I wanted to chime in with my post-season report as well, as I’ve seen more athlete stories posted recently. It’s wild how many themes and experiences I share with the other reports, particularly with Dane and his recent report on climbing Rainier.
I’m your typical office worker and weekend-warrior. I started looking for training resources after a July 2018 climb and splitboard descent of Pahto (Mt. Adams). I made it up and down safely but really wasn’t confident in my conditioning and fatigue really limited my enjoyment of the ride down too. I dream about ripping 4000’ lines like the Southwest Chutes and wanted to come back with fitness and confidence (and better snow, we went a bit late in the season in 2018). So that led me to Training for the New Alpinism and Uphill Athlete and I set my goals for 2019: a 4 day hut trip/avalanche class, return to climb and ride the SW Chutes, and splitboard Mt. Shasta, my first 14er!
I’m happy to report I cleared all of my goals, with a slight deviation where I left the snowboard in the car for Mt. Shasta. We initially planned on a big group for Shasta but it dwindled down to two of us and my buddy isn’t a skier!
I used the 24-week expeditionary mountaineering plan (plus extending the base period to 15 weeks) and Training for the New Alpinism to guide my training along with all of the great advice on the forums and the frankly incredible responsiveness of Scott J. and Scott S. about any questions, no matter how many times they’ve answered the same question before. Like Dane, I found the experience was about so much more than the end goal. I also felt somewhere along the lines that I was “ready.” Not just hoping or wondering if I was going to have the fitness to reach my goals, but knowing that I had put the work in to make it happen. Even to the point where I asked myself about setting a “harder” goal, questioning if I dreamed big enough. I stuck with my plan though and also like Dane, I wouldn’t say it was “easy” but I never struggled with my fitness.
For me, this season was also a question of whether the process is worth it. I remember early on thinking that there’s any number of reasons why I might not get to climb Mt. Shasta: bad weather, injury or even just illness or a twisted ankle at the wrong time, a family emergency, or just something unexpected. I had to ask if restructuring my recreation time, cutting time playing soccer, and giving up entire weekends to train and recover would be worth it even if I didn’t get to attempt my goal climbs. I told people who asked me how my training was going or why I’d spend so much time on it, that one kind of has to believe in and love the process. Otherwise, for me, there’s no way I would have stuck with it. It would have been too easy to rationalize that I was in “good enough” shape for my modest goals or that it wasn’t worth sacrificing the “fun” stuff. Fortunately, I did enjoy the process of training and the confidence that came with it, far beyond just the knowledge that I’d make it up to the top of a local 14er.
I tagged the summit of Wy’east (Mt. Hood) which had been on my bucket list but I wasn’t expecting to attempt this year. Confidence in my fitness led to confidence in navigating the short technical part of the climb. During my unstructured period, I went backpacking in the Wallowas, and while my friends were fatigued from a day’s hike with a pack, I was actually able to wake up recovered and go for a solo trail run to experience more of the mountains that we drove so far to get to. Finally, like Dane, things that sounded so far out there or unattainable come into sharper focus and suddenly become possible. A 100 mile race? Why not? I’ve already signed up for a 32k trail race that I never would have considered before.
Things that I’m struggling with right now: I do have a bit of post-climb blues, without clearly defined goals for next year. I’m in a place where my technical knowledge/ability is a limiting factor for my bigger alpine climbing/snowboarding dreams, but I also want to continue building my fitness. It’s almost a more money, more problems issue; now that fitness is not the limiting factor, one starts to think, do I want to train for climbing and snowboarding mountains, or that 50 or 100 mile race? And how can I add in all the extra hours of time it would take to practice and master climbing and safety skills that I don’t have right now? I also think about injury a lot more now – niggles in my knee or my foot or even just playing soccer are suddenly a bit more stressful knowing that it’s consistency in training week over week, month over month, year over year that is so important.
But I’m super happy with the knowledge and appreciate all of the information the Uphill Athlete team works so hard to share with us. I’m spending the next few weeks thinking about my dreams and goals and how I want to best spend my hours training. Now it will be from a place of confidence in the process of structured training to help me get to whatever I dream up.
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