How to prepare for your climbing expedition with Aventuras Patagonicas.
The following resources will be useful in preparing yourself physically for a high-altitude expedition. They emphasize both strength and cardiovascular conditioning to give you the best chance of reaching the summit.
1. High Altitude Training Program - Great ideas for Aconcagua by Stacy Taniguchi
2. Training for Mountaineering - Preparation and Conditioning information from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
It is imperative that everyone joining a mountaineering expedition be in a high standard of physical fitness when the expedition begins. The amount of time needed for training is completely dependent on the general level of fitness a person is in prior to the expedition.
For the person that has spent the last ten years behind a desk with no emphasis on keeping in shape, it may take two years to regain top physical ability. The person that has always prioritized conditioning and a rigorous workout as a part of their daily routine, may only take a few months to fine tune for the demands of mountaineering.
Consider, when setting up your program, that you will need to develop the endurance to carry a 50 lb. pack, wearing climbing boots, for 6-8 hours per day. Though it is impossible to train for altitude you can put yourself on a conditioning program that will best prepare you for this type of physical stress. How to do this? It is impossible to be specific and say if you do this and that you will be ready for a physically demanding expedition. Each person is different and everyone has different terrain and time at their disposal. After many years of observing climbers there are some reoccurring training schemes that seem to help some people be better prepared than others.
- Train for developing stamina. Run, bike, ski, fast walk. Vary your routine to prevent overuse injuries and push yourself without injuring yourself. Do warm up and cool down stretches.
- Progressive resistance weight training. This type of training improves anaerobic metabolism that feeds much of muscular work. This type of human energy production is fed by stored carbohydrates that require no additional oxygen to metabolize.
- Train on hills or stairs with a pack on. You must be prepared for 13,000 of uphill wearing a 50 lb. pack and 13,000 of downhill. Start with a light pack and gradually increase the weight. Never run with a pack on.
- Wear 2 lb. ankle weights to help condition for the extra weight of climbing boots, soft snow and loose scree. (Don t wear these while running).
- Train as often as possible by skiing or hiking for all day, weekend or longer trips. Train for what you are going to do! If you want to be good at climbing big mountains with a big pack on, start on little mountains with a small pack on and work your way up. Conditioning by climbing is the best thing you can do. Get comfortable moving in mountainous terrain all day long!! Heavy packs tend to tire climbers the most. Be prepared by training ahead of time and you will do fine. Don t expect to get used to wearing a pack while you are on the expedition.
- Be mentally prepared for the expedition. Know before you start the climb and accept the fact that at times you will be uncomfortable and that your body is going to be uncooperative. You are going to have to push yourself (unless you are superhuman). If you don t have the ability to do this you won t be successful. You may be in a cramped tent for many storm days. You are leaving the comforts of home in order to experience a unique challenge and a remarkable mountain. It is worth it!
- - You must also be well enough in tune with yourself to know the difference between pushing yourself and acute mountain sickness, pulmonary or cerebral edema. These are all serious altitude related problems which must be acknowledged. It is possible to push yourself too far. For the safety of the team, the chief guide will make a final decision on who needs a rest day, who continues to ascend or who descends.
- A good diet cannot be underestimated. Research out a diet that will help develop stamina and strength and that you can live with. There are lots of books and articles that will get you started or consulta professional nutritionist that has worked with athletes.
This type of training can easily take two hours per day, 5 days a week. Be committed to it and be consistent. It will pay off many times over!
We hope this gives you ideas on which to base your training schedule. We recommend talking to a professional exercise physiologist and setting up a conditioning program that you can incorporate into your daily routine which will meet these goals. Start today with your training and keep it up.
Good luck and please contact us you have any questions.