Author: Steve House

$59  This plan is ideal for beginner through advanced-intermediate climbers preparing for the winter climbing season. Climbers looking to start leading grade 4 and 5 ice will realize a big boost in confidence that comes with increased ice-climbing-specific strength, especially in the forearms, shoulders, and calves. This is a strength-focused eight week program and assumes that the climber has some basic fitness, including the ability to hang from two ice tools for a minimum of 10 seconds and complete 0-3 unassisted pull-ups on ice tools. You will need a selection of gym equipment, the exact equipment will vary depending on…

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Climbing onsight, meaning leading a pitch or route with no prior knowledge of the details about protection or movements, is de rigueur in alpinism, where you start at the bottom of the mountain and climb to the top and, typically, descend another way. So if you want to climb difficult alpine rock routes, you’d better be good at climbing onsight. Here I provide some onsight climbing tips that will help you hone this essential skill. Adding an intelligently built training plan that includes tools like ARCing, Climbing Marathons, and power and power-endurance training techniques is the best way to progress your onsight climbing…

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#AlpinePrinciples Debriefing a complicated climbing day can be one of the best ways to learn and strengthen your climbing partnerships. This is something I adopted from the guide-training process I went through back in the 1990s. At Alpine Mentors, we debriefed every day of climbing, and all came away with a feeling that this process was the most valuable part of the Alpine Mentors experience—the place where the real learning happened. Here are two tools to help you, first a video and then a printable checklist so you and your partners can conduct your own debriefs. Here is the video,…

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Bouldering 4×4 drills have been around for a long time. But what are they and when should you do them? I first heard about 4x4s one of the first times I ever entered a bouldering gym. It was the mid-1990s in Salt Lake City and I was with Kim Csizmazia and early sport climbing pioneer Chris Grover. I was in town to climb Wasatch ice and all I remember is sweating a lot and falling off most of the crimpy-feeling holds. Not a great start to my relationship with this valuable tool. 4x4s: A Tool for Power-Endurance Bouldering 4×4 drills,…

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In the Alpine Principles video series, one of the most popular videos to date has been “Pay Attention.” It covers a lot of important topics in a short time: speed, efficiency, random chances, situational awareness, partner communications, staying attached, and the risks of “easy” climbing. I’d like to take the opportunity here to flesh these out and dive deeper into the meaning of each concept. But first, the video: Speed and Efficiency Speed and efficiency are terms that are thrown around a lot in climbing. And it’s amazing how much variation there is in what people consider “fast.” Let’s look…

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The first video in the Alpine Principles video series is titled “Perfect Preparation.” That this title is first about making judgments in alpine climbing, mountaineering, ski mountaineering, and mountain running is neither an accident nor a coincidence. In fact, a major subprinciple of this concept, which Uphill Athlete is dedicated to, is physical preparation. Since we have that pretty well covered I will dive into ideas of motivation, partners, patience, covering your bases, and knowing what you don’t know. Understand Your Motivations Understand why you’re there, why you want to go there. This is the first step and one of…

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Denali climbing season is here! While over 1,200 climbers attempt the highest point in North America each season, the success rate on Denali hovers around 50 percent. Denali is a very unique mountain. Climbers are faced with a combination of massive glaciers, continuous winter conditions, and frequent storms that can be both windy and produce a meter or more of snow in a day. They must haul sleds to transport the bulky food and clothing and equipment needed in such a harsh environment, and it is common to use the generally accepted double-carry method to get in position for a…

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A successful high-altitude expedition is dependent on many factors. Fitness is the one factor completely under your control, and we have a number of athletes heading to the Himalaya in the next couple of weeks. As climbers start their journeys, we want to share 14 key tips and recommendations for traveling to, acclimating for, and climbing in the big mountains. The Travel 1. You are as fit as you are going to be right now. Running (or hiking) in Kathmandu/Delhi/Islamabad is more dangerous than it is worth. What we advise is for you to relax during the travel. Pay close…

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This article from Uphill Athlete high-performance dietician Rebecca Dent provides nutrition tips for expeditions that involve ascent to altitude. It includes practical guidance and considerations to help you plan for your trip. Weight Loss on a High-Altitude Expedition When you ascend to altitude, diminished appetite (known as hypoxic-induced anorexia) is experienced the higher you go, with some reporting the effects around 3,000–4,000 meters. It is almost certain to occur above 5,000 meters. Between this lack of appetite, which leads to a reduction in food intake, and increases in metabolic rate and daily physical exertion, weight loss is often experienced. Most…

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Alpinist Vince Anderson explains his thought process for locating and building a belay while ice climbing. The process is much the same when determining where to belay on a multipitch alpine route. Among the factors he considers are how protected the stance is, how comfortable it is, and how solid the ice is for building an anchor. Once Vince decides where he want to set up his belay, he immediately gets himself secured: he gets his first ice screw in, which involves pinpointing a prime placement and choosing an appropriate-length screw. Watch the following for his full explanation and demonstration.…

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