Training for a mountaineering/climbing/ski trip can seem intimidating at first. Also, knowing the proper nutrition for these activities can be a challenge. Thankfully, we have a resource from a local company Cascade Endurance to help.
Check out the two article below about fitness and nutrition in preperation of your trip. Both are provided by Cascade Endurance and written by Sam Naney
Congratulations! You’ve decided to embark on a mountain adventure completely under your own power. It’s a feeling like none other to get into the high country using only the engine known as You, and appreciating the remote scenery that only a few ever experience. Now the priority is on making that Engine of You ready for the journey by getting your aerobic and muscular systems at a level which will allow you to confidently tackle whatever the mountain throws at you. Training for the backcountry, whether by skis, on foot or climbing is about building up the fundamental parts of your physical fitness to form what’s known as an endurance base, and then doing some specific tune-up training to make that base ready for the adventure you’ve chosen. Fundamentally, the goal is to make you ready for MORE than what you’ll likely encounter in the mountains; this way you’ll have a reserve of strength and fitness to bolster your confidence, and to draw upon if circumstances require it. Placing technical skills aside (such as climbing-specific techniques or equipment usage; these skills should be developed in person with a trained and experience instructor), your physical preparations for any mountain adventure require two fundamental components: aerobic fitness and strength. Within these core elements you can build in specificity of movement (such as hill climbing or ski practice) to hone in one your goal. Below I’ll outline the basics of these two systems and give you ideas on how to train them. Like all fitness programs, these preparations are best done under the guidance of a coach who can monitor your progress and tailor the training to yourindividual goals and abilities. Aerobic DevelopmentThe lynchpin to any successful pursuit lasting longer than three minutes is aerobic fitness. Essentially, this is your body’s ability to use oxygen to power the muscles to move farther and faster with the least amount of energy expended. Whether you’re a 1500m Olympic track runner or a professional climber on a Himalayan peak, the core principle and function is the same. But how do you build this system? There are three components to good aerobic training: Frequency, Duration, and Intensity. Frequency and duration go together, and are self-explanatory: you get better at something the more you do it. Aerobic training in particular benefits from frequent outings, done gradually over a longer and longer duration. In other words, if you begin your training with a 30 minute run every other day, to progress your fitness you should consider adding more first more days of running, then increase the duration of each run to build your overall total volume each week. The third factor to consider in training aerobic fitness is intensity: how hard you go in your workouts. If you spend all your time training at a pace that leaves you mostly breathless and sputtering, unable to hold a conversation and speak in lengthy sentences, you’re going too hard and probably aren’t helping your aerobic system that much. This is because you’re demanding energy at too high a rate from your body, and it is therefore seeking it from more readily-available sources like glycogen (sugars). In contrast, a well aerobically-trained person will burn a higher proportion of fats, which have a much denser energy quantity, thus allowing you to go longer with less demand on the body. To manage your intensity and to ensure that you’re staying in an aerobic zone during your training efforts, try the “Nosebreathing” strategy: anytime you exercise, close your mouth and breathe only through your nose, in for a 2-count and out for a 2-count. Only go as fast as this breathing style will allow; you may likely find yourself walking more! The killer secret to this method is that if you stay honest with it and don’t cheat, over time you’ll find that you are going faster over the same terrain while still nosebreathing, which results in a greater economy: more work for less effort. Strength DevelopmentTo build the strength you need for mountain travel, you don’t need big muscles or the ability to do 10,000,000 burpees in five minutes in The Box. What you do need is to improve your strength to weight ratio and resulting muscular endurance for greatest efficiency. In the same way as training the aerobic system, your muscles must be able to do a high volume of work for the smallest amount of energy expended. There are a myriad ways to approach this and they vary based on time and equipment available, as well as your abilities going into the training. But there is one component that holds strong (get it?) throughout all the variables: core strength. Now, don’t confuse true core strength with images of beefcake abs and endless sit- up routines and Jane Fonda videos. The core musculature of importance are your deep abdominals, those muscles which support and hold firm the rest of your body during movement. As you start to fatigue from a long climb up the mountain, your weakening extremities shift the burden to your core to hold your body firm. If you have a weak core, you have no link in that chain and the whole system collapses. The legs and arms are forced to work harder, earlier, and they tap out before you reach your objective. Building a strong core supports those muscles so they’re not overloaded, and supports your whole frame so that there are no “energy leaks” that come from imbalances.