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FIRST STEPS HIMALAYA

 

 

FITNESS TRAINING FOR EVEREST?

More important than physical training is learning to be a climber... not just a client!!

Everest Mountaineering Course 

You'll need 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.  

One of 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.

Cardiovascular conditioning. 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.

Mental conditioning. 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.

 TECHNICALA 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.

At Peak 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 CLIMB

 

A Training Program for the Prospective Mountaineering Hardman

By
Stacy Taniguchi



 

OBJECTIVES OF THIS TRAINING PROGRAM:

At the end of this training program:

  • 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 physical exertion.
  • You should be able to physically and mentally go the extra mile when called upon for survival reasons.

THE PROGRAM:

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 day.

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 ability.

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 ten.

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 aerobic exercise.
  • 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 strength workout.
  • 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 fitness.

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 diet.

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 considered.)

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 thing."

 

All the best on your training, be safe!

 

Tim Rippel

 Tim Ripple for the benefit of finding a common spelling used when searching Everest on search engines. 

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