Training for 7100 m at 60+ age?

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  • #72742

    I consider climbing a technically easy 7100 m peak in Pamir in July. I turned 60 this year and I am climbing for 45 years with some 25 ascents above 4000 m and 5-6 times above 5000 m (last time in 2019) and a mountain guide qualification. I am training with an HR monitor for the past 20 years and currently using Garmin Fenix6 X Pro Solar. I am a scientist in the nanotech field so would like to know why I am doing something. For such a big “jump” in the goal, I feel I must include more structured training. I started the pro account in Training Peaks. My current CTL is 31 and I put a target of 80 for July. What bothers me is that TP is not using, even uploading Heart Rate Variability data. I read your opinion about HRV training recommendations. And at I agree, e.g. my Garmin on the 45th minute of my AeT suggested that I reached a Training Effect of 5 and suggested a 3-day rest! My AeT measured the other day by the drift method on the treadmill was 125 bpm. Which surprised me because 5 years ago I did a gas analysis VO2 max test + blood lactate measurements and the AnT was determined to be 128. I should mention that all my life I am largely overweight with a current BMI of 32. So, I would like to drop some 15 kg before July apart from training. As a plus, there is a 2300 m mountain just 20 min away.

    Please advise me for your resources for training for mountaineering at an elderly age? I noticed you are preparing a plan for this? I consider buying access to your 7-hour video lectures on training but will this help me as I did not notice mountaineering included? I also consider ordering your 24-week plan. I am even thinking of working with a coach or maybe joining your training groups. However, as I work in a low-income country (Bulgaria, Europe) my finances are limited. I like very much your site and highly appreciate your experience! I think you are the best in the field. That is why I post this question here and I trust your expert advice! Thanks in advance!

Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Participant
    bbarlin10 on #73842

    I usually just use my Apple watch, wear it to bed to get my HRV. I had to use a program called HealthFit to get all the different data to TP, it works great. Besides my HRV, I get sleep and weight from my wifi scale. It will work with a lot of devices including Garmin and it’s free!

    The 7 hour video series is a very good intro to the methodology for any endurance sport, don’t worry about mountaineering specific at your stage of learning, and it is cheap! However you need the book as backup reference material. I watched it 3 times and referred to the book repeatedly while trying to understand the concepts well enough. This is a very inexpensive way to get an introduction to the methodology. The training plans are cheap as well. There is plenty of articles and podcasts here to help you modify one. If you can’t afford a trainer you can get there, it will just take more effort.

    Now to the real issues:

    I am 65 and holding mid 80’s on TP. This is after about 2 years of effort with a long history of aerobic and strength training (not always the correct training but consistent over the years). So first I would say that is an aggressive time period. I am training about 12 hours per week to keep that number. By the time my rest day comes I am beat. We don’t recover nearly as quickly. So first question is given your BMI can you really ramp up that much training while trying to maintain a calorie deficit at 60? Trying to lose 30+ pounds in 9 months (based on your original post date) while pounding out the hours is a misery and very demotivating. It will really mess up your recovery. Second, how aerobically deficient are you? You need to baseline your current AnT and see if you are within the magic 10%. If you are really deficient it could take a long time before you can start doing enough hours to really knock off 30 lbs. Unfortunately AeT work does not burn calories very fast. So you have to put in lots of hours, but you are probably not ready to do 2-3 hours a day I would guess.

    You don’t really need a special plan for age, you just have to realize it is going to take much longer to get to your goals than a 20 year old. You can do it but I would say more like 2 years, not 9 months. After 2 years of work I did Aconcagua and it was a great experience. Started out with 5 other members in our group, all in their 30’s and only myself and one other group member summited. This stuff works, but over 60 just be patient and have realistic goals. Cheers

    George on #73887

    Dear bbarlin10, thank you very much for your comment. It was good to know that you are able to maintain CTL of 85 with only 12 hours/week of training. I was thinking that one has to put in some 20 hours/week. The main problem as I see it is to be healthy, also in the legs. Maybe my program is too ambitious but then this 7100 m peak is preceded by 5800 and 6200 m peaks. So I will go as far as I feel OK and confident. Then, I plan on climbing alone cracks allowing by my tempo Z1-Z2 tempo. And I have unlimited free time in the summer, so I will move up only after being well acclimatized. Another advantage I consider using is to build additional camp 4 on the way up at 6500 m. From 6100 m. camp up seems too big an effort.

    So, I am going through the 7-hour videos and following your advice will order also the books. Also installed the 24-week plan. But 4-week ago was hit by Covid though recovered pretty quickly. And then 5 days ago another virus hit me, this time with a much slower recovery. This time I will take more time off. I was planning an AnT test as you suggested but now I will postpone it. I also joined the Mountaineering training group starting in mid-January. I will see how things go. I do not know whether I will be able to drop that much weight. You are right – I will lack power and recovery. I do not know what to prioritize – endurance training or weight drop. Can you advise on this? Cheers!

    bbarlin10 on #73897

    The 24 Week Mountaineering plan at it’s peak only has about 14-15 hours per week. 12 hours per week was good enough for Aconcagua, but that is a non-technical peak. Before I left for Argentina here is what I was doing per week:
    5 hours of sub-AeT cardio with a pack with 20% Body Weight.
    3 of strength training/stretching.
    1 hour of Muscular Endurance.
    One 2-3 hour run.

    It took me about 2 years to get to this level.

    If your climbs will be technical, it will probably be more. Here is my experience. For the older athlete to climb big peaks with moderate technical work, we have to hit a higher level of fitness to achieve the same results that a younger person would. From this post:,of%20125%2B%20for%20three%20months

    Scott gives examples of what it takes to climb Denali and Everest. For Denali they have a benchmark of 75 in TP. I know from experience that even with my current score of 85, I could not climb Denali. When I summited I would guess I was training about 20 hours per week and was 15 years younger. So I would guess that my fitness was approaching 120 in relative terms. Back then there was no TP. So I would guess add 20-25% more to achieve the same results that someone in their 30s would and then add a factor for the technical difficulty. I wish they would show us the TP Performance Management Chart for Art Muir, the 76 year old that summited Everest in 21. Be interesting to compare. Not trying to depress you, just being realistic. Steve’s most recent podcast again emphasizes there is no quick route to fitness.

    I don’t think the summer with unlimited time will help. Unfortunately your body will only accept so much stress before it breaks. There are several good Podcasts on this subject. Being at altitude just makes it happen quicker. Problem is that when you are climbing you are withdrawing from your fitness account, much as you would money from a bank. If your climb is technical/difficult/high altitude (i.e. not a trekking peak) you will run out of “money” and depending on where you are on your climb it could be dangerous. It is unreasonable to assume that you gain fitness while climbing!

    To answer your first question, as a compromise, I would try to lose at least 15 lbs before I started a lot of training. Then accept the rest and work on your fitness. Merry Christmas, although I feel like the Grinch.

    Jane Mackay on #73904


    Bbarlin has given very good guidance.

    Specific to what you said about having had Covid and then another virus, if you haven’t reaad this thread about Covid, it would be worth reading it:
    Also, feel free to post any questions relating specifically to recovery from illness and getting back to training in the Covid 19 & Sports Med forum and Doctor Thomas Summer will reply.

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