Female athletes training for Denali loads

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  • #42164

    How would you train a female athlete to carry 130+ pound Denali loads? I am a 130 pound female with a small frame who has carried 100 pounds on my back for 1-2 miles, and it was so intense that I thought it would break me physically. Women smaller than I are climbing Denali, but I can’t understand how. What am I missing?

  • Participant
    DominicProvost on #42183

    Part of the weight you carry is on a sled that you drag.

    Anonymous on #42195

    Hi Samantha,
    What have you been doing for strength right now? If you haven’t done a max strength phase, I would add that in (assuming you’ve done some general strength so your tendons would be ready for it). Increasing your overall top end strength before doing muscular endurance type work will give you faster gains.

    Anonymous on #42198


    Thanks for writing in with this question. You are not alone among women in expressing this concern. While Deanli is a bigger challenge for smaller women, I can assure you that we have helped prepare quite a few smaller women succeed on Denali. Even a couple under 100lbs.

    Also important as mentioned above; you will not be required to carry 100lbs on your back. I don’t know many guys who can carry 100lbs for 2 miles and not feel like they are doing themselves damage.

    As Alison mentions, what you’ve been doing for strength training will play a big role on your comfort and success on Denali. We advocate, in our books, on this site and in the training plans we sell and coaching we offer, a gradual build up in strength. Starting with 100lbs or even 50lbs on your back and training with it is not a wise choice. You need months of well structured training to prepare for the very specific sort of work like carrying a crazy heavy pack while dragging a sled up a glacier. This process starts with developing adequate strength in the early months and then in the final stages adding on a muscular endurance phase.

    There’s a lot of info on this site and in our books to help guide your training. You might also consider using our 24 week expeditionary plan. It has been used by hundreds of Denali climbers and is included in the trip price by several of the guide services operating on Denali.It works.


    samantha.j.a on #42199

    Thank you, Scott and Alison. I can definitely see that I would need to be trained for Denali using a program like the 24 week expeditionary plan. Carrying and dragging such heavy loads remains one of the biggest concerns I have–you can learn the skills and gain the experience, but the body will always have some limitations. But I hear you and believe that its possible under the right training plan, so you will see me again when the opportunity arises to climb Denali!

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