Learning from failure

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  • #44476
    NandaDevi
    Participant

    I used the 24 week training plan from early this year. My objective was to climb the Emmons route on Mt. Rainier in July. I have been on this route before in 2017, turning around at 12,500’ after burning out aerobically. I figured building a good aerobic base would help and, given the higher pack weight on this side of the mountain, the 24 week plan seemed a good choice. I was not disappointed by the results of training. It was clear that my AeT went up by 10-12 beats (from about 142 bpm to 154 bpm) and I felt strong. Unfortunately Covid led to a change in route and I was to use the same guiding company but on the DC route via Camp Muir. Two weeks before the planned climb, I spent a few days in the Sierra hiking with my family – nothing that seemed too stressful. I then drove up from California for the climb.
    Unfortunately, it was a very hot day on the snowfield getting to Camp Muir and I felt very drained and dehydrated getting there. I also felt under pressure from the guides to pick up my pace under the conditions. I would have liked to keep my HR below AeT, but my average HR ended up at 166 bpm (with a max at 185 bpm)! I still ended up taking 40 minutes longer than the rest of the clients (and about the same time longer than myself when I went up in May 2018 with a pack). The next day I went up to Ingraham Flats at 11,200’ but decided I felt too tired to continue on to the summit with having to return the same day. It was the right decision of course, but I felt quite disappointed having trained for this event and after starting out feeling confident.
    I’m trying to understand what went wrong. It’s possible that I overtrained, and having then driven all the way was tired to begin with. It’s also possible that the first day conditions killed my effort. I also think that these quick-out-of-the-blocks 3 day climbs don’t go so well for me. I used the 16 week plan successfully last year to summit a 6,328 m peak (non-technical glacier climb) in the Himalaya. However, I trekked for 18 days before getting to high camp. When I failed on the Emmons route in 2017, I had been on the mountain for 6 days as part of a mountaineering course (6 hard days to be sure), but perhaps I was a little more used to the altitude.
    I want to learn from this for the future, and would appreciate any feedback!

  • Keymaster
    Shashi on #44558

    Sorry to hear about your experience on Mt. Rainier.

    You already identified a few things that might have impacted the climb. By no means, I am qualified to tell you what went wrong, but here are few questions/observations –

    a. Over Training: If you followed the 24-week plan, your training would have Taper weeks to make sure you are well-rested for the event. Why do you think you over-trained? Is it the volume? Intensity?

    This article provides good tips and recommendations on planning (especially tapering) for an event.

    b. Rest day before climb: I am assuming you had a 10-12 hour drive to get to Mt. Rainier National Park/Seattle. Did you start your climb the next day? It varies by individual, but I would have preferred to have a rest day before climbing.

    c. Hydration/Nurtition: You mentioned you felt dehydrated and drained on your hike to Camp Muir. Did you hydrate and eat well before the hike? and on your hike?

    Rebecca Dent’s article on Hydration Tips and Nutrition might be helpful.

    d. Pace: As you said, your pace and intensity was much higher just getting to Camp Muir and this hurt your chances of summiting the next day. Not sure what you could have done differently – other than having an open conversation with the guide about how your desired pace. For future trips, you might consider doing a private guided trip or climbing with friends where you can control the pace.

    Here is an article that provides some great tips on a successful expedition.

    Hope this is helpful. Coaches might be able to provide better insight.

    Just curious – what was the peak you climbed in the Himalaya?

    Participant
    NandaDevi on #44626

    Shashi, thanks for the post.
    a. I followed the plan pretty consistently – the only thing that was a bit concerning may be that it got pretty hot in the last few weeks of training where I live, and I remember feeling more tired from the workouts. Otherwise, it’s more of a post-event rationalization.
    b. I did the drive over a day and a half and had a rest day, but had to get up early in the morning to drive up to Rainier. Usually the guiding company provides transport, but that option was removed because of COVID.
    c. Yes, usual breakfast early morning, and 2L of water with tailwind plus a few bagels with cheese, which should have been enough but clearly wasn’t given the heat.
    d. Unfortunately, guiding companies on Rainier are not super flexible. Private guided trips are not offered on Mt. Rainier to my knowledge. This is because 3 companies are allowed to run multiple trips and a few other companies are allowed to guide one trip/year by the National Park Service, and they all seem to want to take multiple clients. It’s easy to get private trips on Shasta, Adams or Baker for example, because they are not in National Parks. Getting a few buddies has been on my mind, but hard to co-ordinate so far. Could happen next time!

    As regards the Himalayan climb – that was on Saribung (6,328m) Lovely summit day with just three of us on the mountain with a spectacular view!

    Keymaster
    Shashi on #44644

    Thanks for sharing the peak name in the Himalayas. Wish you the best for future climbs!

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #45073

    I agree with Shashi. It sounds like a combination of (perhaps) too much training beforehand combined with fatigue just before the event.

    Perhaps some good news is that with sufficient base training, it’s reasonable to expect that your AeT HR could rise into the high 160s. So that HR may well feel much easier in the future.

    Keymaster
    Shashi on #44643

    Wish you the best for future climbs!

    You have probably gone through these links, but here are two articles that might help –

    Tips for a Successful Expedition

    Expedition Nutrition Tips

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #45534

    Some of Shashi’s posts were filtered by accident. They should be visible now.

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