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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
Jan 31, 2013
Me scaring years off my mom's life
I've got some alpine goals this summer and I'm training for them now. In addition to climbing in the gym (too much snow outside to get out) I'm running 25 miles a week and doing Crossfit. Once spring starts to come, what's the best way to get into strong alpine shape? Should I focus on distance running? Running hills? Hiking\jogging with a heavy pack?

Most of my goals are pretty easily technically but pretty grueling (like the Grand Traverse in the Tetons) and I've never really done any specific alpine training. What do y'all do?

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By jeeter
Jan 31, 2013
I gargle rocks and crawl through gravel when it is cold- sorry could not resist.

Personally I have been thinking about weight vests doing pull-ups/push ups and climbing at the (home) gym to simulate what it might be like to do 5.10+ with a pack. I can only imagine the looks you would get going to the local climbing gym with a weight vest - you would most certainly draw attention as a freak show or a terrorist.

I know friends that used to hike steep trails with a backpack full of water - pour it all out at the top so they did not wreck their knees on the way down. No reason to let snow slow you down...get out there and git some!

Ultimately you better develop that warrior mentality - while you are suffering keep repeating the following two phrases "pain is weakness leaving the body" and "cry in the dojo-laugh on the battlefield"

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By Simon L
From Hartford, CT
Jan 31, 2013
I just got back from 2 weeks in Argentina in the Andes climbing at 10000+ feet. We trained by doing a lot of laps at the gym on lower grades and also climbing at the gym with a climbing pack on. More focus on strength and stamina than on getting good at 5.11 in the gym. Cardio we did a lot of running. One thing I wish I had done more of was hiking or running up hills with a pack to build better leg strength - the approaches in Argentina up scree slopes at altitude with packs on were often the crux of the climb!

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By cjdrover
From Somerville, MA
Jan 31, 2013
Taken at MWV Icefest 2014.
Check out Mark Twight's book. He covers this is in detail.

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Jan 31, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on
just an aside: learn to embrace and love snow, not avoid it. That will probably help.

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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Jan 31, 2013
El Chorro
jeeter wrote:
Personally I have been thinking about weight vests doing pull-ups/push ups and climbing at the (home) gym to simulate what it might be like to do 5.10+ with a pack. I can only imagine the looks you would get going to the local climbing gym with a weight vest - you would most certainly draw attention as a freak show or a terrorist.


I see people with weight vests at my climbing gym all the time. And the best never stop to think about what other people might say. Who cares if people think you're a terrorist?

I never do anything special from a climbing point of view. Just stick with a reasonably varied routine. Have a goal for each day - power or endurance or power-endurance, etc.

For approaches and general fitness, I have had great results with tempo runs and speed work. Do a hard mile and then walk 200m, repeat 5-10 times. You can shorten the distances all you want but the goal is to keep your heart rate as high as possible for as long as possible. The breaks are just so you catch your breath.

You can also run while breathing through a straw. Other than that I think the best way to get in shape for the mountains is to get into the mountains. If it's too snowy to climb, go on a winter back packing trip. A weekend worth of winter gear and food makes for a heavyish pack and I'm sure there are plenty of places for you o choose from.

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By Kevin Landolt
From Fort Collins, Wyoming
Jan 31, 2013
A couple favorites...

There's a backcountry crag called Greyrock above the town I live in. The approach is a couple miles of steep technical trail that typically takes an hour or so to hike. My favorite alpine training involved trail-running to the base of the crag and then soloing a really good circuit of moderate (5.6 - 5.9) 3-4 pitch routes. I always time myself and know all my best times and where I should be if I'm really fit. It's a great way to gauge your alpine fitness, and most importantly it is fun.

A less fun, though really effective exercise is as follows. Fill three to four gallon jugs with water at the base of steep hike. Power hike / run uphill until you've reached the top of the mountain or whatever - dump the jugs and run back down to the river and refill the jugs and repeat until you vomit.

Scrambling: Find a good long hike/scramble and start working on your times. Nothing beats moving fast over 3rd/4th class terrain. I guess this is what people are calling "mountain running". It is a pretty cool thing to run up and down a peak (that most folks take all day to hike) after work in a couple hours.

Link-ups and "as many pitches as possible" days at the crag. Again, fun and effective - plus it trains the technical aspect of things when you get your systems dialed and begin experimenting with simul climbing, short fixing, using natural belays instead of anchors on easy terrain, realizing you don't have to stop at every belay your partner builds (just climb past if you have enough gear), etc...

If you have the time I think these forms of training far exceed the gym / crossfit experiance. Quick circuit workouts are great, but I've seen too many people fall into the Crossfit cult - like mindset of training for the sake of training. Just my opinion though!

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By Nick Venechuk
From Golden, CO
Jan 31, 2013
+1 on Mark Twight's book, Extreme Alpinism. If anyone knows how to train for the alpine it's him. There's a lot of good info in there about moving fast and light as well, which is going to make the difference on long days like the Grand Traverse. Obviously fitness plays a role there so everything goes hand in hand.

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By seth0687
From Fort Collins
Jan 31, 2013
Leading the first ice pitch of the NW Gully-Thatchtop
My goal for post knee injury alpine fitness is crossfit three times per week then purposely load pack to 40lbs and do long approach hike as fast as possible HIIT style to base of climb then do as many laps as possible once or twice per week. If the crossfit routine is more strength focused ill do a light long run same day.

My current schedule starting this past Sunday:


Sunday-10k run
Monday-crossfit
Tuesday-hidden falls ice
Wednesday-rest
Thursday-crossfit
Friday-rest/10k easy run
Saturday-crossfit
Sunday-black lake slabs (hopefully)

I guess we will find out if it works cuz god knows Kevin Landolt knows first hand how slow I was before I rehabbed my knee...

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By rging
From Salt Lake City, Ut
Jan 31, 2013
CoR
Make sure you have an occasional workout (like a big hike up a big mountain) that lasts over four hours (the longer the better). You want your body to switch from burning food to burning itself which is exactly what happens when you do a long alpine route.

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By Cory
From Boise, ID
Jan 31, 2013
Relaxing in the Tuttle Creek Campground after a fun day in the Hills
If time or weather are keeping you indoors, don't forget the stair master! Throw some weights in a backpack (and even on your ankles too to simulate heavy boots and 'pons). Set a goal time and goal speed on the SM. Once you can maintain the goal speed for the goal time, add more weight to your pack. Ideally you'll be upping the weight every 1 or two sessions. This will quickly turn you into an uphill beast! Just think how light that 20# or 30# pack will feel on your back when you're used to chugging up the SM with 80#! I like to occasionally sneak in a session with no weight and try to maintain an uphill run on the stairs. Of course this is nowhere near as fun as getting outside and trail-running or hiking with a pack, but it gets the job done.

Don't forget to fit as much actual climbing into your training as you can too. That said, if you're going for big routes car to car, you don't stand a chance if you're gassed before you even get to the route. I can usually tell by halfway through the approach if we are going to succeed or not on a route that is big for us, and I've been shut down by approaches way more than by technical difficulties on a route.

For everything else Alpine, see Mark Twight's book, Extreme Alpinism.

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By scott cooney
From La Casa Taco
Jan 31, 2013
11th hour of the Sundial
you're in SLC so once things dry out in a couple months..... do regular training climbs on things like london spire for training runs

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By Mike Belu
From Indianapolis, IN
Jan 31, 2013
Summit of Rainier.
I'm older and live in flat-ass Indiana, so you may have to take my comments with a grain of salt. Maybe it will help, maybe not. I do mountaineering/climbing trips when I can. I have a weight vest, but for leg strength training, I put the vest in the pack I'm going to use on the trip. You want to get used to the pack, the straps and waistbelt. Hike at least once a week for at least a few hours with more weight than you will be carrying on the trip. Again, getting used to the pack, and spending hours with the pack on. For me, the weight in the pack over a long time works muscles like the hip flexors that you might not get otherwise. I have to go up and down the same hill many times, but you can probably get the long vertical gain where you are at. Also, long trail runs. Get your calf muscles tired. Do calf raises at the end of a workout. Hiking/climbing up a steady incline for a long time hits your calf muscles big time. You don't want to catch a calf cramp on a long ascent. Other than that, climbing, and keep your core strong. That is my 2 cents.

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By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Jan 31, 2013
downclimb off the First Flatiron <br />photo by TooTallTim
  • hilly trail runs (I combine this with soloing)
  • climbing/scrambling/hiking with a pack
  • scrambling/soloing longer routes/link-ups for endurance and routefinding (routefinding skills and the ability to solo easier sections will have a dramatic impact on your alpine speed, as will the ability to move quickly over talus)
  • acclimatization as you get closer to your goal date(s) (shouldn't be a problem for you in SLC)

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By KevinCO
From Loveland, CO
Jan 31, 2013
What fossana said.

Also, this book:

books.google.com/books?id=DHYS...

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By coppolillo
Jan 31, 2013
dude, you're in SLC! gymjones.com

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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 3, 2013
I would skip on the Crossfit and focus on more sport-specific activities. The Grand Traverse is a lot of hiking so your training should be the same. Mt. Olympus is the best bang-for-your-buck in terms of access, vert and scrambling. The west face of Grandeur Peak is also a great sufferfest. Don't let snow deter you because you will encounter it in the Tetons.
How did Half Dome go?

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By Portwood
From Your moms house last night
Feb 4, 2013
Me
I climb alot in the mountains and what has helped me is:

- Genral climbing training. Train your weakness and what ever climbing specfic training goals you have, trying to climb a goal like 3000' in the gym during a session, volumes of moderate climbing.

- And the stair master. This helps alot for aproaches and boosts my cardio. Add weight if you like, like 35 pounds or so. And do interval training once a week.

- Also I practice my systems. If the roue will take short fixing or simuclimbing I will practice that at a local crag etc.

good luck on you goal!

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By tenesmus
Feb 28, 2013
Or, Austin, you could walk the 500 yards from your house to mine and join us for a few ski tours. Like Brendan says, you gotta spend time on snow and in the mountains to get ready for the mountains. You live 10 minutes from Little Cottonwood for crying out in the night!

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By Camp
From Santa Fe, NM
Mar 4, 2013
check into Mountain Athlete

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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
Mar 4, 2013
The route in it's entirety.
tenesmus wrote:
Or, Austin, you could walk the 500 yards from your house to mine and join us for a few ski tours. Like Brendan says, you gotta spend time on snow and in the mountains to get ready for the mountains. You live 10 minutes from Little Cottonwood for crying out in the night!


Haha well put Tenny. Spring is upon us here in SLC, and we're going to be able to go bigger and better in the mountains in no time. So go up into the hills as much as you possibly can! Zion is also in season now so go down there, and do some of the bigger alpine routes.

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By John Ryan
From Poncha Springs, CO
Mar 7, 2013
No Name Crack, 5.10, Supercrack Buttress, Indian Creek, Utah
My recent alpine adventures have taught me the need for hiking with a heavy pack uphill as a training measure. The long approaches along with the typically constant uphill aspect really require a lot of leg strength and endurance. Running isn't really going to help you in my opinion except for the obvious cardio benefits. I ran and biked but this conditioning did not have my legs ready for the mountains. Tons of squats or loaded uphill hikes are my advice. And of course training at elevation is always great but many of us do not have this luxury.

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By Peteoria
Mar 7, 2013
Ryan Williams wrote:
Who cares if people think you're a terrorist?


umm, the fact that Obama signed the NDAA last year that permits them to imprison anyone they want, without trial, without delivering any sort of evidence, and for any amount of time, including for the rest of your life. Then there's the fact that climbers don't exactly embrace the yuppy western lifestyle and we would be contributing to the man's wealth & world control much more effectively if imprisoned (we spend $800k per year per prisoner at Guantonomo).

I don't think a climbing vest will do much until you wear it through airport security, but just sayin that some people do care about living in a (no longer) free country

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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Mar 9, 2013
Imaginate
Peteoria wrote:
umm, the fact that Obama signed the NDAA last year that permits them to imprison anyone they want, without trial, without delivering any sort of evidence, and for any amount of time, including for the rest of your life. Then there's the fact that climbers don't exactly embrace the yuppy western lifestyle and we would be contributing to the man's wealth & world control much more effectively if imprisoned (we spend $800k per year per prisoner at Guantonomo). I don't think a climbing vest will do much until you wear it through airport security, but just sayin that some people do care about living in a (no longer) free country


+1. And no, I'm not a crazy nut. The patriot act was terrible. So is the NDA act. Look it up.

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