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Mountaineering Training | Introduction to the Fit To Climb Program

Posted by: | January 28, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

We are excited to share a weekly trainings series from the book Fit to Climb: The Adventx 16 week Mount Rainier Training Program authored by former RMI Guide John Colver! This conditioning plan is designed to help you train for a successful Mount Rainier climb. 
 
As the plan unfolds you’ll quickly gain momentum, achieving milestones, and navigating each phase of training. Before you’re halfway through, you’ll feel confident in your abilities and have experienced significant physical gains.
 
Features of the Fit To Climb plan are:

• A progressive training schedule with measurable milestones
• A weekly chart with day by day workout descriptions
• The ‘Rainier Dozen’ daily strengthening workout
• Tips on cross-training and alternative training options
• Instruction on aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, and strength training
• Nutrition for training and climbing
• Tips on motivation, goal setting, and mental preparation

The Fit To Climb Program is designed to be done anywhere and with the minimal of equipment. No matter where you live, you’ll be able to participate and each week you’ll build strength and endurance for the climb ahead.
 
The 16 weeks are comprised of four phases:

• Phase one = Adaptation Training (Weeks 1 - 2)
• Phase two = Foundation Training (Weeks 3 - 10)
• Phase three = Peak Training (Weeks 10 - 15)
• Phase four = Expedition (Week 16)

These phases are the building blocks, each ending in milestones. We start with general conditioning, then add endurance, followed by the addition of high intensity interval training in the peak phase and ending with a short ‘tapering’ phase during the final preparation in the week before your climb. 

The timing commitment of the Fit To Climb Program varies. The Adaption and Foundation Training Phases ask for 4 - 7 hours a week of training. During the Peak Training Phase the focus is on building solid and aerobic endurance with long training sessions and the plan calls for 10 - 15+ hrs of training per week. It’s a big time commitment so plan ahead and try and prepare your schedule to handle the increased training demands. For some tips, see RMI’s collection of ideas to maximize the time and the find the right terrain for your training.
 
The timing of the sixteen weeks is designed to prepare you for Mount Rainier climb that is four months away. If your climb is later or sooner you can adjust the timing as necessary, either getting a head-start or beginning in the appropriate week.

The Fit To Climb Program can easily be tailored to prepare you for any mountain beyond Mt. Rainier. In developing training plans for other climbs, plan your training with the end in mind: is the major challenge the high altitude, extreme temperatures, heavy pack, or multiple days or weeks? 
 
As you create the training map, ensure that there are stepping stones to gain new skills and strengths as well as milestones where you can “test” your ability. One principle of training for mountaineering in all ranges, is that aerobic endurance conditioning is the primary training component for most climbers. Start by making sure that you have what it takes to “go long,” then focus on the specific challenges of your climb or expedition.

The Fit To Climb training program is rigorous and to complete it in its entirety requires a substantial commitment of time and effort. Do people follow it to-the-letter? Sometimes yes, often no - people become ill, work or family situations come up and the best plans work on the basis of flexibility. A paradox of training for a major climb is that we want to set the bar high in training in order to replicate the demands we’ll have during the expedition, however, we also want to maintain confidence if we fall short of a training session or goal. It’s rarely a linear process; sometimes we feel awful just when we expected to be strong, sometimes our perfect plan goes sideways, and sometimes we feel doubt when everything has been completed perfectly.

As you start the process, think of the key elements of success: Maintain momentum, rest when you need to, push hard when you feel strong, and constantly think about how you can recover well. And most importantly, be confident that your efforts will pay off; many people have climbed and succeeded in their goals while having not completed all of the training or while feeling sub-par. I remind myself that one can miss a few classes and still graduate. It’s progress, not perfection, that counts. 

- John Colver

Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program.

John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit To Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

RMI Climbers on the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier

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Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 1

Posted by: | February 04, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

This is officially the first training week Fit To Climb and of your Mount Rainier adventure. Much like fastening up a coat, it’s really important to get the first button in the right hole, or no amount of effort at the other end is going to make the process successful!

In physical training, a core foundational principle is to develop correct movement patterns, this so we can use our bodies efficiently while avoiding injury. The method we’ll use to practice this week is the Daily Dozen. (Download a description of the Daily Dozen here).

During this first week of training, measure your success by performing the exercises with the greatest amount of skill possible. Consider how you’ll want to move on the mountain during your climb, moving over rocks covered in ice, wearing crampons and a heavy backpack, potentially in a snowstorm. At that point, you’ll want your foot to end up exactly where you want it, and you’ll want to have the strength and coordination to efficiently move your body upwards.

The very first step toward getting there is to figure out how to move your body right. Therefore, do not worry about how many exercises you can do or how intensely you can do them; simply focus on the quality of movement and make a strong commitment to quality training during this week and for the weeks to follow.

Fit to Climb: Week 1 Schedule

DAY WORKOUT TOTAL TIME DIFFICULTY
1 Daily Dozen (Crux Workout) 12 min. Recovery
2 30 Minute Hike 30 min. Medium
3 Daily Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
4 30 Minute Hike 30 min. Medium
5 Daily Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
6 1 Hour Hike 60 min. Medium
7 Rest - Recovery
  Total 2 hrs 36 mins  

- John Colver

Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program.

John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

RMI Climbers on Ingraham Flats, Mt. Rainier

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Shishapangma: RMI Guide Team Returns to Kathmandu

Posted by: Elias de Andres Martos | October 17, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Guide News *Everest

Dear friends, family and colleagues: we are happy to get back in touch with you. Before all, we would like to apologize for the lack of communication of the last 10 days, but unfortunately, we were the most frustrated with that issue. Our satellite phone decided not to cooperate with our solar panel, and recharging the battery was an impossible task. Being the last team this season on the mountain, we could not borrow any other means of communication and we understand the worries this might have caused. But this is what being in the Himalayas brings to all of us…

That said, we are eager to announce that entire team is back safe in Kathmandu after having reached the SUMMIT ON THE CENTRAL SUMMIT OF SHISHAPANGMA at 8013metres!!!!
On Oct.11th, Bridget, Jake, Geoff and Elias reached the central summit in the mid afternoon, on a warm and cloudless day, after having followed the NW ridge for several hours from C3 (Elias and Bridget) at 7450m and from C2.5 (Geoff and Jake) at 7100m. The next day, Oct 12th, Eric and Leon, who had made shelter in C3 the previous day, started strong towards the summit. Leon reached the summit hours later, having Eric turning around well above 7600m in a wise and mature decision that honors this young, strong and smart climber, since his cold toes were not warming up in those early hours and up there you are the mercy of the temperatures.

Two days later, the entire team was reunited at Base Camp, from were we would proceed to do several back-carries to clear our gear and trash from anywhere below C1 at 6400m. After another day of rest and packing, we initiated our descent towards the trail head, also called Chinese Base Camp, were we arrived yesterday, the 16th. We were picked up by our truck (who learned about our arrival by a paper note sent down 2 days earlier with a yak shepherd) which would take us to the town of Nyalam, just a few Kilometers away from the Tibetan-Nepali border, to spend the night. This morning (Oct 17th) we made it into Nepal not without a couple small issues at the border and multiple traffic stops en-route to our hotel in Kathmandu, due to the heavy tourist season in the area. Is close to midnight here, so I will stop writing, but we will send you a good recap of the entire expedition soon.

Again, thanks to all of you for your support, your interest and the good vibrations sent. Best regards.
RMI Guide Elias de Andres Martos

Geoff Schellens, Elias de Andres-Martos, and Jake Beren on the Central Summit of Shishapangma - Photo by Bridget Schletty Elias de Andres-Martos and Bridget Schletty  on the Central Summit of Shishapangma

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Hi to all of you!! I always had trust in the team!!!!!
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!1

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Posted by: JORGE DE ANDRES on 10/17/2011 at 10:23 am


Mountaineering Training | Setting a Baseline: Evaluating Your Current Fitness

Posted by: | October 08, 2012
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

To begin a conditioning plan for mountaineering, first establish the baseline of your current fitness level.  This baseline allows you to compare your current strengths to what you’ll need on the climb.  With this, we can compose a training plan that builds steady improvement between now and the day you set off for the mountains.
 
To illuminate the task ahead, and to build a plan, consider these questions: 
• What are the physical requirements of the climb (ie. pack weight, number of days, hours spent each day)?
• How much time do I have before I climb?
• What are my fitness strengths?
• How much weight can I carry and for how long? 

To determine the physical requirements of the climb, look to RMI’s office and website.  RMI provides details on the equipment we will be carrying, the itinerary, and the duration of the climb.

How much time is there before the climb?  Take out a calendar or a blank sheet of paper and consider how to fit in the three phases of training:
1. Beginning (adaptation)
2. Building
3. Peaking (the final preparation before the climb)

Assessing your fitness strengths with a visit to a qualified athletic trainer will help to quantify your current level of fitness.  Or, visit a park and hike your favorite loop or trail with a weighted backpack to gain realistic insight into your capabilities.  What I like about assessing the time and weight is that it is simple and you can do it today.
 
As we move ahead, I encourage you to think about whether you prefer to approach your training scientifically or intuitively.  Do you prefer hiring a coach, or do you like to be your own coach? Both methods are successful - sometimes a combination is a nice way to go about it.  Throughout training, I encourage you to be consistently aware of two important factors: How long can I go? How much can I carry? On the mountain, these two things really matter. 
 
As an exercise for this week, set aside time to visit a park, sports stadium, or a local hiking area.  See how it feels. The purpose of this session is not to push to a maximum effort but to simply experience how it feels to carry a pack up and down inclines. 
 
My encouragement is to not do too much. The “safety first” rule applies to training as well as the mountains.  Too much too soon can have a negative effect, or even risk an injury.  If this is new to you… don’t feel overwhelmed if today you feel that you have a long way to go. 
 
Two years ago in October, I trained with my friend Kim Porto.  She had her sights set on climbing Mt. Rainier and trekking to Everest Base Camp during the following eighteen months.  She had never hiked before.  On day one, we walked stairs for twenty minutes with our running shoes and no pack.  It was enough.  From there, we mapped out a plan that steadily increased the training with hiking, stair work, and strength training.  By steady training over the months ahead, Kim accomplished both her Rainier climb and her trek to Everest Base Camp. 
 
Remember that moderation and consistency are the keys to success in building endurance!
 
- John Colver
 
                      
John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle.

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!

Author John Colver and Climber Kim Porto at Camp Muir, 10,060', August 2010.

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Mt. Everest Expedition: Sara McGahan on Climbing and her Studies

Posted by: | March 30, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 11,300'

Hi, my name is Sara for those of you that are reading this that don’t know me, I am 16 years old, and a sophomore at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. I started climbing when I was 12 years old, and since then I have climbed Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Rainier, Denali (Mt. McKinley), and a bunch of other mountains.

I like climbing for a number of reasons.  I like training for climbing because I know that when I am doing it its with a goal in mind. I love the people I meet when I am climbing, and hearing all their stories and experiences. I have also been able to travel to a lot of different places like Tanzania, Argentina, Russia, Australia, Nepal, and the states of Washington, Alaska, and Colorado. Its really interesting and fun to go to all these places, and to see different people and cultures.

While on this climb I am working on two different projects for classes at my school:

1.  For science, I am measuring heart rate and blood oxygen levels at different altitudes of 4 people (including myself) to study the effects of high altitude.  I am taking readings using a small finger device and doing it twice a day.  As we move up to higher and higher altitudes its interesting to see how peoples bodies react to the altitude, and how they change as the body starts to acclimatize.

2.  Right now I am in the Northern part of Nepal and Tibet is just over the border in China. The Dali Lama is openly held in very high regard here in Nepal, but pictures of the Dali Lama are forbidden in Tibet.  For English I will be talking to people about the current situation of the Dali Lama in Tibet, their views on this situation, and any impact its had on climbing near this border and on the villages close to the border.

As I write this I am sitting in an internet cafe in Namche, Nepal.  Namche is the center for trekking and climbing in Sagarmatha National Park.  Today we took a hike from Namche, which is at about 11,200 feet, up to the villages of Khumjung, Khunde, and Syangbouche. The views from these villages are truly breath taking. Some of the men in the villages work as porters and sherpas (guides for climbers and trekkers), and the rest of the people are farmers.  Our group stopped half way at the Everest Hotel to have a coke, and we sat on the terrace with clear views of Everest, Lotse, Ama Dablam, and lots of other huge mountains.  Really, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.


Sara McGahan

 

Raju, Jeff, Bill, Sara going for dayhike above Namche.  Photo:  Dave Hahn Cold Drinks at the Everest View Hotel.  Photo:  Dave Hahn Walking the streets of Khunde.  Photo:  Dave Hahn Back down to Namche.  Photo:  Dave Hahn

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Sara!
I still can’t believe you are sixteen and climbing everest. you are incredible. I received an email from your mom giving me the link to this blog and… read more

Posted by: Hannah Woodward on 3/30/2011 at 12:35 pm

Hi Sara,
I enjoyed your post and look forward to many more.  I, too, am an Atlanta based climber, although considerably older than you.  I train for all of… read more

Posted by: Tom from Marietta on 3/30/2011 at 12:14 pm


RMI Hosts Prep for Rainier Classes at REI

Posted by: Ben Liken, Paul Maier | April 11, 2014
Categories: *Guide News

RMI is hosting several Prep for Rainier classes over the months of February, March, and April at local REI stores in the Puget Sound area. Join RMI’s experienced guides to discuss everything that is needed to prepare for Mt. Rainier, including conditioning, trip planning, route selection, and equipment selection to climb Washington State’s highest point!

Come out to your local REI store to hear stories and answer your questions about Mt. Rainier!

Tuesday 4/15/2014 7:00pm REI Redmond with RMI Guide Paul Maier More info…

Join RMI for classes on how to prepare for Mt. Rainier at your local REI store!

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Mt. Everest Expedition: Dave’s Thirteenth Everest Summit

Posted by: | May 21, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest

RMI Guide Dave Hahn summits Mt. Everest for a Record Thirteenth Time. On May 20th, 2011, Dave Hahn, Linden Mallory and their Sherpa team stood on the summit of Mt. Everest on a clear and beautiful day. Congratulations!

The team has safely returned to Everest Base Camp.

Dave Hahn, Lucky #13 Mt. Everest Summit Linden Mallory and Dave Hahn on the summit of Mt. Everest, May 21, 2011. Everest sunrise shadow and Dave Hahn on the radio to Base Camp. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Way to go guys! Number 13 Dave. You rock!

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Posted by: Lizabee Schaefer on 5/21/2011 at 6:29 pm


Shishapangma: RMI Team Ready to Begin Rotations Above Camp 1

Posted by: Jake Beren | September 20, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Guide News *Everest

Hey guys, this is the Shishapangma team.  We are just calling to check in.  Everybody is well.  We did feel the big earthquake the other day.  Both our team up at Camp 1 and our team at BC are just fine.

We are going to send another team up in the direction of Camp 1 later this afternoon.  We are going to start our rotations a little higher up.  All is well here.  We are waiting for a weather window and just hanging out.

So, we hope all is well back in Ashford.  We’ll be giving you a shout when we have a little more to say.  That is all from Tibet.

RMI Guide Jake Beren

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Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 10

Posted by: | April 08, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Fit to Climb: Week 10 Schedule

DAY WORKOUT TOTAL TIME DIFFICULTY
1 Rainier Dozen / Easy Hiking ( 30 min) 42 min. Medium
2 1-2-3 Stair Workout x 3 90 min. Very Hard
3 Rainier Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
4 Rainier Dozen / High Intensity Stair Interval Training (50 min) 62 min. Hard
5 Rainier Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
6 Rainier Dozen / Cross Training 60 min. Medium
7 Hike (5 hrs, 15lbs of pack weight) 300 min. Medium
Total 9 hrs 38 mins

BRIEFING

The weekend hike will be 5 hours and your Day 2 stair session will bump up from 60 to 90 minutes. Depending where you live, you may well be experiencing lighter evenings so this will be a chance to get outdoors, even at the end of the work day. In my estimation, nothing burns workday stress like a stair workout!

Speaking of stair workouts, this week will see the introduction of a new variant of interval training: the 1-2-3 Stair workout. This workout will push you beyond your anaerobic threshold and help increase both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity in the long term. A detailed explanation is included below. The consistent pace stair training that you’ve been doing for the past several weeks moves to Day 4.

DESCRIPTIONS OF WORKOUTS

Day 1: Rainier Dozen + Easy Hiking (30 Minutes)
Today’s hike is a recovery workout and you can always substitute it with a different activity, such as running, biking or swimming. The important thing is to move at a moderate pace for 30 to 45 minutes. The pace can be conversational, and you do not need to be dripping with sweat at the end of the workout.

Day 2: Stair Interval Training: The 1-2-3 Workout
For your first stair workout of the week, you’ll take on a new challenge. First, warm up with some moderate paced stair climbing. Then, your challenge is to do one burst of effort moderately hard, followed by a rest; then a second burst of effort very hard, followed by another rest; and then the third burst of effort where you’ll make a close-to-maximal effort. In other words, you’ll go from the bottom to the top of the stairs as quickly as you’re able, or at least as fast as if you were being chased by a bear! This might end up looking like the following;

• 2 minutes at 50-65% intensity, followed by 3 minutes of rest (1 minute standing, 2 minutes descending)
• 2 minutes at 65-80% intensity, followed by 3 minutes of rest
• 2 minutes at 85-90% intensity, followed by 3 minutes of rest

For this week, repeat this cycle up to three times, depending on your level of fitness. If three times is too much too soon, fall back to some consistent pace stair climbing like you are used to, or stop at two sets and work your way up next week. This is a very demanding workout designed to mimic the physical stress that might be encountered on the mountain, so don’t be discouraged if takes a few weeks to work up to it!

An additional note on safety: after charging up the stairs at 90% intensity your legs might be a little wobbly, so be extra careful not to trip while coming down the stairs.

Most people will experience some discomfort at this intensity. Remember that all of these workouts are challenge-by-choice. Whenever training for mountaineering, I always try to bear in mind that I’m responsible for my own safety, and sometimes the safety of others. So even in training, I’m careful to not exert myself to the extent that I’ll overextend or injure my body. 

Day 3: Rainier Dozen / Rest
Begin your day with the Rainier Dozen. Feel free to take another 30 to 60 minutes of light exercise if you feel like it (a brisk walk is a great option). If you feel tired, today is a good opportunity be good to take a complete rest day instead. Listen to your body.

Day 4: Rainier Dozen + Stair Interval Training (50 Minutes)
After the Rainier Dozen, warm up for about 10 minutes, and then climb up and down a set of stairs, at a consistent pace, for about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool down with some stretching. You don’t need to carry a pack on your stair interval training, the focus in this workout is on speed and intensity.

Day 5: Rainier Dozen / Rest
Begin your day with the Rainier Dozen. Feel free to take another 30 to 60 minutes of light exercise if you feel like it (a brisk walk is a great option). If you feel tired, today is a good opportunity be good to take a complete rest day instead. Listen to your body.

Day 6: Rainier Dozen / Cross Training (1 Hour)
Warm up with the Rainier Dozen and then spend an hour in some moderately vigorous activity as cross training (find out more about cross training here). Listen to your body, and have fun with it.

Day 7: 5 Hour Hike
Find a location to hike that is about 9 to 10 miles in distance and takes about 5 hours. Maintain the same weight for your pack as last week. If the weight of your pack has to increase a little bit to account for the additional time you’ll be on the trail, that’s ok too.

SUMMARY

Perhaps the most noticeable thing you’ll feel after this week is that you are really used to these workouts. As aerobic endurance increases and strength builds, you’ll likely be finding that the workouts are more enjoyable and perhaps less taxing. Remember that at this point in training your goal is to perform well. You may not be as fatigued as in previous weeks but you are really moving forwards. Also, by now you’re probably getting highly organised with your equipment and clothing during your training hikes. Everything is falling into place!

- John Colver

Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program.

John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

RMI Trekkers acclimatizing on their way to Everest Base Camp.

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Mt. Everest: Update 4-18-14

Posted by: Mark Tucker | April 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

April 17th - 11:20 pm Pacific Time

RMI Guide and Everest Base Camp Manager Mark Tucker reports that RMI climbers, Sherpa and guides are safe at Everest Base Camp.  Around 7 am local time on April 18th an avalanche occured below the West Shoulder continuing down into the Khumbu Ice Fall.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the teams on Mt. Everest.

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Kid,
Stay safe up there…be focused! 

Love from home.

Deke

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Posted by: Deke on 4/18/2014 at 7:16 am

JJ, I just saw the news.  I am praying for you guys… so glad you and the team are ok. 
Be safe.  See you in a couple months.

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Posted by: Joshua Knight on 4/18/2014 at 7:15 am


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