I’ve moved your query to a new topic since I think its warrants its own thread. Thanks Scott S for brining this to my attention. Things can get lost on the forum if they get pushed too far down in a discussion, but that why SS makes the big $$.
This is a question we get a lot from guides and it is a tough thing to answer in general but here goes:
When Steve was in the most productive years of his climbing career he had scaled back significantly on his guiding days to allow himself more structured time for training. He tells an amusing anecdote when we speak to groups: When he was training for his big climbs his climbing buddies stopped calling because his most frequent reply to invitations to go climbing was; “I’d love to but I’ve got to train”.
The take away is that guiding and hard personal climbing don’t mix well. Your experience shows a very effective way to to “periodize” your guiding work and personal climbing trips. Your summer of Rainier trips done at a “client pace” developed that basic aerobic capacity I go on and on so often about (to the point of sounding like a broken record, I know). Then you shifted focus to more technical climbing before the Patagonia trip and felt like a machine there. You may have just stumbled upon this trick but don’t forget it as that type of periodization works amazingly well as you can now see.
What does not work so well is the Rainier or other alpine or mountaineering guide who wants to hit Yosemite and climb big hard routes in October after snow slogging or only climbing 5.6 and below all summer. These guides have not left themselves any time to rebuild their climbing base capacity (skill, strength, muscular endurance) before they hope to maximally utilize it on hard routes. This is a less than ideal way to prep but we see it often.
Back to you: Now you see what that big dumb, base can do for you. Pretty cool huh. Do that a few more times and or mix in some ME training after the big summer base building period and you will really see what fitness does for you in the mountains.
Congratulations on figuring this out on your own. It only took me 20 some years of dicking around when I was climbing to stumble upon this approach. When I did though I had an incredible month in Chamonix in the fall of ’91. I didn’t fully comprehend how I become so strong until a few years later. But since I figured this out it has been my go to method and it formed the basis of Steve’s training and subsequently our book.
Don’t forget this lesson.