Fit To Climb

How to Get the Most out of Your Next Summit
by Steve House

The following article was written by Steve House (IFMGA-Certified Mountain Guide, Uphill Athlete co-founder, coach) for those considering an Adventure Consultants trip to help understand the importance of training for our trips, and training the correct way.

During the years prior to my professional climbing career I worked as a mountain guide and was privileged to lead climbs all over the world. The one thing that stood out, consistently separating the successful from the disappointed guests, was physical preparation.

People that come into a climbing trip, whether it be a Seven Summits Expedition or a Himalayan Trek, with a high degree of physical work capacity can handle the daily physical demands that come from back to back multi-hour days of travel in mountainous terrain. In my experience, the best way to approach training is to bring an intellectual framework to your climbing or trekking goals, and then use that framework to apply established principles to your problems, and create tangible plans to overcome them. Going from nearly-sedentary, to successive days of climbing, is a recipe for disappointment. But what does that all mean?

The professionally-built training plans and coaching options that Scott Johnston and I have created adhere to a structured and systematic application of carefully calculated training amounts, types, and durations of exercise aimed towards achieving a performance result or goal (i.e. the summit of Everest). These contrast with a “do-it-yourself” and/or hire a personal trainer approach, which typically result in (random) exercise and general health. While that may be fun, it does not take into consideration a proper analysis, understanding, and build up to a specific goal.

For example, in order to reach the summit of Everest, you need basic, supportive, non-mountaineering-specific fitness. Our training protocols allow you to build up to true mountain fitness and will put you on your way to the summit. We show you how to train like an athlete so you can reach your highest potential. There is a reason people don’t train for Everest by climbing Everest. Our approach works. Everyone we have coached (who stuck with their training) has had a much higher success rate than average. Of the first 14 climbers we coached for Everest, 100% of them reached the summit.

Topping out on Island Peak. Photo Suze Kelly

Both a good training plan and a good coach will utilize the following important principles:

  • Continuity: Your training needs to be consistent. This means regular and systematically planned workouts. Overdoing it on the weekend, and then doing nothing for five days will not prepare you.
  • Gradualness: As you become fitter with regular training the training load needs to gradually increase to give you the needed stimulus to keep increasing your fitness.
  • Modulation: Hard days and weeks need to be followed by easy ones to allow your body time to adapt to the new stress being placed on it.

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Cross training helps. Photo: Charley Mace
So you think you're fit? Try sled hauling at Vinson Massif. Photo: Lydia Bradey

We understand your goal, know what it takes to achieve it and are experts in preparing a plan so you can reach it.

Uphill Athlete offers both established training plans (prices range from $39 to $99) and custom coaching options (prices range from $289 to $499) to help prepare you for your planned trip, whether it be an alpine adventure in New Zealand, a trek in Africa, or an expedition up Everest. No matter how you choose to prepare for your trek or climb, remember that it is time well spent. Not only is it great for your health, but you’ll get more out of your experience with Adventure Consultants, and the mountains.

Curious and want to learn more? Check out our Training Programs Page

Trekking near Tashinga in the Everest Region. Photo: Rene Schwaller

The cover image:
Jo Williams training high on Mt Roy overlooking Lake Wanaka, New Zealand