What to do if I fall behind in the last weeks before climb?

  • Creator
  • #25878

    First off, some background: I have had virtually zero formal training/coaching ever. I have hardly been consistently physically active for longer than 3 months, until a year ago when I became drawn to the mountains and discovered TFTNA. I had some pretty serious day hikes under my belt by that point, but nothing like the new goal I had set for myself: to summit Chimborazo in Ecuador.

    So for the past year, I have studied the book extensively as well as this website to get into structured, gradual, consistent training for the first time in my life (albeit self-coached based on my readings). I also have been diligently using the premium TrainingPeaks service for the past year to further help tracking and planning of my fitness/training. I’ve also learned the mountaineering skills for snow travel and steep ice, and I took a crevasse rescue course, so I feel confident in the technical skills area.

    I followed the Transition and Base periods as outlined in the book pretty well, although my strength training was lacking, with fairly inconsistent sprinkling of gym sessions and some hill sprint sessions. I did get in a lot of aerobic capacity building, lots of uphill/downhill trail running, and a good amount of some steep hikes with lots of vertical.

    My problem is that due to life events (school and work getting very demanding and having my first child 2 months ago), my Specific period sort of fell off a cliff. I was doing great through June and the first half of July with plenty of grueling hikes/climbs, some water jug carry workouts, and recovery workouts between them, but since July 13 (which was a very long, intense alpine route with some 7-8,000 ft of vert, a portion being 60 deg ice – very specific for Chimborazo), I have only had a rock climbing session and an hour-long run.

    My wife is from Ecuador, and we are in Quito for the next three weeks to visit her family as well as do lots of exploring. I have scheduled a guided climb with Andean Adventures to attempt Chimborazo on August 7, which is in only 5 more days. I am at a loss as to what I should do at this point. Since I will be here until August 21, I can push back my scheduled climb and try to get in more specific training on some lower peaks. This whole tapering idea is new to me, so I don’t know if my taper period of doing nearly nothing for the 3.5 weeks before the climb has killed a lot of my progress and I need to get in extra training, or if it was fine and I should just go for it and then if I fail, try again sometime in the following 1-1.5 weeks (I’m willing to pay for two attempts). If I push the date back, I could do some acclimatization hikes, and I would be here in Quito at 2,700m (8,900 feet) for a bit longer as well. However, I’m also worried that tough acclimatization hikes will make me more tired rather than stronger on summit day.

    Basically, I messed up the last few weeks, but I want to do whatever I can from here on out to maximize my chances of getting up and down the mountain. I’ve read so many accounts online of people taking too long to where the conditions for melt/rockfall get too dangerous or a storm comes rolling in before they could make it to the top. If I fail to climb the peak, I want to make sure that my fitness wasn’t to blame. What would be a good course of action given my circumstances?


Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #25924


    While not an idea preparation I still think you should go for the climb. You are there and have booked the trip. I suspect that despite the last few weeks lay off you will be fine. The only reasons I can see delaying the climb a few days is weather or conditions.


    sethmnielsen on #25925


    Thank you for that straight-to-the-point response; that is a huge confidence boost! Great, I honestly was hoping to stick with my original date for the climb.

    Can I ask as well about the benefit of “acclimatization hikes”, and are they worth it in this situation? I have read from many trip reports up Chimborazo that they do acclimatization hikes/climbs up one or several of the 5000m peaks nearby to help acclimatize for the 6268m summit of Chimbo. It seems that people do this one or two days before their attempt. However, that sounds like you’re also going to tire yourself out significantly before the goal climb – is it a good idea to do something like that in the 5 days before my attempt? I’ll have been in Quito (2700m) for a whole week prior to the attempt so it’s not like I’m coming from sea level.

    Thanks so much for your advice, @Scott!


    us on #26263

    You can climb Corazon or Illniza Norte and return to rest at Quito to help acclimatization.

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