR TO EXPEDITION:
THIS IS IT! The final month to tune up for this long awaited climb. This is the
month of training that will get you physically up the mountain.
"Two weeks prior to departure I personally start to
bulk up. I back off any rigorous training program and start to put on body fat
for reserves. Your body will naturally want to shed pounds fast at altitude and
loss of appetite occurs naturally at these elevations. When you fat reserves
have been consumed, your body will then start to consume muscle and more than
likely when you need it the most- summit time! this is not a good
All the best on your training, be safe!
Tim Ripple for the benefit of finding
a common spelling used when searching Everest on search engines.