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Wilderness Sports > Rock & Ice Climbing > Rock and Ice Climbing: Representative Goals and Suitable Training Baselines

Rock and Ice Climbing: Representative Goals and Suitable Training Baselines

Wherever your destination may be, you can find training information specific to your goal. Below are sample destinations, trip reports, and client success stories that can motivate, inform, and help you prepare for your similar trip. As a starting resource, our book, The Outdoor Athlete contains sample programs for goals including a 1-day rock climb, intermediate 2-day rock or ice climb, or advanced multi-day high-altitude mixed climb. For each goal below, baseline training includes at least 2-4 weekly workouts: 2 30-minute (or more) full body strength sessions and 3 cardiovascular sessions, including one for at least 45-minutes at 65-75% MHR, one higher intensity 30-minute workout at 75-85 % MHR, and one low intensity recovery workout for 30 to 45 minutes <65% MHR. Suitable aerobic training options include trail running; climbing stairs and hills; working on the elliptical trainer, stair-climber, StepMill, VersaClimber, or Jacobís Ladder; and hiking.



Rock Climbing Goals

Sample 1-Day Rock Climb Your training focus beyond baseline mentioned above should be to prepare the body to carry a pack for the alpine approach and the vertical gain. Add visits to the climbing gym if available; otherwise focus on building lower-body endurance and upper-body strength. Allow at least two months.
Liberty Bell (WA)
Sport climbing in Leavenworth (WA)

Sample Multi-day Rock Climb A 20-pitch intermediate rock climb such as the north ridge of the 9,415-foot (2,870 m) Mount Stuart in Washington may be completed in a day, but for most, will include a bivy somewhere along the route. Such a climb requires additional focus on getting the forearms, core, and calves ready for multipitch gain on rock. Anaerobic training serves a dual purpose: preparing the body both for the higher altitude and for sustained climbing with individual moves up to 5.9. Practice gym climbing and shorter technical alpine climbing with your goal climbing partners as often as feasible so you can increase your speed at details requiring skill such as placing protection, racking, and using rope. Use weekly hikes to develop leg and core endurance. Allow three months.
Mt. Sill, Palisades (CA)
Forbidden (WA)
Mt. Stuart (WA)

Ice Climbing Goals

Sample 1- or 2-day Ice Climb Recommended baseline fitness for such objectives includes a weekly workload of at least one 60-minute distance session, one 45-minute uphill session, two 45-minute full-body strength training sessions, one workout in the climbing gym, and one 6-mile hike involving 2,000 feet of elevation gain and a pack weight of 22 to 25 pounds. A suitable conditioning program focus will be on getting the forearms, calves, core, and lungs used to additional work and higher altitude. Allow three months to train for an objective such as the North Ridge of Mt. Baker (WA).
Adams via Adams Glacier (WA)
Observation Rock (WA)
Eldorado: NE Face (WA)

Sample Multi-day High Altitude Climb A challenging goal such as a mixed carryover climb of the North Mowich Headwall of 14,411-foot (4,392 m) Mount Rainier in Washington includes class 5 (or A1) rock and hard snow or ice to 60 degrees and requires a carry-over with a pack of at least 40 pounds. A climber attempting such a route needs ice screws, pickets, food for multiple days, bivouac gear, and clothing for any conditions, not to mention solid technical skills and a good head for making tough decisions. A suitable 4-5 month program includes a high volume weekly workout regimen of three 45-minute cardiovascular sessions, two 45-minute full-body strength sessions, 1 to 2 sessions in a climbing gym, and a long weekly hike or scramble with >25 pounds of pack weight.
Mt. Rainier (WA): Liberty Ridge: Success Story from a client




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