Mike, if there are cliffs and rocks near your house you can practice skills. Aid bouldering, dry tooling, building anchors and rapping followed by TR soloing on that line. If you don’t know what those things are then look them up… lots of good info on the internet for the discerning reader. Training is a lot of working on weaknesses so if you can run 20 miles in zone 1 and do laps on 5.11 at the gym then consider spending a day each week doing technical practice. Search maps for cliff bands, bridges, campsites. Go camping on the coldest day of the year with your alpine kit, even if it’s car camping.
Technical training when you live far from big mountains
I live in the Mid-Atlantic region where I essentially have to get on a plane if I want to go alpine climbing. It being that I work a regular job, I have very limited opportunities each year to go alpine climbing (essentially one trip to the greater ranges, usually the Cordillera Blanca, and one short trip within North America, excluding Alaska).
I find that I can get in plenty of time to train each week (7-15 hours), and I am able to get a solid balance of aerobic, anaerobic, strength, and muscular endurance training. Essentially my training for those areas is composed of running (road and trails), weight lifting, and hiking/backpacking. Where I feel that I lack the most opportunity is in the technical training.
It isn’t too difficult for me to get to the climbing gym each week. There are also a few places I can climb top rope outside. However, if I want to do trad or ice climbing, I have to make a serious weekend trip out of it, and the ice climbing season is very short. Therefore, I have very limited experience in these forms of climbing.
I am only 26, but I want to make the most out of my alpine climbing trips by being more prepared, in order for me and my climbing partner to climb harder and more interesting routes. After all, I only have so many of these trips before I get old (that said, age doesn’t seem to be a huge limiting factor e.g., Mick Fowler, Marko Prezelj).
So, my question is if anyone knows of ways that I can be more prepared in terms of technical ability when it comes to difficult alpine climbs? Is this a reasonable concern of mine? I do not want to get in over my head attempting routes I really should not be. As Steve says, “don’t epic it.”
The obvious answer is for me to move, which I do plan to do. However, it will still be a couple of years before I am able to do so. I study a lot of the more technical aspects of alpine climbing and how to read avalanche conditions and weather patterns from books, but a book only does so much.
It may be that I am just SOL due to location, but I figured I would throw the question out there, as it is something I spend A LOT of time thinking about.
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