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Mt. Everest: RMI Guide Dave Hahn Reflects on the Tragedy in Nepal

RMI Guide Dave Hahn reflects on the events surrounding Mt. Everest and the Nepal Earthquake tragedy.

Mount Everest was simply too big for climbing in the Spring of 2015.  The RMI Expeditions team was on the mountain and giving it our very best effort when the Nepal Earthquake struck and changed all priorities.
Six climbers -guided by myself, Jeff Justman and our Sherpa Sirdar Chhering Dorje- made the trek in from Lukla over ten days.  We were one of the very first Everest teams to reach the 17,500 ft Basecamp this season, pulling in healthy and strong on April 4th.  RMI Veteran Guide Mark Tucker, our capable Basecamp Manager, was already on scene along with our Sherpa climbing team and camp support staff.  Frequent snowstorms didn’t keep our team from making a series of acclimatization hikes to local “summits” such as Kalapathar and Pumori Camp One. With great interest, we followed the progress of the Icefall Doctors as they forged a “new” route up the Khumbu Glacier to the Western Cwm.  Our own training and reconnaissance runs through the Icefall were pushed back by repeated snowstorms but we persevered and moved into Camp One at 19,900 ft on April 23.  On the morning of April 25th, the team had climbed to Camp Two (Advanced Basecamp at 21,300 ft) and returned to Camp One ahead of a threatening snowstorm when the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck.  Luckily, due to the poor weather, our Sherpa climbing team had cut short their own climbing mission that morning and had exited the Khumbu Icefall well before the quake hit.  Giant ice avalanches thundered down from seemingly every steep mountainside. 

Fortunately, within just a few minutes via radio, we were able to establish the whereabouts and safety of our entire team. Nonetheless, the reports from basecamp were disturbing in the extreme.  The airblast caused by an avalanche off Pumori had decimated a number of camps while largely flattening our own.  Mark Tucker estimated they’d been hit by a cloud of ice debris moving at perhaps 150 miles per hour.  Even so, Tucker and our Sherpa team engaged in a heroic, prolonged and strenuous effort to attend to the numerous casualties of the disaster.  Those of us at Camp One could do nothing but sit out the snowstorm and hold on for the inevitable aftershocks.  This pronounced and continued shaking made it abundantly clear that a hazardous and time-consuming effort to rebuild the Icefall route was out of the question.  On April 27th, we came back down to basecamp by helicopter.  We were considerably relieved to be safe and united once again, but the scope of the disaster was becoming increasingly clear.  As reports of widespread destruction and disruption across Nepal now came flooding in, climbing mountains quickly receded in importance.  Our Sherpa team was justifiably anxious to be getting back to check on homes and loved ones.  We formally ended our climbing expedition and made plans for heading home.

The three-day walk down toward Lukla allowed ample opportunity for contemplation.  Our emotions were conflicted by the bizarre circumstances we found ourselves in.  In the days immediately following the quake, foreign climbers and trekkers had quickly fled the Khumbu Valley, leaving it blissfully quiet.  As much as we enjoyed the solitude, we each were aware that we were seeing the beginning of the financial disaster that would inevitably follow the natural disaster.  Tourism is virtually the only source of revenue in rural Nepal.  We tried to reconcile the absolute beauty of the setting, still majestic with snow-topped peaks and magical with blooming rhododendrons, with the tragedy on display in the villages.  We walked through funeral ceremonies and past ruined stone homes and lodges.  Locals still greeted us with a warm “Namaste” even as we learned from our Sherpa staff that homes and businesses in these still-picturesque villages were destroyed and that insurance for such losses did not exist.  Then we were down to Namche and Lukla and naturally our focus shifted to getting ourselves out to Kathmandu.  We were simply thankful that facilities like the airports seemed to be getting back to business as usual.  Convinced that getting ourselves out of Nepal as quickly as possible would be our best service to the Nepalese, we each left the country within one or two days of reaching Kathmandu.  I’m certain we were all relieved to get back to the safety and comfort of our homes… but none of us could truly leave behind what we’d seen and experienced.  The aftershocks continued and we were all acutely aware that the 7.2 quake on May 12th had scored a direct hit on the villages of our own Sherpa/Nepali expedition staff.  Previously weakened structures had come down completely and entire villages were ruined.  We are each now struggling from afar to find ways to help those who’ve helped us so much.  It is quite a different mountain than the one we set out to climb back in March… but it is a worthy struggle nonetheless.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Want to know more about rock climbing and other mountaineering sports refer to our website for details www.mountaineering.asia

Posted by: Tripti on 1/11/2016 at 1:19 am

Namaste from Truchas. Having twice trekked in the Khumbu, climbed Pokalde & Imja Tse, and was involved with the Friends of Shanta Bhawan clinic, I have strong affection for the people of Nepal, particularly the Sherpas. For anyone who is considering making a donation I most highly recommend the American Himalayan Foundation (www.himalayan-foundation.org)as an organization that will properly direct all contributions.

Posted by: Richard Hasbrouck on 5/25/2015 at 9:57 am

Mountaineering Training | Core Strength Training

The question of how to build strength for mountaineering can be answered in many ways. First, consider what kind of strength is needed when climbing. We need strength in our legs to carry ourselves up and down the mountain; we need strength in our back and shoulders to carry our backpack over uneven and variable surfaces; we need general body strength to tackle the everyday tasks such as setting up camp, digging tent platforms, or even to use an ice axe to arrest a fall. This strength can best be described as overall core strength.
One way to think of core strength is to consider our body’s ability to move functionally through a wide range of motion in a variety of directions with and without resistance. Many activities will develop this, ranging from certain gym classes and circuit training, to activities like dance, yoga, and weight training. These are all activities that can be done for a few minutes a day or for an hour or two several times a week. If you have an activity that meets all of these goals, I encourage you to continue to use it.  
If you are looking for an all-around core strength activity that you can do anywhere, then look no further than the Daily Dozen. This workout can be done anywhere and with no equipment; you can even do it in your pj’s in the kitchen while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew! The Daily Dozen is a key workout of my book Fit By Nature and I use it routinely in my training sessions around Seattle. As a special resource for the readers of RMI’s Weekly Mountaineering Training Series, you can download an excerpt from Fit By Nature that gives a detailed description of the Daily Dozen with accompanying photographs:  
Download the Daily Dozen Description here.
Often, the question comes up: “Is twelve minutes of training sufficient?”  In reality, if you do 12 minutes each day, it adds up to almost an hour and a half per week of core strength training. However, if you prefer to make it a longer workout, you can simply run through the Daily Dozen two or three times. You can even combine it with other exercises to make it an all-around workout. For instance, in between each exercise, you can walk a set of stairs or do a short run.  
What is important is to make your core strength training work for you. Remember the key concepts of moderation and consistency; this means that it’s better to train more often at a moderate intensity than it is to try and do all of your strength training in one big session once a week.
- 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.

Mt. Everest: RMI Expedition Ends

We began the day with hope that we might be getting closer to resuming climbing.  Billy and JJ took the climbers hiking while Mark Tucker and I met with a number of other climb leaders and Sherpa sirdars.  Those meetings convinced us that the right course was to give up on Mount Everest for Spring 2014.  In future dispatches, we’ll try to quantify the reasons for such a decision.  But for now, suffice to say that the risks outweigh the possibility of success.

This week has been a roller coaster of emotion for many of us, from the horror that came with the avalanche of April 18, to the confusion that followed it regarding the right course to take for balancing respect for the dead, concern for team safety and summit ambitions.  Following the accident, our list of serious obstacles to an Everest summit was always significant, but we believed it worthwhile to continue looking for some way forward.  Our climbers, Sherpas, guides, and outfitters had put too much into the planning and execution of this trip to let go of the goal with less than our best effort.  We’ve given that now.

We’ll start heading for home soon.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI guides make great decisions.  Dave, Billy, JJ.  This is why I’ve climbed a number of summits with RMI—you literally are trusting them with your life to make good decisions. 

While I’m sure this was an extremely difficult decision, I believe it was the right one.  Sometimes you have to listen to what the mountain (and circumstances) are telling you.

Safe travels home.

Posted by: Dan on 4/25/2014 at 7:38 am

So sorry for the loss and for the tough situation it put you all.  I’m glad you are safe and coming home.  JJ—you’ll have many, many more climbs….

Posted by: Randy Christofferson on 4/25/2014 at 5:23 am

Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 10

Fit to Climb: Week 10 Schedule

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


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.


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.


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.

Difficult to find a long set of stairs that takes a full 2 minutes to climb.  Is the time of exertion the most important piece of this exercise, or the amount of exertion per session that is important?

Posted by: Jason Stiles on 5/6/2015 at 9:49 am

Hi Steve,
This plan sounds like a good way to get some distance and elevation into your training routine. Check out some of the later weeks of Fit To Climb to see how the series proposes a set of similar workouts (Week 12: http://www.rmiguides.com/blog/2013/04/22/mountaineering_training_fit_to_climb_week_12, Week 13: http://www.rmiguides.com/blog/2013/04/29/mountaineering_training_fit_to_climb_week_13, Week 14: http://www.rmiguides.com/blog/2013/05/06/mountaineering_training_fit_to_climb_week_14).
As always, bring the necessary gear to be outside in a variety of conditions and have fun!
- The RMI Team

Posted by: RMI Expeditions on 7/7/2014 at 8:50 am

RMI Guide Katie Bono Recounts Mt. Rainier Speed Ascent

RMI Guide Katie Bono completed a speed ascent of Mt. Rainier on July 24th, ascending from the Paradise Parking Lot to the summit of Mt. Rainier and returning to Paradise in 4:58. Her ascent is believed to be the fastest ascent of Mt. Rainier by a female climber. Here, Katie describes her climb:

I first thought of doing a speed ascent on Rainier late in the summer of 2011.  I started guiding with RMI that summer and spent plenty of time that year carrying heavy loads up the Muir snowfield as quickly as possible.  I come from a cross-country ski racing background and I raced professionally for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, the Rossignol Factory Team, and Dartmouth College before that. I quit ski racing in 2011 but soon realized that I missed the feeling of pushing myself hard and finding my limits.  As a result, this summer I found myself thinking about a speed attempt more frequently.  It seemed like a cool way to push myself in a way I hadn’t before.  When I first started thinking about it, I was planning for something in the sub-7:00 range.  As a way to test the waters, I did a hike up the Muir Snowfield in early July trying to simulate a manageable pace to the summit and ended up with a time of 1:36.  My time for running back down the Muir Snowfield was 38 min, including a stop to chat with friends.  After that, I sat down, did the math, and figured that if I could do 1:45 to Camp Muir (elevation gain of ~4600’), 1:45 from Camp Muir to the summit (~4400’), 1:00 back to Camp Muir, and 0:30 to Paradise, I could do it in 5 hours.  The big questions were:

1. Whether I could maintain pace all the way up to 14k of altitude and 3.5 hours of uphill hiking, and
2. If taking an hour to get from the summit to Camp Muir would feel at all unsafe.  I didn’t want to do the climb recklessly - it was just a fun and unique challenge.

The next step was figuring out my gear plan.  Fortunately, I’ve had a very full schedule on Rainier this summer, and as a result, I had lots of time to think about logistics at Camp Muir while trying to fall asleep at 6:00 P.M.  I decided the best plan would be to wear running shoes, specifically a pair of shoes with built-in gaiters I had lying around.  I would wear YakTrax to Camp Muir and up to around 12,000.  After that, the route gets steep enough and snowy enough that I would don aluminum strap-on crampons over my running shoes.  I checked out the forecast for the summit and used my experience from ski racing to figure out clothing strategies for racing hard in the cold - I would wear lightweight climbing pants, a base layer top, a super-lightweight hooded down jacket, and belay gloves as my layering system.  I also decided to bring along some gels and sports drink in a water belt.

When the day came, I woke up groggy and sleep-deprived.  I had picked up my boyfriend and fellow RMI guide at the airport the previous evening and hadn’t gotten back to Ashford until the wee hours.  Driving up the road to Paradise in the morning, I realized I forgot both my YakTrax, and my sunscreen.  Oh well, you only live once.  So I kept on driving up.  I got out of the car, tuned my iPod to some electronic music, and was off and running (or, more precisely, rest-stepping).  It was a beautiful morning, and perfect for climbing.  I had picked that day for good weather and good route conditions - the Disappointment Cleaver route is fast, direct, and reasonably safe right now so all systems were a go.  I started off around 6 a.m. so I could hit the snow conditions just right for ideal ascending and descending.  Having climbed the route two days prior, I had a solid sense of how to time it.  The lack of YakTrax turned out to be not an issue - the snow was just grippy enough to make it work. 

I reached Camp Muir at 1:38 on the timer, grabbed my crampons that I had cached earlier (and convinced some friends to set out for me), and dropped down onto the Cowlitz Glacier.  The next big hurdle was climbing the Disappointment Cleaver.  The whole way up, I had been walking at a very high cadence to minimize fatigue, but the rockiness of the Cleaver made it pretty much impossible to do that and it was a difficult stretch. After the Cleaver, the upper mountain was a haze of looking alternately at my feet, the rate of ascent function on my watch, and at the remainder of the mountain to climb.  I hit the crater rim at 3:30 on the time, sprinted (a.k.a. walked) across the crater rim over to Columbia Crest, did a quick gaze around the whole panorama of the Cascades, and headed down.  The crampons gave me just enough purchase to feel very safe running downhill, and I made it back to Camp Muir about 45 minutes after reaching the summit.  I passed the RMI groups on the way down, and they offered to radio the crew at Camp Muir to get out some Gatorade and baby wipes for me (the most uncomfortable part of the climb, hands down, was the massive salt deposits on my face.  However, they possibly helped prevent the outrageous sunburn I somehow avoided). 

After reaching Muir, I had 35 minutes to get back down to Paradise, but I was starting to falter.  I sprinted down through the sun cupped snow, trying not to fall with all my stabilizer muscles maxed to their limit and hit the trail leading back to Paradise.  At this point I was looking at my watch, fairly convinced that I was going to get to the parking lot just over 5 hours.  And, not that stuff like that really matters, but it’s somehow infinitely more satisfying to dip just under than just over.  So I focused in, tried not to terrify too many tourists with my mad dash, and reached the bottom of the steps at Paradise at 4:58:41.  I stumbled around glassy-eyed in the parking lot for a while, and then drove back home to get ready to climb the next day.  All in all, it was a great climb — I definitely surpassed my own expectations, and it was incredibly fun to be able to do it with the cheering and good vibes of all the other people on the route that day going for their own summits.   

While at Mountaineering Day School with RMI Guide Lindsay Mann, we saw a few seconds of this very epic run, as you flew down the mountain.  Awesome!

Posted by: Kelly Steele on 4/2/2015 at 9:18 pm

Holycow girl, you are UH-MAZIN’!!!
My best time was 4:50, and that was just to Camp Muir…lol.
Kudos to you…I only wish I was there that day to see you…my new hero:-)

Posted by: wendy holnagel on 8/2/2012 at 8:20 am

Mt. Everest Expedition: Team Flown from Camp One to Base Camp

April 26, 2015 9:23 pm PT
RMI Guide and Base Camp Manager Mark Tucker just called to confirm our team is safely back at Everest Base Camp.  We have not yet spoken with Dave, but wanted to pass this information along as soon as possible.
We will update when we know more about the team’s plan to descend from Base Camp.

Jeff Martin

Thank God you were rescued. I know you’ll continue to help the people around you any way you can. It’s no mistake you’re there.
Sue Hladik

Posted by: Sue Hladik on 4/27/2015 at 7:31 pm

JJ so glad you are safely back and the team.


Posted by: Joann beaver on 4/27/2015 at 12:33 pm

Mt. Rainier: Expedition Skills Seminar - Summit!

The Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir led by RMI Guides Brent Okita, Billy Nugent and Linden Mallory reached the summit of Mt. Rainier today.  The team was walking into the crater rim at 8:20 a.m.  Winds are 20 mph and there is a cloud cap on the mountain this morning.  The teams will return to Camp Muir and continue their training of expedition skills.  They will descend from Camp Muir to Paradise on Friday and conclude the program at Rainier BaseCamp.

Congratulations to today’s climbing teams!  Enjoy the rest of your time on the mountain.

Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 2

Congratulations on last week’s training, you are off to a great start! How does your body feel after seven practice sessions of the Daily Dozen?

The purpose of this week’s training is to continue to practice the Daily Dozen and to add a weekend hike to round things out. Choose an easy or moderate goal for the first hike.

This is the end of the adaptation phase. Next week is the beginning of the foundation phase.

Fit to Climb: Week 2 Schedule

1 Daily Dozen 12 min. Recovery
2 Daily Dozen + 40 Minute Hike 52 min. Medium
3 Daily Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
4 Daily Dozen + 40 Minute Hike 52 min. Medium
5 Daily Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
6 Daily Dozen + 2 Hour Hike 132 min. Medium
7 Rest - Recovery
Total 4 hrs 44 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.


Great question. If you are limited by terrain, you can use a treadmill on an incline as a tool. I would suggest trying to find a variety of activities though to keep you motivated. Other options could include stadium stairs (lots of laps) or lots of laps of a small hill. We’ve heard of folks training with lots of laps of old garbage dumps, road embankments, etc. A treadmill on an incline will help build the muscles that you use to step uphill, but every step is nearly the same. By getting off of the treadmill and outside, grass or any off pavement terrain will make each step different, building your balance muscles as well. Also, it’s important not to forget about the downhill: half the climb will be downhill, which is a different set of muscles, and the treadmill doesn’t do a lot for those. Good luck!

Posted by: RMI Team on 11/3/2016 at 12:05 pm

In regards to the practice hikes and if you don’t have access to such trails with hills, would that be something that could be simulated on a treadmill with incline?

Posted by: Ayman Boulos on 11/2/2016 at 10:55 am

RMI Guide Katie Bono Makes Speed Ascent

Katie Bono climbs Mount Rainier in 4 hours, 58 minutes on July 24, 2012.

RMI Guide Katie Bono completed a car-to-car speed ascent of the classic Disappointment Cleaver route. Her effort is significant not only because it sets the female speed record but also because it adds a female presence to a list which had been exclusively male dominated.

Bono described the route, which she climbed 12 times, as straight-forward and direct, minus the rocky section of Disappointment Cleaver itself, where she expressed difficulty keeping “the high-RPM, small steps” she was able to use on the remainder of the route.

The first known speed ascent was made by Lou and Jim Whittaker, with John Day, in 1959 (7 hours, 20 minutes). Craig Van Hoy (5 hours, 25 minutes; 1981), Justin Merle (4:49:35; July 9, 2008), and Liam O’Sullivan (4:46:29; August 5, 2008), all former Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. guides, successfully lowered the record times until September 17, 2008 when renowned guide Willie Benegas completed the round trip in 4:40:59. Benegas’ record currently stands.

Unreal!  You past me around 13,500 feet and I asked for your name so I could read about you someday…well, now I’m doing just that.  Way to go Katie.  You are an inspiration.

Posted by: Nate McClellan on 8/7/2012 at 7:55 am

Katie.  It was an amazing thing to witness as you streaked down the mountain past our group hiking up to Muir. Our whole group was in awe at your accomplishment.  Congratulations!

Posted by: Larry Cornelius on 7/27/2012 at 10:14 am

Mountaineering Training | The Home Stretch

The Home Stretch is exactly what it sounds like: the last bit of your workout, the brief but essential stretching routine that will keep your muscles limber and strong. The routine starts at your toes and stretches to the top of your head and as far as your fingertips can reach.

Starting position: Begin this stretch in the Downward Dog yoga posture: hands and feet flat on the ground, torso arched with rear up in the air, legs straight. If the Downward Dog position is uncomfortable, perform this stretch by leaning forward against a wall or another source of support, such as a tree or building, with arms straight and hands flat against the surface with legs straight and heels on the ground.
Movement: Place your left ankle above and behind the right ankle, just off the ground, so that you can feel an isolated stretch in your right calf. Keep your knee straight so as to isolate the gastrocnemius —one of two major muscles that comprise the calf. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

Starting position: Same as the Upper Calf Stretch — Downward Dog or the variation leaning against a wall.
Movement: Move your left ankle above and behind your right ankle as in the Upper Calf Stretch, with one difference: bend your right knee to isolate the soleus muscle in the lower part of your calf. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

Starting position: Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Rest your head on the ground.
Movement: Raise your right leg, with a slightly bent knee if needed. Grasp the back of your upper leg (hamstrings) with both of your hands and gently pull toward the center of your body until you feel a stretch in the hamstring. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

Starting position: Lie flat on your stomach, chin on the ground and arms at your sides.
Movement: Raise your right ankle by bending your right knee. Grasp it behind your back with your right hand and then gently pull toward the center of your body until you feel a gentle stretch in the quadriceps muscles (the front of the thigh). Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
Variation: If lying down on your stomach is uncomfortable, do this stretch standing up. Hold on to a tree or other support with your free hand, if necessary, as you grasp your ankle and gently pull it toward your body.

Starting position: Sit in a kneeling position with your left leg forward. Your right knee and left foot will be on the ground, with both knees bent at 90-degree angles.
Movement: Imagine that your pelvis is a bowl of water on a table. Now, think of gently tipping the water out of the bowl from the back as you gently press the bottom part of your pelvis forward and the top part of your pelvis slightly back so that you feel a stretch in the muscles that connect the front of your hip to your right leg. That subtle tipping will activate the hip flexor in the front of your right leg. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

Starting position: Stand upright near a tree, wall, or other surface for balance. Cross your right leg over your left leg.
Movement: Extend your left arm to the surface for balance. Bend your body to the left with your right arm extended overhead, as though you’re doing a variation on the Side Bender from the Daily Dozen. Your goal is to feel a deep stretch in your right hip extending down to the outer part of your right leg.
Variation: Try the Pigeon Stretch if you’re particularly flexible. Sit on the ground and bend your left leg so that the heel is near the right hip. Extend the right leg straight behind you.

Starting position: Sit upright with legs bent and heels placed together in front of you.
Movement: Gently press your knees toward the ground to feel a stretch in the adductors (inner thighs). Hold for 20 seconds.

Starting position: Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground.
Movement: Gently move your knees to the left, placing them on the ground, making sure to also keep your shoulders on the ground. You should feel a stretch in your middle and lower back. Extend your arms to either side, and move your head so that you are looking to the right (away from your bent knees). Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

Starting position: Lie on your stomach, palms placed on the ground on either side of your chest, directly below your shoulders.
Movement: Look up toward the sky, gently curving your back while supporting your weight, hands on the ground. This is popularly known as the Cobra pose in yoga. Hold for 20 seconds.

Starting position: Stand upright or sit on your knees with your upper body strong and straight. Lift your left arm above your head and bend the left elbow to stretch the left triceps muscles.
Movement: Place your right hand on your left elbow to support the stretch, gently pressing the elbow back until you feel the muscle stretching. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

Starting position: Stand near a tree or another support. Place your left hand on the support, with your left arm fully extended.
Movement: Without moving your feet, rotate your body to the right until you feel a stretch in your left shoulder and the left side of your chest. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

To finish the Home Stretch, take five full breaths. First, exhale and deeply Squat to the ground, arms downward. Inhale by pushing up on your heels, extending your legs, and reaching your arms to the sky. Take these breaths very slowly and deliberately — you’re bringing relaxation into all areas of your body at the end of your workout, setting the tone for the next stage peacefully and with a great workout behind you.

- 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, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

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

Hi I found this very interesting and informative!  I have found muscles I never knew I had. Glad you have information like this for us beginners otherwise I would still be clueless when I do the climb. Cant wait to get started. Thank you! :)

Posted by: Stacie Wheeler on 8/19/2013 at 12:41 am

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