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Shishapangma: RMI Team Ready to Begin Rotations Above Camp 1

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 | Cross Training

As we focus forward on the training for this year’s climbing adventures, we know we’ll be hiking, climbing, probably doing some stair interval training with heavy packs, and developing strength training routines.

The training adventures need not be boring though, cross-training keeps us both balanced and motivated.

I like to categorize my cross training by asking, “Is this a direct benefit to mountain climbing or is this activity more general conditioning focused?” Sports like cycling, cross-country skiing or skating have a very direct benefit in building endurance for the mountains, in fact a bike ride can be a perfect substitute for a hike.

Other sports like soccer, kickboxing, or activities like dancing and yoga, while perhaps not as directly related to mountain climbing, can have wonderful benefits for overall conditioning.

Thinking out of the box completely, I met a person last week who did remarkably well on a training hike despite not having ‘trained’ very much. I asked him where he thought his fitness came from and he said, “I’m a UPS driver, I use a pedometer to track my steps and generally do 15,000 steps each day - most of them carrying boxes.” 15,000 steps equals about 5 miles walking! I think he’s going to have a big head-start on his 16 week training program!

Cross training is an important part of your training program, keeping you mentally engaged and physically healthy. Beyond the cornerstones of your regular training program that includes long hikes, short intense sessions, and strength training, what fun things do you enjoy to do to which add to your fitness? Are you lucky enough to have one of those jobs which gets you walking during the day? How can you plan your days to add an activity or sneak in a few extra miles from place to place? 

Get outside and be creative with your cross training!

- 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.

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts with John and other readers on the RMI Blog!

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Hi Jesse,
Please see the post below for more information on Stair Interval Training:
- The RMI Team

Posted by: RMI Expeditions on 3/4/2013 at 7:42 am

“stair interval training (40 min)” appeared in Week 3 of the Rainier Fit to Climb Program, but I don’t see any description of what should be done for this.

Posted by: Jesse Cude on 2/28/2013 at 8:23 am

Mt. Rainier: Remembering Our Climbing Friends

Our thoughts are with our friends at Alpine Ascents and with the family and relatives of the guides and climbers involved in the climbing accident on Mt. Rainier. The climbing community is tightly knit and we feel the loss deeply. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to all of those involved.

Please join the climbing community for a memorial service for Eitan Green and Mathew Hegeman:

Saturday, June 21, 2014 | 3 - 5 pm
The Mountaineers | 7700 Sandy Point Way NE | Seattle, WA 98115

- The RMI Team

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My heartfelt condolences.  A painful and poignant reminder that these professionals only make climbing LOOK easy and without risk.

Posted by: Danny Bobrow on 6/17/2014 at 2:04 pm

God Bless those who were taken “home” during this part of their life’s journey. May peace come to the family and friends of all.
Please forgive the commercialism attached to this ... but i simply cannot think of a better song for those who were called to ... and from ... the mountain !!!!!


Posted by: Kathy Wolf on 6/2/2014 at 2:14 pm

Lou Whittaker Interview

RMI Founder Lou Whittaker was interviewed last month by the Magic Valley Newspaper in Twin Falls, ID. Lou took some time off from skiing in Sun Valley to sit down and talk about his lifetime of climbing. Check out the article: Famous Mountain Climber Lou Whittaker Talks about His Highest Climbs.

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Mountaineering Training | 5 Packing Tips From RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer

Between training and the climb itself, climbers spend a lot of time with a pack on their backs.  Somewhat of a necessary evil, the goal is to make your pack carry comfortably and efficiently so that it doesn’t work against you.  A few tips that will result in a more enjoyable pack to carry:

1. Minimize dead space in the pack
2. Try to fit everything (except the ice axe) inside the pack
3. Keep the mass of the pack close to your body
4. Frequently adjust the straps to carry the load more comfortably
5. Have a system

Minimizing dead space in the pack will help the pack ride in a more balanced way, and allow you to fit everything inside.  A big factor that creates dead space is too many stuff sacks packed together.  Round or barrel shaped stuff sacks don’t nest together well, instead leaving large gaps between them (like a cup full of marbles).  To minimize this effect, try to limit the number of stuff sacks you use.  A compression stuff sack for your sleeping bag is important, as it dramatically reduces the volume of the sleeping bag, but most of the other items can be packed loose, without stuff sacks.  The down parka and spare insulating layers do a great job of packing around the sleeping bag to fill any spaces.  Some guides go so far as to pack their pack partway, and then (taking care not to crush anything breakable) insert their foot into the pack and squish everything down to squeeze out all of the air.  In addition, if climbers have packs with dedicated sleeping bag compartments, I often recommend that they detach the shelf that separates the compartment from the main pack, and treat the pack as one large tube.  Sleeping bag compartments tend to create dead space where we want it least, right near the center of mass of our bodies. 

Minimize the number of items that are attached to the outside of the pack.  The ice axe generally has a dedicated attachment point (the ice axe loops), and is really the only exception to this rule.  The rest of our equipment should fit inside the pack.  With a little bit of thought, items that seem to take up a lot of space can be packed more efficiently.  For example, by stuffing the helmet with extra socks and food before packing it, the volume of the helmet itself becomes very little.  Crampons can be put together so that the tines cover each other, and they too can be placed in the pack.  Items clipped to the outside of the pack tend to swing, get damaged, and make a ruckus.  By minimizing the number of items clipped to the outside of the pack, your pack will carry more comfortably and with less noise!

In general when you are packing, place items that you won’t need or use that stretch to the bottom of the pack, while items that you would like to keep handy (food, sunscreen, etc) stay near the top.  Additionally, place heavier items closer to the back panel of the pack, keeping them nearer your center of mass.

There is no perfect fit for a pack, and comfort and fit of your pack will change throughout the course of a climb or training session.  In general, try to carry the majority of the weight on your hips.  When putting on a pack, hitch the pack up higher on your back than it will ride, and cinch down the waist strap.  Then tighten the shoulder straps until they just make contact with your shoulders.  Next, lightly tighten the load lifter straps on the shoulder straps and waist belt.  This helps to pull the weight of the pack in closer to your back and helps with balance.  Lastly, constantly adjust throughout the day as discomforts arise!

Have a system to your pack so that you have a good idea where each item is.  This will save you time and frustration throughout the climb, if you can reach straight to a warmer pair of gloves for example, rather than unpack most of your pack each time you need an item.  With a well-organized system, you will spend more time at each break resting and recovering, and less time digging for items in your pack. 

With a little bit of time and practice your pack won’t be such a burden and your training sessions, and ultimately the climb, will be more enjoyable!

Pete Van Deventer is a senior guide at RMI Expeditions. A former collegiate nordic skier, Pete climbs and guides around the world, from the Andes to Alaska. Read about Pete’s recent sailing and ski mountaineering trip to Norway’s Lofoten Islands on the RMI Blog.

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

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Hi Vikas,
It depends on how many days you are heading out for and what kinds of conditions you expect to encounter. In general, a 60L - 85L pack should be adequate for a backpacking trip of several days in the summer. Check out Whittaker Mountaineering’s Guide to Backpacks for more information on picking and sizing a pack:
- The RMI Team

Posted by: RMI Expeditions on 5/24/2014 at 12:42 pm

What size of bag do you recommend on multiple day backpacking trips?

Posted by: vikas on 5/21/2014 at 6:14 pm

Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 12

Fit to Climb: Week 12 Schedule

1 Rainier Dozen / Easy Hiking ( 30 min) 42 min. Medium
2 1-2-3 Stair Workout x 5 90 min. Very Hard
3 Rainier Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
4 Rainier Dozen / Fartlek Training Hike (2 hrs) 120 min. Very Hard
5 Rainier Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
6 Rainier Dozen / Hike (3 hrs) 192 min. Medium
7 Rainier Dozen / Hike (7 hrs, 15 pounds of pack weight) 432 min. Medium
Total 15 hrs.


At this point in the 16 week training program, you are all in and the end is not far off! This week adds a second hike to your weekend, the Day 2 stair session becomes a little more challenging, and you’ll be adding a new kind of workout in for a bit of variety: a fartlek hike on Day 4.


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
Warm up with some moderate paced stair climbing. Then, make three efforts: one moderately hard, one very hard, and one close to maximal effort, with rest periods in between. This may look like:

• 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

Repeat this sequence five times.

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 /  Fartlek Training Hike (2 hrs)
‘Fartlek’ training is another version of interval training. The word originated in Sweden and means ‘Speed Play’. Fartlek training is popular with cyclists, runners and cross-country skiers. During your workout, you simply chose random ‘targets‘ like the top of a hill, a loop of a track, a tree or trail marker and then get after it with gusto! Increase your effort level as much as you feel like and mix up the length of the intervals for variety. I like this type of training because it replicates the unpredictable nature of mountain terrain: you can never be certain of the terrain or length of challenging portions of the climb. It’s fun too; it helps to pass the time while training alone, or adds a competitive challenge with friends. If you lack stairs, you can use any uphill grade and no matter the terrain, you can always increase intensity by adding weight to your pack.

Warm up with the Rainier Dozen, and then hike for two hours. Depending on how you are feeling, pick a spot on the trail that feels an appropriate distance away, and sprint to it. Alternate these high speed sections with walking at your regular pace. If you are doing the workout with friends, you can take turns picking the target.

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 / 3 Hour Hike
The back-to-back hikes this weekend mimic the actual Mount Rainier climb where you complete two days of climbing in a row. The conditioning benefit is to get used to doing these long practice sessions close together. By this point, you’re getting so used to hiking so that this won’t seem like a significant challenge as it would be before the program.

Warm up with the Rainier Dozen and then hike for 3 hours. You may choose to include some pack weight if you’re looking for a little extra challenge.

Day 7: 7 Hour Hike (15 pounds of weight)
Warm up with the Rainier Dozen, and then hike for 7 hours, or about 12 - 14 miles. Be sure to hike at an even pace and bring all of the clothing, food, and equipment you need to be on the trail all day.


This week is capped off with your first back-to-back hike. You may be tired when you start the second hike, or even have some muscle fatigue, but try and persevere. There are great benefits to be gained from introducing your body to the stress of multiple days of extended effort as it prepares you for the same challenges of climbing. We are headed into the final push of preparation over the coming weeks with several of these back-to-back days. When the climb comes you’ll know what to expect and how to take care of yourself over several days of climbing!

- 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.

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I am currently signed up for the Rainer hike this coming Summer.  I have done Devils Path in Catskills, NY which is 25 miles, 10,000 ft of climbing in 12 hours as well as climb Mount Mitchell in NC which is about 8 miles and 4,500 feet of climbing which took about 2 hours.  I obviously will have ample time between when the 16 week program ends and my hike.  Is there any suggestions for me to continue to keep in shape between the end of my training program and my hike? I know I am in good shape for the hike through trying hikes like I mentioned above but wanted to know how I continue to stay on that level. Thanks!

Posted by: Stephen on 11/17/2015 at 5:49 am

I’ve been down since labor day. My inner thigh started cramping at the end of a hike, cramped through the night, then stiffened up. The following day the skin was very bruised like I had bumped it but I had not. It’s still sore. Before and during the hike I was hydrating with clear water and occasional electrolytes because I seem to have cramping issues, but I don’t remember sweating very much. It was a cool, dry, sunny day and I was often in a tee shirt. Maybe I was evaporating off more than I realized? Truthfully, I had cheated on the training a little. I thought I was ready for a fun 13,600’ spring climb of Mt Dade in the Sierra Nevada, spring snow fields, and an overnight pack. It was only a 4 mile 1000’ ft elevation approach to an 11,000’ base camp, which is where I started cramping and turned back from the next day. It was a bear descending. I’ve been doing nothing since as far as training, but I’m going to start up again. Any advice on recovery training, and preventing this kind of injury on the the next big hike?

Posted by: Robert on 6/8/2014 at 12:19 pm

Mountaineering Training | Rest & Recovery

Rest and recovery is an important part of the training process and there are many techniques, both active and passive, that can help. Recovery from your training efforts can be looked at from physiological and psychological perspectives. Here are some tips: 

1. Plan Your Training: The first step in getting adequate recovery is crafting a solid training plan allowing for phases of training to build progressively and allowing time for active rest.

2. Keep Track: Keeping a training log is a good way of reviewing your progress. I suggest recording not only the volume, intensity, and type of each workout completed, but also your own notes about how you felt in each workout. Self-monitoring how you feel mentally (strong, weak, interested, un-interested) will allow you to see how you are progressing in an overall sense.

3. Get Psychological Rest: Psychological strategies are important factors in reducing and managing stress. Relaxation, meditation, reading, visualization, and using a coach as a sounding board are all valuable tools in helping to maintain focus and a positive attitude throughout your training. Relaxation is also helpful in ensuring quality sleep, which is essential for recovery.

4. Take Social Time: Too much of a good thing can be bad for us. Taking a complete break from climbing and hiking to participate in alternative activities can be a good way to decompress. Mix your hard training up with a different sport; play soccer, frisbee - anything really. At RMI there is a penchant for beach volleyball, ping pong, and horseshoes - it’s a nice mental break from the mountain and those downtime matches are intense but a lot of fun. 

5. Get Therapeutic Rest: Sports massage, some forms of yoga, hot baths, and hydro-massage are just some examples of the many techniques available to help relax muscles after training and prepare for subsequent training sessions. 

6. Pay Attention to Nutrition: Proper nutrition is essential for complete recovery. Quality food that is rich in nutrients is a key requirement for re-supplying energy stores and maintaining our body, it’s muscles, bones, organs, and systems (see Nutrition for Mountaineering Training for more information on nutrition).

Mountain climbing is tough on the mind and body - and so is training for it. When we climb we steal every opportunity to recover from the hard work so that we can get up the next day and do it again. Training demands the same attention to rest and recovery. This is a work-hard, rest-hard activity and often times your success will be as much dependent on how well you rest as how hard you train. 

- 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? Leave a comment to share your thoughts with John and other readers!

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Starting week 6 of Fit by Nature, awesome philosophy of fitness by active, outdoor lifestyle.  I love the Daily Dozen and being able to link the natural features of our community: bike paths, parks, beaches & hills to create a mini adventure every day, while making sure I’m ready for the big adventure any day!

Posted by: Jim McCracken on 3/31/2014 at 11:18 am

Mountaineering Training | Anaerobic Threshold & Interval Training

Mountaineering is thought of as a “slow and steady” sport. Indeed, the climbing pace when nearing the summit is amazingly slow given the effort required by the high altitude, especially in comparison to moving at the same speed at lower elevations. As a result, climbers often overlook the necessity of incorporating speed and intensity into their training routine and instead focus on long, slow aerobic-oriented workouts. This is a mistake. Interval training is an important component of conditioning for mountaineering as it raises your anaerobic threshold, effectively giving you “more gears” when climbing at altitude. 
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic
Generally speaking, aerobic activity is the zone of physical activity where the body is able to provide adequate oxygen to the cells to keep them fueled, reducing the rate of fatigue. Anaerobic exercise is when the physical effort is high enough that the body cannot provide enough oxygen to the cells, causing them to use other energy stores to make up the difference and causing a much higher rate of fatigue. Think of taking a casual walk through the park (aerobic) vs. sprinting up multiple flights of stairs (anaerobic) - which can you sustain for longer? 
As athletes and climbers, our goal is to raise our anaerobic threshold - the level of effort where our bodies transition between aerobic and anaerobic activity. A higher anaerobic threshold allows us to climb at increased effort levels (like climbing at altitude) without entering an anaerobic zone and tiring quickly. Some sources say that climbing in your anaerobic zone will deplete your energy stores as much as 16x more quickly than staying within your aerobic zone! Raising your anaerobic threshold provides huge gains to your fitness when you head into the mountains. 
Interval Training: Raising Your Anaerobic Threshold
Interval Training is one of the most effective way to raise your anaerobic threshold. Interval training consists of short, intense bursts of physical effort. Learn more about general interval training here. The best types of intervals for improving your anaerobic threshold are extended efforts at just below your maximal effort level (or maximum heart rate if you train with a heart rate monitor) repeated several times with an equal amount of rest between intervals. The exact intervals you complete depends on your fitness level and chosen activity. Discuss an appropriate interval plan with a trainer or fitness specialist. General intervals targeting your anaerobic threshold include:

4 x 4 mins with 4 mins rest
• 5 x 3 mins with 3 mins rest
• 4 x 800m with 3 mins rest

You can do intervals while running, hiking, biking, on a rowing machine, or any sort of aerobic exercise equipment. Be sure to properly warm up and cool down before and after every session. Like all training activities, anaerobic interval training is best incorporated into a broader training routine, be sure to continue to include aerobic, strength and core, flexibility, and balance and agility training. It is best to begin your interval training in the early stages of your training plan so that your body is familiar with the exercises, you have the time to recover and improve, and are not exhausting yourself with intense interval training immediately before your climb. 
In order to truly go “slow and steady” in the mountains, we need to first go short and fast!

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

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Mountaineering Training | Training In Cold Temperatures

Another wide ranging cold front is dropping across the U.S. this weekend, drawing down Arctic air and threatening to plunge temperatures below zero from coast to coast.  Seriously cold wintertime temps aren’t abnormal for many athletes in more northern climes, and most grit their teeth, throw on a couple more layers, and continue with their training.  Training goes on and we make the most of the weather, but treat these cold snaps with respect.  Several studies, by the Norwegian and Swedish national athletic programs, as well as the US Olympic committee, have shown that strenuous endurance training in cold, dry conditions can lead to lung and bronchial irritation and inflammation, and that prolonged training in these conditions increases the incidence of asthma and bronchospasms. 

After the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998, the US Olympic committee found that over 25% of the American team suffered from bronchospasms (uncontrollable spasms of the bronchi), and that of cross country skiers (athletes making long and exerted efforts in snowy and cold conditions), this respiratory problem was present in over half of the individuals.  A similar study of elite level cross country skiers in Sweden and Norway showed repeatedly that over half of these athletes display asthma like symptoms and decreased lung capacity. 

While a few days of training during a cold snap won’t be enough to cause most athletes long term respiratory distress, it could be enough to cause some bronchial irritation and inflammation that could impact training for the next few weeks.  This may be a good time to focus your training week on a few more gym and indoor workouts, and if you do train outside, consider training with a neck gaiter or buff over your mouth, to help warm the air as it enters your lungs.  In chronically cold places, such as Alaska, athletes have developed special masks for training in cold conditions.  Essentially stripped down respirators, they hollow metal grid of the mask retains the heat of each exhaled breath, helping to warm the next breath.

Stay motivated, wear a few more layers, and take care.  If an outdoor workout leaves your lungs and throat feeling raw and irritated, don’t push it.  Do your next few sessions indoors, the irritation heal and subside.  Good luck and happy training!

Read more about the respiratory studies here.

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

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Mt. Everest Expedition: Team to Organize Safe Retreat From the Mountain

We’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that Everest summit for 2015 is out of reach for our team.  Besides the rather obvious and glaring philosophical difficulties of pursuing a recreational venture in the midst of a national -and local- disaster, there are the on-the-ground mountaineering realities that will not permit us to look upward again.  We have no viable route through the Khumbu Icefall and the Earth is still shaking.  We couldn’t think of asking anyone to put themselves at the risk required for re establishing that route under such circumstances.  The effort at this advanced stage of the season would normally be focused on building a route to Camp 4 rather than to Camp 1,  nobody will be able to say when the aftershocks will end, but it will -without a doubt- be too late for fixing the upper mountain and stocking camps before the normal advance of the monsoon.
We’ll put our efforts into an organized and safe retreat from the mountain.  Nobody harbors illusions that travel in this stricken and damaged country will be simple, but we’ll head for home now in any case.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Your shining example amid tragedy for the second time in 24 months make me proud to have been associated with RMI…You help all understand how to be w-i-t-h the mtn as well as o-n it, and more importantly to be with others, inhabitants as well as climbers.
Best + God bless JJ and team. Waltero

Posted by: Waltero Glover on 4/29/2015 at 8:32 am

Safe thoughts for the unsure journey ahead.

Posted by: holly seaton on 4/29/2015 at 8:02 am

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