Building a 16-week plan for Mt. Rainier (DC route)

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  • #63716

    I’ve been reading through Training for the New Alpinism, and love the book. I’m currently trying to use the principles laid out in the book to build my own 16-week training plan for a climb of the DC route on Rainier planned for late June.

    Where I’m currently struggling to get started is in figuring out how to adapt the periods (Transition, Base, Specific) described in the book, which seem to coincide more with a 24-30+ week program, to a shorter 16-week program.

    It seems like 16 weeks should be enough time to get adequately prepared, given a pretty good level of fitness at the start, but is that truly the case? If it is adequate, then how might the principles from the book be applied to a slightly more condensed program?

    To give some indication of my current fitness level, I typically get in around 4-6 hours of activity/week, most of which is road and trail running, but typically with a few full-body workout sessions/week as well. I am able to run 10+ miles comfortably at a sub 9-minute pace.

    Strength training is definitely where I feel like I have the biggest gains to make. While I’m not able to climb big mountains regularly, living on the east coast, I did do a climb on the north face of Mt. Shasta back in 2019. My training for that included lots of time hiking with a 35-45lbs pack up in the N. Georgia mountains, and running stairs when I couldn’t get up to the mountains, but was not so great in regards to strength training. While I did summit successfully, and felt confident that I could continue walking uphill all day, I definitely felt slow, and as we got closer to the summit and the altitude really started to take it’s toll, I felt particularly sluggish.

    Thanks in advance for the help!

Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Participant
    Shashi on #63748

    You can do a four-week Transition and then split the rest of the time between Base and Muscular Endurance periods.

    justin.holzer on #63759

    Thanks Shashi!

    ccaissie on #64717

    Just starting the Uphill Athlete membership here, planning a Mt. Rainier DC climb in Mid May.

    I’m 68, in good health but not an athlete. Just recently did a 4 day campout in Baxter State Park, skiing in with Sleds. Katahdin had too much avalance danger, so ice climbing was out.

    Surprised to learn that low intensity endurance training is what’s critical. I have much younger friends (early 30’s) who are much stronger than I, but at the end of 8 hour uphill events, they are wasted, and I’m the one building the camp and getting supper on.

    Mostly concerned that I can keep going aerobically, and want to ensure my Mountaineering skills are adequate. In May, critical points are being weather-ready, and crevasse rescue and self arrest ready. Our team is planning a Ice/Snow technique training trip up Mt. Washington once the wind chill temps moderate to above zero.

    I’m revising my general strength training to go more towards endurance aerobic training which is a new idea to me.

    So Justin, we can talk and share ideas. I’d say you are probably far more fit than I. In 16 weeks you should be ready to RUN up the mountain….

    You must already have the National Park manual on the DC? Do you have “Freedom of the Hills”?

    justin.holzer on #64769

    I’ve been using a program called “Fit to Climb”, which was developed by John Colver (a fromer RMI guide and experienced climber), as the primary basis for my own 16-week training program. It follows the same principles laid out in Training for the New Alpinism. I think it’s a good mix of strength training (including a short, daily, strength routine) and aerobic base building. The program also utilizes the periodization principles that are mentioned in TftNA. Anyways, you can find the book on Amazon, and I recommend it if you’re climbing Rainier.

    I climbed Mt. Shasta a few years back, and kinda/sorta followed this type of training program. I focused a lot (too much) on hiking with a loaded (30-50lbs) pack over hilly terrain. I got really good at walking uphill with a pack all day, but was pretty slow at it. I didn’t have a great focus on strength training, and I didn’t really ease in to adding weight to my pack (both things I’m doing differently this time around). I also cut a few corners on other parts of my training program. Ultimately, I did make it to the summit, but I came very close to not making it. The climb was definitely harder than it should have been, and that was due mostly to my training.

    Turns out these folks that have climbed a lot of mountains actually know what they’re talking about! Go figure!

    Wish you all the best on your climbing adventures

    ccaissie on #67599

    Discovered the rhythm of pressure breathing and the rest step and it makes a world of difference. Staying at low intensity, I was able to chug to Muir, with the feeling that I could go, go Go much further. Slowly. Weather has been so extreme, Guide services have put nobody on the summit this year, as of May 16. We had planned to go to Ingraham flats for overnight but conditions were ugly, so a day trip….

    Building the Aerobic base is key. My two partners, 35 years younger than me lurched ahead and then blew up…probably lactate poisoning. I got there about 5 minutes after they did, and was ready for more…they were “dead”.

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