Z2 hikes: what is steep enough?

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  • #63673

    In the “easy” Z2 hikes, the notes suggest not doing steep terrain, in the “hike in hilly terrain” it suggests “the hilliest terrain”. What sort of average grades make sense here? My closest hikes (in Forest Park) average around 6.5% grades for the uphill portions. My closest mountain hikes (Starvation Creek Ridge and Mount Defiance) average 17% and 20% respectively. The Starvation Creek and Mount Defiance hikes have sections that are much steeper than average grade and plenty of up with 3000′ and 5000′ climbs.

    Do the Forest Park hikes qualify as “not steep”? Are Starvation Creek and Mount Defiance hikes steep enough?

  • Moderator
    MarkPostle on #63674

    Good question Bill, a couple of considerations here I like for folks to take into account. What is available to them locally/regionally and what does their goal terrain look like. Many (most) trails are graded for ease of hiking and in some cases horse usage. This results in 6-12% gradients commonly. Many mountain peaks have terrain that follows glacial features and ridges that can be quite a bit steeper than this. Assuming your goal has some of this steeper terrain you want the training to mimic that to the extent possible, especially in the last 8-12 weeks before a goal climb. I would prioritize the steep terrain (17-20%) for the longest day of the week and the Forest Park terrain is fine for the shorter weekday outings. Although its certainly possible to use lower angle terrain to train successfully for steep terrain its never quite as good as you use your muscles a bit differently when the angle kicks up. If you have plenty of time on your hands to travel a bit to the steeper stuff then a second session per week can be helpful for sure.

    bill on #63693

    Thanks Mark. I will continue to use Forest Park for the “easy” terrain. Luckily, with Starvation Ridge and Mount Defiance trailhead about an hour away, I also have terrain close by that is roughly 20% average grade (and in sections much steeper), which should serve well for the tougher hikes.

    One more question: the trails on steep terrain around here is generally snow and ice covered for much of the winter. Any adjustments to be made for being in crampons or snowshoes? I am assuming that “staying under AeT” is still the rule.

    MarkPostle on #63714

    Yes HR zone recommendations remain constant. I do think some amount of work in both snow shoes and crampons both is ideal if you have the chance. I prioritize the crampons a bit more if that’s not something you’re super good at.

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