Rest/Transition period after expedition to Denali, start training for 8000m

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  • #10157

    I’ve just returned from a successful Denali expedition (summit on May 28) after following the 24 week Expeditionary Mountaineering Training Plan.
    I felt really good and strong during the climb, and although I can’t say it was easy, the truth is that I feel I was at about 60% of my capacity (I didn’t suffer at all).

    I am now planning to climb a 8000m peak (Everest) next year, so I’d like to have your advise on the following:

    1) Should I rest before starting the 24 week plan again? At the moment I don’t feel tired at all.
    2) Should I have a transition period? If yes, how long should be this period and what kind of workouts should I do?
    3) On a previous forum post I asked about adding volume/load to the 24 week plan in order to adapt it to a 8000m objective. Can I do that starting at the very beginning of the base period? Can I add 30% volume to the workouts, considering I’ll be careful not to overtrain?
    4) I understand that I can extend the 24 week plan by repeating weeks 12-16. But since I have to keep climbing, I’m planning a couple of “easy climbs” to places like Elbrus, Alps and Nepal (Island Peak). Since these climbs can last between 1 week and 1 month, how can I integrate them with the 24 week plan?


Posted In: Mountaineering

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    Anonymous on #10219


    Congratulations on your Denali climb. Its great to hear that you felt strong and not too taxed by the effort. As for your Everest training: my comments below:

    1) I’d suggest taking at least a couple of weeks break from structured training. It is common when coming off a big success (either a racing season or climb) to be super psyched to jump back into training for the next goal. The problem is that your euphoria from the recent success can mask fatigue. Then, after a few weeks back to structured training you begin to feel really tired and can’t understand why. So relax now, rest and recreate. Stay active and do things you had to forego during training for Denali. Maybe that’s sport climbing, kayaking or, God forbid, even golf! But do somethings you enjoy. Don’t count hours or wear a heart rate monitor. Have fun!

    2) When you start back we suggest at least a short transition period, normally about 4 weeks is enough time. This allows you to ease back into the routine, assess your basic fitness qualities. And start to plan out the base period.

    3) When you begin the base period for this second time through you will have your old log to refer to and can see how you managed certain training loads. It is likely that you an bump up the hours from last time. How much is impossible for me to say. A safe bet is 5-10% increase in aerobic volume/vertical. If you were under 150 hours for the last 24 week program training then as much as 25% might be in order but if you were over 250 hours then I’d not jump more than 10%.
    30% is a very big (too big in my opinion) jump and it may (unlikely) be appropriate but I would not recommend that. Too much risk of becoming over trained 4 months into the plan and then your whole preparation will be a mess and possibly not savable. Don’t get greedy with training.

    4) Integrating climbing trips into your plan is not impossible but does demand some careful planning. What I would avoid during these climbing trips is long periods of low to no activity caused by hanging out in a high base camp. These will detract from your training, which is more important than short trips to altitude this next year. If you have the flexibility, time and money to do these trips I’d strongly recommend using the “altitude training camp” method that Ueli Steck and David Goettler have used to great success. Read about it here: Next week we will have another article and video on David’s training session from this year. Going on too many real climbs during the base building period will reduce the training’s effectiveness. Climbers do not like to hear this. When Steve was training with me his friends stopped calling him to go climbing. They got tired of him saying: “I’d like to go but I have to train”. As you know this approached worked out pretty well for him. It is why we recommend a periodized approach to training for climbing.


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