How to train for Mt Kenya / Batian via Nelion?

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  • #70976
    Jan Verweyen

    Hi guys,

    Two weeks ago I have summited the Matterhorn after using the 16w training plan plus one climbing session most weeks. I felt well prepared and the trip was not too taxing thx to the excellent prep with the UA tool kit: much appreciated and happy to recommend it! Also the gains in fitness during this first structured training cycle of mine were quite impressive to me, especially as I replaced all running with hiking, after a previous attempt ended with a repeated stress fracture in my ankle.

    The next goal is likely Mt Kenya, a c5,200m peak with: a few days of approach hiking, starting at ~3,000m and a full day of moderate rock climbing ~20 pitches/ 400m, grades up to ~5.5) on the summit day. Goal is to mostly pre-acclimatize in a hypoxi-tend and complete the accent via Mac Kinder Route, eg Nelion / Gate of Mists to Batian in ~5 days in Feb23.

    What is the best way to train and prepare for this objective? Is it enough to repeat the 16w Training Plan plus some climbing sessions as i habe done before or should I approach this differently?

    since returning from Matterhorn I just completed 2 weeks of rest days with a few recovery workouts sprinkled in. Now feeling ready to dive back into structured training again soon.

    I am 40 years old, always been exercising and consider myself quite fit, since years we have a family (3 small children) and fascinating jobs – completing the 16w training plan was no small thing -and possible with great support from my wife.

    We live 50km from Frankfurt / Germany with limited vert easily accessible near by (some 300m hills, no real tall buildings). During upcoming fall and winter I might not be able to do as many trips to the alps for rock climbing and mountaineering as I was able to do this spring and summer as part of my Matterhorn preparation. At the same time I recognize the challenge of rock climbing at ~5,000m altitude with a heavier pack might well be significantly harder.

    Any ideas / thoughts on how to prepare for Mt Kenya are welcome!

    Best, Jan

Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Participant
    Dada on #71005


    In my experience, the higher I get, the lower my HR goes. So, I would mainly concentrate on Z1/2 speeds. The climbing should be not so technical, right? That should be doable with climbing gym training. No clue if climbing with a weight vest or a backpack makes sense in general. Happy to hear about that from others.

    I would concentrate on creating endurance by using a graded treadmill (if possible for you), cycling or ski rollers and adding gym ME for steepness.

    Try to maintain your existing ME level from summer and spring with a maintenance gym ME workout.

    Let us know what you did.


    Jan Verweyen on #71070

    Thx Dada!

    Pls allow a few follow up Qs:
    – you mean repeat the 16w training plan plus climbing gym or use a different training approach?
    – I don’t have experience at above 4,800m (Mt Blanc), climbing Mt Kenya shld not be very technical
    – do you prefer a graded treadmill over a stepper?
    – in last Training cycle i did first half of ME Workouts on a nearby hill w about 60-70% incline and 100m of vert (thereafter I had access to higher mountains) / wld you prefer a gym based ME workout instead or just as alternative in case conditions don’t allow outdoors?

    Looking forward to hear your views.


    Dada on #71158

    Hi Jan,

    I’m honest, I don’t know the UA off the shelf training plans. If they worked for your, go for it. Not sure when the plan adds ME though. I can imagine that it comes in later, so I would add gym ME for maintenance.

    I mean stairmaster is for steeper climbs, treadmill is for lower grades. A crosstrainer is less specific I would say.

    I terms of time efficiency, I’m a big fan of the gym ME but outdoor ME is kinda specific.


    maiermw on #71210

    I claim no expertise in adjusting plans, but I think I’ve seen similar questions to this answered here before. The overall question is what plan(s) to use when you have an objective that is big (requires good fitness) and is technical, but not very technical. The thought process runs something like this:
    How does the technical difficulty compare to what you can do “off the couch?” If you can climb 5.10 off the couch, your objective is 5.5, so you really wouldn’t need to train climbing, just mountaineering fitness. If you are also hiring a guide then rest of the technical issues are taken care of. Just do the 16 week plan to the best of your ability and have fun.

    If 5.5 off the couch is not so easy, or you are doing this unguided with a partner, then getting in the technical time in the train up is important. You might want to do the Alpine Climbing plans instead. Or you might want to stack an 8 week rock climbing plan on top of the 16 week plan (I’ve seen that mentioned here before). Or you might want to adjust the plan so you have a period of intensive climbing in a relevant environment (the “graduation road trip” in the “Training for the New Alpinism” book). If you were close to the mountains you might adjust the plan so instead of doing a 4 hour run you are doing an all day climb with your partner that includes at least 4 hours in zone 1-2, preferably on scrambly rock terrain. If that isn’t possible, because you are in the wrong place or no way you can devote that much time, maybe that’s a signal the planned approach to the objective isn’t the best. People who do big routes that are also technically challenging (challenging for them, whatever the grade) and do them self-supported put a lot of time into preparation, no two ways about it.

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