In Training for the New Alpinism, Steve House, world-class climber and Patagonia ambassador, and Scott Johnston, coach of U.S. National Champions and World Cup Nordic Skiers, translate training theory into practice to allow you to coach yourself to any mountaineering goal. Applying training practices from other endurance sports, House and Johnston demonstrate that following a carefully designed regimen is as effective for alpinism as it is for any other endurance sport and leads to better performance. They deliver detailed instruction on how to plan and execute training tailored to your individual circumstances. Whether you work as a banker or a mountain guide, live in the city or the country, are an ice climber, a mountaineer heading to Denali, or a veteran of 8,000-meter peaks, your understanding of how to achieve your goals grows exponentially as you work with this book. Chapters cover endurance and strength training theory and methodology, application and planning, nutrition, altitude, mental fitness, and assessing your goals and your strengths. Chapters are augmented with inspiring essays by world-renowned climbers, including Ueli Steck, Mark Twight, Peter Habeler, Voytek Kurtyka, and Will Gadd. Filled with photos, graphs, and illustrations.
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About the Author
Scott Johnston, who grew up in Boulder, CO, has ski raced on a national and international level and is an avid climber. He currently coaches several of the nation’s top cross country skiers, and climbs, establishing local climbing routes in and around his home town of Mazama, WA, in the North Cascades, where he lives.
Mark Twight has applied the light-and-fast tactics he first developed in Europe to climbs ranging from the Himalayas to Alaska. Mark is the author of two books: Extreme Alpinism Climbing Light, Fast and High and Kiss or Kill Confessions of a Serial Climber. He is a Patagonia ambassador, and the founder of GymJones.
Read an Excerpt
The Old Becomes New Again
It was a close, warm, breezeless summer night,
Wan, dull, and glaring, with a dripping fog
Low-hung and thick that covered all the sky;
But, undiscouraged, we began to climb
William Wordsworth, “The Prelude” (17991805)
Physical exploration of the world was growing rapidly during the Romantic Period, the time of Wordsworth. Early mountaineers were upper class and well educated: poets, photographers, geologists, painters, and natural historians.
In 1895 the Englishman and alpinist Albert Mummery and four men undertook the first attempt to climb one of the Himalaya’s giant peaks, the 26,660-foot (8,126-meter) high Nanga Parbat. Mummery and two of his men lost their lives in an avalanche during the attempt. Thus climbing entered the twentieth century with artistic grace tainted by extreme tragedy; this began the greatest period of growth in alpinism, particularly in the Alps.
Technical standards rose rapidly. In 1906, 5.9 was first climbed in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Around this same time Austrian Paul Preuss trained himself to do one-armed pull-ups and climbed (and down climbed) alpine rock routes in the Dolomites to a modern grade of 5.8, solo and in hobnailed boots. By 1922 the top grade was 5.10d. Climbers of the time climbed many beautiful, difficult routes in the mountains. To modern climbers, they seem to have been driven by an innate curiosity to ascend, explore, and observe what would unfold in the process.
The great wars twisted everything; the conquest of the world’s fourteen highest peaks after World War II became surrogate battlegrounds to reinforce superiority, or symbolize rebirth, depending on whether your country had won or lost: Annapurna to the French, Everest to the British, Nanga Parbat to the Germans, K2 to the Italians. Ascent was transformed into conquest; summits became symbols of nationalistic pride. The climbing of mountains was changed forever. This ended symbolically in 1980 when Reinhold Messner was asked why he did not carry his country’s flag to the top of Everest, and he replied: “I did not go up for Italy, nor for South Tirol. I went up for myself.” Though his comment angered many at the time, the line was drawn.
In the information age all must be measured. For climbing, an emphasis on difficulty and speed emerged. Hardest, highest, fastest. In the age of social media all must be shared. The resulting cocktail of cameras, danger, and testosterone are all too often tragic. Rarely graceful.
The new alpinism comes full circle as small teams of fit, trained athletes emulate Mummery, aspire to Preuss, climb like the young Messner. Because those pioneers knew that alpinismindeed all mindful pursuitsis at its most simple level, the sum of your daily choices and daily practices. Progress is entirely personal. The spirit of climbing does not lie in outcomeslists, times, your conquests. You do keep those; you will always know which mountains you have climbed, which you have not. What you can climb is a manifestation of the current, temporary, state of your whole self. You can’t fake a sub-four-minute mile just as you can’t pretend to do an asana. Ascent too is an expression of many skills developed, refined, mastered.
Training is the most important vehicle for preparation. Constant practice begets examination and refinement of technique as well as fitness. It is not our natural tendency to value struggle over success, a worldview that climbing sternly enforces. Embracing struggle for its own sake is an important step on your path. Incremental vacillations in your selfyour physical and mental selvesare exquisitely revealed in practicing ascent. There is no end to your progress or your process. For the two of us the pursuit of climbing mountains has been among the most powerful personal experiences we have known. Nothing else has come close to the blunt power of climbing to inform us about ourselves.
We don’t presume to tell anyone what the new alpinism will actually become; no one can know this. But we do think that we have earned the perspective to point in the right general direction: Structured, progressive training will be a big component, perhaps define, the future of alpine climbing. But not because it will help you climb harder, fasterthough it will. Training prepares your body and, most important, your mind for ascent through consistent, hard, disciplined practice.
Go simply, train smart, climb well.
Table of Contents
Foreword: The Edge of the Map, by Mark Tight
Introduction: The Old Becomes New Again
Chapter 1: Training for the New Alpinism
“First Steps, Missteps, by Steve House
Don’t EpicKeep it Under Control, by Ueli Steck
Section 1: The Physiology and Methods of Training
Chapter 2: The Methodology of Endurance Training
The Alpinist as Athlete
Getting Results, by Steve House
The Two Types of Training
Transitions, by Zoe Hart
A Brief Discussion of Physiology Basics
The Adaptation to a Training Stimulus
The Training Effect
The Guiding Principles: Continuity, Gradualness, and Modulation
Preparation for Success
The Individuality of Training
Understanding the Language of Intensity
Fatigue and Recovery: How They are Related
Forty Years of Climbing, by Christophe Moulin
Monitoring Your Training
Returning to Training after a Break
Deep Fatigue on Kunyang Chish East, by Steve House
Overtraining Can Lead to Overuse Injury
What Should You Feel?
TINSTAAFL: There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch,
by Mark Twight
Chapter 3: The Physiology of Endurance Training
The Evolution of Endurance
The Aerobic Base
The North Face of the North Twin, by Steve House
Fuels for Energy
Fitness, Fat, and Fuel, by Scott Johnston
The Physiology of Endurance
Boosting Your Aerobic Power
More Pieces of the Aerobic Fitness Puzzle
Ultra-Training, by Krissy Moehl
Putting All the Pieces Together
The Base is Crucial
Training for Alpine Climbing in the Former USSR,
by Alexander Odintsov
Chapter 4: The Theory of Strength Training
Strength: Even for Endurance Athletes?
The Difference Between Power and Work, by Tony Yaniro
Strength on Mount Alberta, by Steve House
Chapter 5: The Methodology of Strength Training
What is Strength?
What is Strength Training?
Why Should Climbers Train Strength?
How Strength Training Works
After Injury: The Long, Long Road Back, by Tony Yaniro
Women and Strength
Strength Training Terms and Concepts
Periodization for Strength Training
The Value of Specific Strength Training, by Tony Yaniro
Section 2: Planning Your Training
Chapter 6: Assessing Your Fitness
Maximizing Your Fitness
Judging Your Current Strengths
Twelve Hundred Feet, by Caroline George
The Quest to Climb Everest in a Day, by Chad Kellogg
Chapter 7: Transitioning into Training
Listen to Your Body
The Training Log
Training Plans: Steve’s Transition Period before Makalu 2009
Planning Your Transition Period
Strength Training During the Transition Period
Core Strength in the Transition Period
Bowls of JellO, Links of a Chain, by Scott Johnston
General Strength Training in the Transition Period
Chapter 8: Planning Your Base Period Training
The Importance of the Base
Training is Teamwork, by Roger Schaeli
Fitting Strength Training into Your Base Period Plan
Max Strength Period
Conversion to Muscular Endurance Period p
Building Your Own Base Period Endurance Plan
Marathon Pace, by Kelly Cordes
Chapter 9: Climb, Climb, Climb
Planning the Climbing-Specific Period
Training to Perform, by Will Gadd
Building Your Specific Period Plan
Chapter 10: Tapering
Section 3: Tools for Training
Chapter 11: Nutrition: Eating with Purpose
Eating for Climbing Performance
The Components of Food
Learning to Fuel, by Steve House
Key Nutritional Knowledge
Eating While Training for Alpine Climbing
Three Sisters in a Day on Only M&M’s, by Scott Johnston
Eating While Alpine Climbing
Hitting the Wall, by Vince Anderson
A Few Case Studies in Eating While Alpine Climbing,
by Steve House
Eat with Purpose
A Conversation with Peter Habeler, by Steve House
Chapter 12: Altitude: Climbing Higher, Faster
Altitude Physiology Basics
How to Acclimate: Two Strategies
My First 8,000er, by Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner
High Altitude: Your First Time
Acclimatizing: Tips and Tricks
Climb and Acclimatize, by Marko Prezelj
Can You Pre-Acclimate at Your Low-Elevation Home?
Preparing Your Body to Go High
The Khumbu Cough, by Steve House
Expedition Eating, by Steve Swenson
Hydration at High Altitude
Sleeping at Altitude
How Fast Do You De-Acclimate?
Altitude Illnesses and Their Causes
Alone with HAPE, by Steve House
Be Tough and Smart
The Art of Suffering, by Voytek Kurtyka
Chapter 13: Mental Fitness: The Most Difficult 80 Percent
The Mental/Physical Balance
Eighty Percent, by Steve House
Your Ideal Mental State for Climbing?
The Unbreakable Will, by Stefan Siegrist
Prepare Yourself to Suffer, by Jean Troillet
Practicing Failing, by Scott Johnston
On Fear, by Danika Gilbert
The Climb of the Future: 5.13c in 1978, by Tony Yaniro
The Necessity of Cycles, by Andreas Fransson
Non-Laziness and Practice
Section 4: Train, Practice, Climb
Chapter 14: Training by Climbing
Going Climbing Versus Training for Climbing
Your Best Days Climbing
Planning a Year’s Climbing as Training
Cold and Hungry, by Scott Semple
Planning the Individual Periods
Mileage on the Real Thing, by Colin Haley
A Base Period of Climbing
Take a Road Trip
Les Droites, by Barry Blanchard
Recuperate and Regenerate
Two Attempts on the Southeast Face of Jyzyl-Asker, by Inis Papert
Chapter 15: The Art of Self-Knowledge
Appendix: Helpful Nutrition Tables
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