T Nation

Training for Mountaineering

I’m shifting my training toward mountaineering. I’m starting easy with a trip to Mounts Whitney, Muir and Russell for a weekend later this summer. But I don’t want to end there. I can definitely see Rainier in my future.

Right now I’m running and lifting with the occasional mountain bike ride or Backpacking trip. If you’ve ever (successfully) trained for mountaineering, what was your training like? Any suggestions? Is being “big/muscular” a detriment or did you find it helped? I think I’m 90% there with my training, but am always open to suggestions of improvement!

Hey there,

Doesn’t seem like theres many climbers on here so here goes.

I’d recommend going to www.gymjones.com & reading through the knowledge section. Theres a lot of great information on there from Mark Twight. You can also check out the schedule on there & go back a few years to when he was training climbers.

A lot of people like to carry a lot of extra weight in their pack & do training hikes. I found this boring, so instead if I go hiking I just like to go fast and light.

Right now I’m training for a 2month trip down to the Cordillera Blanca in Peru & I started my training w/ a bunch of heavy lifting. I mostly focused on deadlift/squat/clean/snatch/thruster type lifts. For the last few months I’ve been doing circuit training like you’d see on crossfit or Ross Enamit’s site. In the past month I’ve ramped up my hiking type stuff & am feeling really strong in the mtns.

The best advice I can really give you is to just go as light as possible and hydrate & use gu. It makes a huge difference and is key if you are planning on doing big 15, 20hr days.

Rainier is a piece of cake & I’m sure you could do it ‘off the couch’ if you pay attention to proper nutrition & hydration & are mentally there.

If you have any ?s feel free to ask.

[quote]Jesse22 wrote:
Doesn’t seem like theres many climbers on here so here goes.[/quote]

There aren’t a lot of rock climbers on a bodybuilding site? I am shocked.

The OP was asking about mountaineering not rock climbing. Based on the peaks he mentioned I don’t think there is any rock climbing involved. I did some low level mountaineering and rock climbing 2-3 yrs ago. At 6-1 and 220 lbs I didn’t see anybody out there my size but I had cut a lot of body weight by doing lots of trail running mileage (30-55 miles/wk).

What I discovered was that people that I could keep up with on a rolling terrain trail run would blow me away on steep ascents. I started doing 45-60 minute workouts on the stairmaster but never did a serious ascent after that to test the effectiveness of that strategy.

Since then I’ve replaced my trail running etc. with intervals on the stairmaster and gotten back into powerlifting. Moutaineering and PLing do not go together very well at all but I love them both. Ricky Dale Crain has started climbing Colorado’s 14ers which is really hard hiking rather than mountaineering.

I expect he would hold the record for most 14,000 ft summits by a former 800 lb(?) squatter and a current 500 lb squatter with an artificical hip.

Enjoy your mountaineering, keep lifting but don’t get discouraged if your strength diminishes.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:

There aren’t a lot of rock climbers on a bodybuilding site? I am shocked.[/quote]

I wasn’t shocked, I was just trying to help out. And he wasn’t talking about rock climbing anyways.

The stairmaster is a pretty effective way to train but you can get good results doing short circuit type stuff instead.

Doing nothing over 30minutes for several months I was still able to go out into the mtns & be one of the fastest ones out there. The key to going fast is packing light & drinking water. The faster & lighter you go the quicker you can finish which means a lot less time in a hazard zone where you might be getting worn out mentally leading to a bonk / crash.

I want to second one of Jesse’ earlier comments - GU is a great way to avoid bonking. I would take a package every 45 minutes and it gave me the energy shot to just keep going.

Good feedback. Thanks!
Sounds like one adjustment I need to make is the stairmaster–though I hate it and know it is from the devil. :wink:
I’m going on a hike tomorrow, maybe I’ll try some Gu, too.
Thanks again!