Training for 14ers

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby spiderman » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:54 pm

Training is great in the long-run, but good planning will likely be far more fruitful in the short-run. If you can break a climb from a day hike into a 1.5 day hike, it will likely become far more feasible. Many of the routes up 14ers have between 4,000 and 6,000 feet of elevation gain. If you can go up 1 or 2 thousand feet the night before your summit day, the hike becomes much more feasible... it is probably the last thousand feet of elevation gain that is blocking you from success right now. The key of this strategy, though, is to have overnight gear that is light enough that you aren't fatigued going up to a campsite. With the right stuff, it only requires 4 to 10 pounds of additional weight for the camping gear in the summer (1-2 lb sleeping bag, <1 lb ground pad, 2-4 lb tent, extra pound of food). Those four things can easily fit into, or be strapped onto a regular day pack if you have chosen correctly.

My son and I had a great time on Harvard last weekend. We hiked in 3.5 miles on Friday night and pitched our tent. The remaining 3,000 feet of gain was more palatable, even though the weather was challenging. If we had attempted to climb the peak from the TH on Saturday, I am sure that the trip would have been beyond Arthur's capabilities.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby NickJ » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:34 am

Great thread. It is interesting reading everyone's take on how to get in shape for climbing. In his book, No Shortcuts to the Top, Ed Viesturs wrote that he regularly ran 5 to 7 miles a day. He also is sort of a smallish guy I think. Maybe 5' 8" and 150 or 160 lbs? I remember he wrote about working with a trainer who had him holding dumbells in each hand and stepping up (and down) on a bench. I tried that. Just made my forearms burn. I agree with people who have commented that body weight is crucial. The more weight you lose, the easier the climbing. For men, putting on muscle mass through heavy lifting, heavy squats, heavy bench pressing, etc., will just make you slower in the mountains. The kind of strength you need to squat heavy weight is of absolutely no use climbing mountains. I think SSC_43 agrees with this? He's a obviously a bigger guy, with quite a bit of muscle mass, and that muscle needs oxygen and needs to be fed. This is not helpful at 13,000 feet. I used to squat like SSC_43 and I was not a fast climber, particulary above tree line. I always got there, but I think I probably exerted significantly more energy than someone with much less weight/muscle. I did discover that I was really good at carrying very heavy packs up inclines at low elevation (LOL). In fact, I think I may have been able to win a race doing that - if any such race had ever existed. :)

Moderate running and lifting, any kind of cardio, it all helps. A good diet. Consistency. But as others have said, the only way to really get in shape for climbing is to climb. No amount of running, stairmaster, eliptical, squatting, etc., will get you in shape for climbing. You have to climb to get in shape for climbing.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby highpilgrim » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:57 am

NickJ wrote:No amount of running, stairmaster, eliptical, squatting, etc., will get you in shape for climbing. You have to climb to get in shape for climbing.

I don't agree.

I live at 600 feet above sea level and my only choices to prepare for climbing are those you mention above. If you do them regularly, they work quite well. I bike primarily, and I bike hard on hills or on a circuit course where I alternate with hard pedaling and the exercise stations of the circuit course. I mix in hiking with a pack and light weight training to keep things interesting.

With just this regimen I have no problem going to altitude and successfully summiting on successive weekend days with no acclimatization.

Like others have said, diet, exercise and a consistent approach to fitness, aimed at cardio but not neglecting strength training will prepare you for the hills just fine.
Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
Hunter S Thompson

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby DaveSwink » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:11 am

NickJ wrote:Ed Viesturs wrote that he regularly ran 5 to 7 miles a day. He also is sort of a smallish guy I think. Maybe 5' 8" and 150 or 160 lbs?

Ed is 5' 10". I got to meet him at a book signing in Boulder about four years ago. He looked lean/fit for his height, so 160 might be right. We can check up on him at his talk in Golden in two days? It would be bizarre if he has packed on a bunch of beer-related poundage. :shock:

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby colokeith » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:22 am

The book "Climbing: Training for Peak Performance" is packed with useful information.
I found it to be interesting, sensible, science based approach to training and nutrition for mountaineers.
It is available at the Douglas County Library
To climb is to push yourself in a way you might not normally imagine is possible. If your stamina, skill, and luck are sound you will get to stand on top. ... I realized that with climbing, I'd found something that nourished my soul and could forge me into a better version myself - Jim Davidson

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby Dark Helmet » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:00 am

how big a difference does weight make?

try this:

last september I hiked ~9mi with my son up to timberline falls in RMNP. I was torched. weight? ~180lbs.

I was in somewhat better shape this year, and down to 165lbs... I was able to do Twin Sisters, Lily Mtn (w/ a ~50lb pack!), and Chasm Lake on consecutive days, and then a week later I did Barr Trail.

NEVER was I as NEARLY as fatigued on any of those hikes as I was upon return to the TH after Timberline in 2011... and that was only 15lbs down (maybe 20 if you consider more-efficient packing).

so? to the OP, drop 50 (much less 100) and you will find astonishing progress in your abilities. again good luck and we are all looking forward to the TRs!


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