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Entries By pete van deventer

Mountaineering Training | Reorienting Training in 2020

From RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer

This season brought about a different approach to training for me, as for so many of our guides and climbers. In a typical year, the summer guiding season counts for the vast majority of my “training” time. Multiple 12+ hour days a week in the mountains is a great way to build a deep aerobic base, and that leaves me free to fill in around workdays with activities that I enjoy (trail running, mountain biking, and ski touring top that list). While many of our climbers are training for a specific climb and many of our guides are counting those same climbs as training, the training principles between groups aren’t actually that different. Our climbers are trying to be at peak fitness for their climb to give themselves the best chance of reaching the summit, for guides the same training gives us the durability to do 10, 20, even 30 climbs a season without our bodies falling apart.

The cancellation of the climbing season this year necessitated a different approach for me. I count myself extremely lucky to live amongst Colorado’s Elk Mountains, with miles of trail running, mountain biking, ski touring, and peaks immediately accessible. With local trails one of the few outlets left to us this spring, I happily was putting in miles, finding new trails, and generally filling the aerobic base hole that the loss of the season brought. Just like everyone, I have my preferred activities, things that I count as training, but bring me personal joy as well. Ripping through swoopy single track on a mountain bike makes me grin, even if my heart is jumping out of my chest. Other activities aren’t so enjoyable, and they feel like training. I do them out of a sense of duty to the training plan, but I’m not smiling. Weight rooms top this list. I found as spring bled into summer, that I was putting a lot of time into the training activities that I liked, while totally dropping the ones I didn’t, and that was leaving a big hole in my fitness. I needed some structure.

Exercise is doing activities that stress the body and make our body work, while training is the programmed and strategic arrangement of patterns of exercise to increase performance and achieve a predetermined goal. It is difficult to put together a training plan if you do not have a goal. My goal became to build a base of specific strength and endurance to give me durability through the ski season, and I turned to our partners at Uphill Athlete for a 12-week Ski Mountaineering plan. Much of the plan involves activities that I enjoy: lots of trail running and some mountain biking for recovery workouts. There are also some twists that I usually don’t incorporate, but are fun: level 3 long interval workouts, and very short, all out hill sprints. There is also a strong focus on strength work, and though I struggle to be engaged by gyms, a different take on strength has actually been pretty fun and interesting. I’ve been doing a mixture of max strength, very low rep lifting work, as well as very high rep, very low weight muscular endurance work. Both are interesting in how the workout doesn’t necessarily feel taxing during, but for days after I find myself feeling the aftereffects. A bit sore, a bit depleted, but also seeing pretty quick improvements and results.

In Colorado, we got our first snow early, the last week of October. This kicks off the few weeks every year that feel awkward as an athlete. There is too much snow and mud on the trails to ride a mountain bike, but there isn’t enough snow to skin yet (my bar for this is pretty low, as skiing on grass still feels like skiing, but there isn’t enough even for me!). I went for a run up one of my favorite local mountain bike trails, and though the details of getting out the door were complicated (do I wear shorts because it’s in the 60s, or pants because I’ll be running through 4 or 5 inches of snow) I found a simple joy in picking my way through snow and mud and moving fast on foot on a trail that no one else seemed to be interested in taking.

I came back with renewed energy to train, running my local snowy, muddy trails until enough snow lands to allow me to ski. It has been a strange year to train, with gyms alternately open, closed, then open again, restrictions on our ability to get out and travel to our favorite places. I’d encourage everyone to set a training goal (or multiple), lean into what you can do, and blend the activities that leave you smiling with the others that are necessary to reach your goal.

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Thank you for the insight and your schedule for training is inspiring. For me training begins with not only the physical endurance aspect, but really the mental. Learning that the best physical in shape climber doesn’t summit in many cases just because of their mental training isn’t in the right place.

I just love Ed Viesturs quote “Reaching the summit is optional - getting back down is mandatory.” That is mental conditioning and smart climbing at it’s finest! He is my role model.

Posted by: J Osborn on 11/29/2020 at 7:47 pm

Thanks, Pete!

Posted by: Kendra Madrid on 11/8/2020 at 8:13 pm

Mt. Rainier: Muir Seminar Teams Reach Summit

The Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir teams led by RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Dustin Wittmier, Hannah Smith and Kiira Antenucci reached the summit of Mt. Rainier today under clear skies and moderate winds.  The teams were descending from the crater rim around 7:30 am PT.

The group gathered at Rainier BaseCamp on Monday for a full day orientation to prepare for their program.  On Tuesday morning the group left for Paradise where they donned packs and made the ascent to Camp Muir.  The teams spent the next few days training near Camp Muir, honing their mountaineering skills and preparing to make their summit today.  Today is their final day on the mountain and once they return to Camp Muir, they will repack their gear and continue their descent to Paradise.

Congratulations to today's teams on capping off a great week of training by standing on the summit of Mt. Rainier!

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Mt. Rainier: Four Day Climb Teams Summit After Lightning Storm

The Four Day Climb September 5 - 8 reached the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning led by RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and Andy Bond. The guides reported cold temperatures this morning with winds 15 mph and a dusting of new snow on the upper mountain. Mother nature put on quite a show last night with thunder and lightning throughout the area followed by some serious rain. We are glad the timing of the storm happened once the teams were at Camp Muir and cleared enough for them to make it to the summit today. Once back at Camp Muir the teams will continue to Paradise and transfer to Rainier BaseCamp. This afternoon they will conclude their program with a short celebration. Congratulations to today's climbers!
Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

WTG dad! So proud! Can’t wait to see pictures!

Posted by: Jennifer C Hitz on 9/8/2019 at 5:00 pm

Good job, Proud of you!

Posted by: Bobby & Kristi on 9/8/2019 at 12:53 pm

Mt. Rainier: Teams Summit on Another Beautiful Day!

RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and Taylor Bickford led their Four Day Climb August 30 - 2 September teams to the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning. Pete reported a light breeze and nice climbing conditions as the team was approaching the crater rim around 8:30 AM. After photos and high-fives on the summit the team will return to Camp Muir and continue their descent to Paradise. There program will conclude this afternoon with a celebration at Rainier BaseCamp. Congratulations to today's climbers!
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Congratulations Kerry & Jeff, you did it…..never a doubt!  We miss you, just know, it’s 100 degrees in Colorado today, the snow looks very refreshing.  See you soon. Kisses

Posted by: Grandma on 9/2/2019 at 2:39 pm

Awesome Jeff & Kerry! What a great feeling it must be to train and accomplish such a feat

Posted by: Tom Hutcheson on 9/2/2019 at 11:08 am

Mt. Rainier: Five Day Teams Reach Summit

The Five Day Climb August 25 - 29 reached the summit of Mt. Rainier on Wednesday evening. RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and Josh McDowell reported a light breeze and clear skies. The weather at Camp Muir this morning is cloudy with a soaking rain. The team is hoping the rain dissipates for their departure and walk down the Muir Snowfield to Paradise. The team will celebrate their adventure in Ashford later today and conclude their program. Congratulations to the Five Day Climber!
Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Awesome climb, awesome guides, good advice. professional team. Thanks josh! Take care.


Posted by: Paul koltronis on 9/2/2019 at 2:04 am

Way to go, dad! What an amazing accomplishment. . . You never cease to amaze us! We love you and are so proud of you!

Safe journey to the mainland.

Love and God Bless,

Bo, Chris, and Carlton

Posted by: Bo, Chris, and Carlton on 8/29/2019 at 2:20 pm

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Wrap Up by RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer

Our Elbrus Northside team has returned to the U.S. and had a bit of time to work through the jet lag of jumping nine hours back in time on the return trip home. Our time in St. Petersburg was spectacular. The city has the feel of Old Europe, and is often compared to Venice because of the numerous canals and rivers that crisscross the city. Founded by Peter the Great, and the capitol of the Russian Empire for nearly 200 years, St. Petersburg is still considered the cultural capitol of Russia. We arrived mid afternoon with enough time to take a stroll around the city, before a delicious dinner at the Jerome, a perennial favorite restaurant year after year. The following day we took the city by storm, following our tour guide Olga as we walked as many of architectural and public space sites as we could fit in. From St. Issacs Cathedral with it's colorful mosaics, massive pillars, and scars on the facade left over from the 900+ day siege of St. Petersburg during WWII, to the luxurious Summer Gardens of the Romanovs, St. Petersburg displays the wealth, opulence, culture, and liveliness of the Tsar era. We spent the afternoon wandering through the massive winter palace of the Romanovs, now home to the Hermitage Museum. We spent the evening on a delightful canal tour by boat, and our last dinner in Russia. St. Petersburg averages only 60 days of sunlight each year, but our impression was far different - blue skies, comfortable temps, nice breezes on the canal, it was everything that summer should be and a nice refresh after our time on the mountain. International climbing trips at their best are about far more than just the mountain or the climbing. The cultural and historical sites we saw, the insight into their history that we gained, and the people we met along the way are just as important. We had a number of interactions with teams of Russian climbers in camp, eager to understand how and why we had come so far to climb their humble mountain. The stories we read in the news, on either side of the ocean, can paint the other's countries as adversaries and opponents, but everyone we met was overwhelmingly friendly. As one climber in a hut one evening put it, "The people you meet in the mountains - they are good people." That was true of the climbers we met, and most certainly true of our team as well. Watching everyone work through the tough days, have their great days, and come together in difficult moments - such as setting up tents at 15,000' in a blustery 35 mph wind - is one of the joys of guiding and climbing, and it was such a pleasure to work with this team. Thanks so much to them, to our local outfitter, to Sasha, our local guide, translator, and fixer of all, and thanks to everyone who followed along. We’ll be back at it next year! RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and Mike Uchal
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Mt. Elbrus: Van Deventer & North Side Team Depart Base Camp, Return to City Mode

Thursday, August 15, 2019 - 8:32 PM PT We are out of the mountains! It took a little extra time to make it happen. One of the vans apparently broke down on the way to get us, necessitating a return to Kislovodsk for another vehicle, and a few hour delay. The WAS van eventually showed up at base camp and unloaded its inhabitants and gear, and we proceeded to pack the back full with duffels. The river had risen, so rather than be in the van for the crossing, we walked across the nearby fields, crossed the river on a small bridge, and met the van on the far side. The four wheel drive road is always exciting as we sway back and forth with the ruts, and was made even more so by the uncanny resemblance of our vehicle to a clown car with everyone inside. Though we arrived late to Kislovodsk, we got a delicious dinner at a Georgian restaurant on the central pedestrian mall. Tomorrow we transition back to big city mode, making our way to St. Petersburg. RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Mike Uchal, and team hurry up and wait
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Mt. Elbrus: Van Deventer & Team Descend to Base Camp

The mountain time is coming to a close. We managed to get everything stuffed into, tied to the side, or strapped under our packs and split freedom the moraine camp this morning. Loads were heavy, but we were moving with gravity, and we made it to base camp nice and quickly. It's only been a week up high, but after a week if rocks and glacier, the green of plants down low looks like it was done in technicolor. Base camp comes with perks: pizzas, caucasian pies, and cold fantas, cokes, and beers. We took the afternoon to sort gear back into duffels to be better set up for our coming flights, soak feet in the mineral springs, and enjoy a last bit of the mountain. The vans will be here in the morning for us and before we know it, we'll be back in town. The trip is not over though. Still to come, adventures in Kislovodsk and St. Petersburg. RMI Guides Pete, Mike, and team we're psyched to be done with boots
Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Great job Marcky-poo! Cant wait to have you back at my place. Miss you and love you!

Posted by: Lindsey on 8/15/2019 at 10:09 am

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Summits!

We had a PERFECT summit day today. Last night's winds had calmed by morning and we got started just before 8 am. We climbed along Lenz Rocks before banking to the west and beginning the traverse across a large bowl towards the saddle between the East and West summits. The sky was brilliant blue all day without a cloud in the sky. We intersected the route to the West summit and all of the Southside climbers midway up the final pitch. The timing couldn't have been better as all of them were already descending and we had the summit entirely to ourselves, something of a rarity on Elbrus. The views over the surrounding Caucasus and the verdant green hills back towards Kislovodsk were stunning, and we spent about 30 minutes on top taking them in. Marc and Mike decided to take an extra jaunt to tag the East summit as well, while the rest of the team descended back to our camp at Lenz. We took a brief break, then packed our camp to descend further to the relative comforts of the Moraine Camp at 12,000'. With ramen to recharge us, we're headed to bed after a long, full day. We'll continue to base camp in the morning, more than likely spend the night there, then return to Kislovodsk the following day. But now, to bed. RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Mike Uchal, and team

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Congratulations!!! How awesome!  Safe travels back everyone!

Posted by: Jimmy Hoadrea on 8/14/2019 at 10:11 am

Congratulations Dan and the entire team!

Posted by: Tom Maddalena on 8/14/2019 at 7:16 am

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Take 2 at High Camp

Things looked pretty perfect this morning, so we loaded up our packs and started climbing. Lenz Rocks is a somewhat exposed camp and there aren't so many tent sites, so we were happy to be some of the first out of camp with full-looking backpacks intending to stay up high tonight. The breeze mainly kept things pleasantly cool as we worked our way up the glacier, intensifying only just as we reached Lenz. It took the whole team working together to keep a handle on tents as we got them set up. Now, we are comfortably moved into our abodes, resting for the summit push tomorrow. The winds are supposed to continue to diminish overnight, so things are shaping up nicely. RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Mike Uchal, and team "can we leave this break yet?"

On The Map

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