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Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 3

Now the real work begins! This is the beginning of Phase 2: Foundation / Build. You’ll be adding strength work and cross training to your daily training routine. Fit to Climb: Week 3 Schedule
1 Rainier Dozen (*see below) / Easy Hiking ( 30 min) 42 min. Medium
2 Rainier Dozen / Stair Interval Training (40 min) 52 min. Hard
3 Rainier Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
4 Strength Circuit Training x 2 (*see below) 38 min. Hard
5 Rainier Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
6 Rainier Dozen / Cross Training (1 hr) 72 min. Medium
7 Rainier Dozen / Hike (2 hrs) 132 min. Medium
Total 6 hrs
THE RAINIER DOZEN You’ve been doing the Daily Dozen for two weeks, going forward the new Daily Workout will be the Rainier Dozen. The Rainier Dozen is based upon the Daily Dozen and it’s a more advanced workout. Here are a list of the exercises. You may be familiar with all or some. A description is added below for each exercise. Following the Rainier Dozen, you’ll find a description of the Day 4 Strength Circuit.
1. Steam engine 2. Three quarter squats 3. Turkish Get Up 4. Lunge 5. Arm extender 6. Triceps Dip 7. Deep squat 8. Steam engine laying down 9. Mountain climber 10. Push up 11. Ranger crawl 12. 8 Point Body Builder
If you have any concerns about performing these exercises, consider hiring a coach or fitness trainer to help you learn how to get the most from each movement. 1. Steam Engine How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands clasped behind your head. Lift your left knee, simultaneously twisting your body to the right, while keeping the muscles of your core engaged. Alternate the movement, using your right knee and left elbow. 2. Three Quarter Squats How to do it: Stand with legs shoulder width apart and arms at your sides. Swing your arms forward and up, raising them above your head, palms facing forward. At the same time, bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair. Hold the Squat briefly, then stand up by pushing through your heels, until you are in a full upright standing position. 3. Turkish Get Up How to do it: Step 1: Starting in a laying down position, with the right hand vertically toward the sky, bring the right knee into a bended position, while rolling towards your left. Placing the left hand on the ground, bring the right foot over the body and placing it on the floor. From here, keeping the right arm vertical, bring your body into the lunge position. From this position, push down on the right leg to bring your entire body into the standing-upright position. Step 2: Drop back to the lunge position, with your left foot back. Place your left arm on the ground. Simultaneously rotate your body towards the right, while extending the right leg. Place your bottom on the ground, proceeding to lay flat while the right arm remains vertical throughout. 4. Lunge How to do it: Stand upright, feet and legs together, hands on hips, elbows out to sides. Step your right leg backward. Bend your left knee until the kneecap is directly above your foot, causing the leg to form a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously lower your right leg until the knee almost rests on the ground, forming another 90-degree angle. Step back to starting position, and repeat, stepping backward with the left leg. Continue to alternate legs. 5. Arm Extender How to do it: Standing upright, start with the hands and elbows at shoulder level. Simultaneously extend elbows outwards three times, and on the fourth time, completely extend the arm to finish with arms completely straight out to the side. Pause, and repeat. 6. Triceps Dip How to do it: Find a solid object, such as a wall, stairs, or a bench. Facing outwards, place the hands behind your body on the edge of the object. Your legs can be straight, or to reduce the resistance, they can bent at the knees. With the core muscles engaged, simply lower your body until the angle behind your forearm and upper arm is approximately 100 degrees. Be careful to not lower yourself more than this, because to do so will place undue strain on the shoulders. Reverse movement to start position. 7. Deep Squat How to do it: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart, toes pointing out at 45-degree angles. Put your hands on your hips and bend your knees out to the sides, making sure to keep them in line with the toes. Lower your body in a Squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then push up through your heels to a standing position. Repeat. 8. Steam Engine (on ground) How to do it: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, head slightly raised, taking care not to pull on your neck. Extend your legs fully, holding them an inch or so off the ground. Bend the left knee in toward your body as you extend your right elbow to touch the left knee. Alternate the movement, touching your right knee to your left elbow as you extend the left leg fully. 9. Mountain Climber How could the mountain climber not be good for mountain climbing! Seriously though, the mountain climber is a great exercise for core strength, hip flexor extension, agility in the calves and strength in the feet and ankles. How this benefits the climber is through the improved flexibility, coordination, strength and endurance required during the stepping-up motion. How to do it: Starting in the plank position, bring the right foot forward as if you were in the starting blocks of a 100 meter sprint. From here, simply alternate your left and right legs between this position with a small hop or jump, as if running or bounding. The length of the movement can be shorter or longer depending on your level of ability. 10. Push Up How to do it: Start with palms and toes on the ground, body in the air, as straight and strong as possible. Your arms should be directly underneath your shoulders, and you can spread your fingers wide for stability. (If this is more of a challenge than you’d like right now, do a modified Push-up with your knees on the ground.) Keeping the back and neck straight, inhale, bend your elbows and lower yourself until you are about 2 inches off the ground. Exhale as you push back up into the starting position. Repeat. 11. Ranger Crawl How to do it: Starting in the plank position, bring the right knee towards the right elbow. Pause, then return to the start position. Then, switch feet and bring the left knee towards the left elbow, again, pausing, before returning to the start position. Repeat. What’s important with this exercise is to engage the core muscles and the arm and shoulder muscles prior to beginning the movements. Keep the hips low to maintain the plank position. 12. 8 Point Bodybuilder How to do it: Starting in the standing position, drop to the ground and then thrust both legs back to the plank position. Perform a push up. Then, perform a scissor, spreading the legs wide, then returning them to the start position. From here, bring the feet forward into a position to be able to perform a power jump. Finally, perform the power jump, finishing with a hand clap before returning to the start position (see this video for an explanation). STRENGTH CIRCUIT TRAINING A. (Rainier Dozen to warm up) - 12 minutes B. The 8 exercises for this circuit (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest) x 2 - 16 minutes, based on the Rainier Dozen, are:
1. Stem Engine 2. Push Up 3. Squat 4. Lunge 5. Plank 6. Jump rope / Jumping Jack 7. Mountain Climber 8. Side Lunge
C. (10 Minute Cool Down) - 10 minutes. See the Home Stretch for exercises. - John Colver Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program. John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.
Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi Mark,

Rick had a similar question several years ago. We couldn’t find a video of the Arm Extender but here is an alternative description from Colver’s Book Fit By Nature:

“This is a 4-count exercise to warm up the arms and upper/middle back. Bend your elbows and move them as far behind your back as you can, looking for a squeezing sensation in your shoulder blades. Do this three times. On the fourth count, perform the same movement but with arms fully extended.”

You are essentially raising your hands to chest level and holding your elbows parallel with the ground, then holding that position and squeezing your shoulder blades together three times - bringing your elbows out and backwards, on the fourth time you extend your arms while still squeezing your shoulders together.

- The RMI Team

Posted by: RMI Expeditions on 11/1/2019 at 11:38 am

Please explain arm extender more precisely or send a video link. Thanks

Posted by: Mark wilde on 10/31/2019 at 5:52 pm

Mt. Everest Expedition: Dave Hahn Details the Days Events as the Team Arrives Base Camp

At Camp One, we were up before dawn, boiling cups of instant coffee and hurriedly packing. It wasn't going to be an ideal scenario, by any means... Being "rescued" from 20,000 ft on Mount Everest, along with perhaps 180 of our closest friends... But we weren't likely to get any better offers... The Icefall Route that should have been a two hour descent to Basecamp was decidedly out of order and couldn't be fixed while the earth was still shaking. We got out in the cold shadows in our down suits and thankfully saw clear and calm conditions. Perhaps we all did have a chance to escape the Western Cwm. It seemed unlikely that ninety plus landings and take offs -at what was a record breaking rescue altitude for helicopters only twenty years ago- could be accomplished without chaos or catastrophe... or at least unworkable delay, but sure enough, the first B3 powered on in at 6 AM and the great Everest Air Show began. A fear of the team leaders was a helicopter mob scene ala Saigon '75, but we'd arrayed our helipads in a way that didn't allow for mobbing and everybody seemed to understand the need for superior social skills on this day. There was one way out and nobody wanted to get put on the "no fly" list. Eventually there were four or five birds in the air at any time, flying a dramatic loop from BC to Camp One to BC. A line of climbers with packs formed at each pad and a stream of climbers from Camp 2 made their way into what was left of Camp 1 and then joined the queues. It took four laps in Kiwi pilot Jason's B3 to get our team down. Although it seemed already like a full day, it was only about 9:30 AM when Chhering and I got off the final RMI chopper. There was no back-slapping. No cheering. No high fives. We'd put down at the epicenter of a disaster and we could barely believe our eyes. Whatever relief each of us felt at being off the mountain was quickly replaced with sadness and awe at the destructive power on evidence all around us. Hearing on the radio about the quake triggered Avalanche that blasted BC did nothing to prepare us for experiencing the aftermath first hand. It was as if an enormous bomb had detonated. We each walked slowly through the obliterated camps, stopping to understand how much force had bent this or that bit of steel. We finally understood the enormous death toll and the nature of the numerous injuries to the survivors. When we reached our own greatly altered camp and heard a few stories from neighbors, we finally understood Mark Tucker's heroism of the last few days, helping to stabilize and transport dozens upon dozens of seriously injured, bloody and broken people. He and our Sherpa team had gone immediately to help others, even though their own camp was largely destroyed. By now, we are not even mildly surprised to learn that they somehow found time and energy to rebuild camp for our arrival. Our "ordeal" seems trivial by comparison... we had to stay a bit longer in a beautiful and legendary hanging valley and deal with a bit of uncertainty. Now back down to earth... we understand just how lucky we've been and we are sad beyond words to learn how unlucky others have been. Best Regards, RMI Guide Dave Hahn
Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

It is beyond words the devastation, and yet I am so glad to hear you are safely down off the mountain and pray for a continued safe journey to you and the many others involved.  Thanks for communicating.

Posted by: michele on 4/29/2015 at 11:39 am

As Hemingway once said in defining a “hero”, it is one who shows Grace Under Pressure. You guys are all Heroes in my book. Have a safe trip home.

Posted by: John Hawkins on 4/28/2015 at 6:26 pm

Mountaineering Training | Reorienting Training in 2020

From RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer

This season brought about a different approach to training for me, as for so many of our guides and climbers. In a typical year, the summer guiding season counts for the vast majority of my “training” time. Multiple 12+ hour days a week in the mountains is a great way to build a deep aerobic base, and that leaves me free to fill in around workdays with activities that I enjoy (trail running, mountain biking, and ski touring top that list). While many of our climbers are training for a specific climb and many of our guides are counting those same climbs as training, the training principles between groups aren’t actually that different. Our climbers are trying to be at peak fitness for their climb to give themselves the best chance of reaching the summit, for guides the same training gives us the durability to do 10, 20, even 30 climbs a season without our bodies falling apart.

The cancellation of the climbing season this year necessitated a different approach for me. I count myself extremely lucky to live amongst Colorado’s Elk Mountains, with miles of trail running, mountain biking, ski touring, and peaks immediately accessible. With local trails one of the few outlets left to us this spring, I happily was putting in miles, finding new trails, and generally filling the aerobic base hole that the loss of the season brought. Just like everyone, I have my preferred activities, things that I count as training, but bring me personal joy as well. Ripping through swoopy single track on a mountain bike makes me grin, even if my heart is jumping out of my chest. Other activities aren’t so enjoyable, and they feel like training. I do them out of a sense of duty to the training plan, but I’m not smiling. Weight rooms top this list. I found as spring bled into summer, that I was putting a lot of time into the training activities that I liked, while totally dropping the ones I didn’t, and that was leaving a big hole in my fitness. I needed some structure.

Exercise is doing activities that stress the body and make our body work, while training is the programmed and strategic arrangement of patterns of exercise to increase performance and achieve a predetermined goal. It is difficult to put together a training plan if you do not have a goal. My goal became to build a base of specific strength and endurance to give me durability through the ski season, and I turned to our partners at Uphill Athlete for a 12-week Ski Mountaineering plan. Much of the plan involves activities that I enjoy: lots of trail running and some mountain biking for recovery workouts. There are also some twists that I usually don’t incorporate, but are fun: level 3 long interval workouts, and very short, all out hill sprints. There is also a strong focus on strength work, and though I struggle to be engaged by gyms, a different take on strength has actually been pretty fun and interesting. I’ve been doing a mixture of max strength, very low rep lifting work, as well as very high rep, very low weight muscular endurance work. Both are interesting in how the workout doesn’t necessarily feel taxing during, but for days after I find myself feeling the aftereffects. A bit sore, a bit depleted, but also seeing pretty quick improvements and results.

In Colorado, we got our first snow early, the last week of October. This kicks off the few weeks every year that feel awkward as an athlete. There is too much snow and mud on the trails to ride a mountain bike, but there isn’t enough snow to skin yet (my bar for this is pretty low, as skiing on grass still feels like skiing, but there isn’t enough even for me!). I went for a run up one of my favorite local mountain bike trails, and though the details of getting out the door were complicated (do I wear shorts because it’s in the 60s, or pants because I’ll be running through 4 or 5 inches of snow) I found a simple joy in picking my way through snow and mud and moving fast on foot on a trail that no one else seemed to be interested in taking.

I came back with renewed energy to train, running my local snowy, muddy trails until enough snow lands to allow me to ski. It has been a strange year to train, with gyms alternately open, closed, then open again, restrictions on our ability to get out and travel to our favorite places. I’d encourage everyone to set a training goal (or multiple), lean into what you can do, and blend the activities that leave you smiling with the others that are necessary to reach your goal.

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I too followed Uphill Athlete’s 12-week program and then some.  Never trained harder in my life.  Still unable to summit Rainier after a second attempt.  The fitness requirements to summit that mountain truly elude me.  I had a great time being up there, but when you put in the months of hard work and dedication and still come up short, it is monumentally frustrating.  Bottom line mountaineering is no joke, and it demands a level of fitness that despite targeted training and motivated commitment, I still have not achieved.  I have immense respect for those who seem to have cracked the code and have made their goals a reality.  I only wish I knew where I am going wrong.

Posted by: Jordan Cook on 7/6/2021 at 7:34 pm

Thank you for the insight and your schedule for training is inspiring. For me training begins with not only the physical endurance aspect, but really the mental. Learning that the best physical in shape climber doesn’t summit in many cases just because of their mental training isn’t in the right place.

I just love Ed Viesturs quote “Reaching the summit is optional - getting back down is mandatory.” That is mental conditioning and smart climbing at it’s finest! He is my role model.

Posted by: J Osborn on 11/29/2020 at 7:47 pm

Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 1

This is officially the first training week Fit To Climb and of your Mount Rainier adventure. Much like fastening up a coat, it’s really important to get the first button in the right hole, or no amount of effort at the other end is going to make the process successful! In physical training, a core foundational principle is to develop correct movement patterns, this so we can use our bodies efficiently while avoiding injury. The method we’ll use to practice this week is the Daily Dozen. (Download a description of the Daily Dozen here). During this first week of training, measure your success by performing the exercises with the greatest amount of skill possible. Consider how you’ll want to move on the mountain during your climb, moving over rocks covered in ice, wearing crampons and a heavy backpack, potentially in a snowstorm. At that point, you’ll want your foot to end up exactly where you want it, and you’ll want to have the strength and coordination to efficiently move your body upwards. The very first step toward getting there is to figure out how to move your body right. Therefore, do not worry about how many exercises you can do or how intensely you can do them; simply focus on the quality of movement and make a strong commitment to quality training during this week and for the weeks to follow. Fit to Climb: Week 1 Schedule
1 Daily Dozen (Crux Workout) 12 min. Recovery
2 30 Minute Hike 30 min. Medium
3 Daily Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
4 30 Minute Hike 30 min. Medium
5 Daily Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
6 1 Hour Hike 60 min. Medium
7 Rest - Recovery
  Total 2 hrs 36 mins  
- John Colver Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program. John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.
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This is so helpful, I am planning to go visit after this outbreak is control. Really missing trekking. These should be so helpful.

Posted by: Alice R. Birch on 9/6/2020 at 7:51 pm


The link to the Daily Dozen is the last word “here” of paragraph 2 at the top.

Busted not reading the introduction.


Posted by: Barry Reese on 12/17/2016 at 11:25 am

Mt. Everest Expedition: Dave Hahn Checks in from Camp one

Dave Hahn calling from Camp One on Mount Everest 20,000'. That was a day of waiting and watching for us. The weather improved a little bit, this morning it was sunny and clear. And couple of helicopter and courageous helicopter pilots made use of that time flying out from sick and hurt people from Camp Two to Camp One. But the big work that they did was trip after trip flying casualties out from Base Camp. We followed some of that on the radio. Our efforts to get our selves out of here, two of our Sherpa team Wingen and Sunam, made a valiant effort coming up from the bottom of the Ice Fall, to see how far they could get before the damage of the earth quake stopped them. They got about a third of the way. Additionally, we were part of supporting a team, coming down from the top trying to do the same thing. They probably got about a third of the way down, luckily both teams, got out safely. There was a massive aftershock this afternoon at about 1 o'clock local time. But it seemed almost as powerful as yesterdays quake. And we are worried, as everybody is, about putting people in the Ice Fall again. That is probably not going to be our exit plan. And now we are looking to helicopter out in the next day or two to get down to Base Camp. And that probably will be what we do, but the timing is still up to mother nature. If it keeps on snowing as it did this afternoon, and making flying impossible. But perhaps we'll keep you updated. We'll let you know how it goes. We are safe. We are in a good spot. And we are not in panic mode. Thank you. RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls in from Camp One with an update.

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi Dave! Praying for you and everyone else on Mount Everest and the people of Nepal.. Safe descent.

Posted by: Jean Tanner on 4/27/2015 at 9:27 pm

Where is the rest of the blog that was there a few days ago. It had a lot of detail that I would like to read again.

Posted by: Greg on 4/27/2015 at 7:27 am

Shishapangma: Team Climbs to Advanced Base Camp on Summit Push

Namaste from Depot Camp (ABC) at 6,000m!!! 2,000 to go... we're on the move! Day 1 of summit push brought us on the late afternoon to a frigid moraine camp which prompted the funny scene of everyone gathering for dinner in down suits over the rocky platforms of our tents... like an army of teletubbies. Much more talented, though, we didn't let the cold get to us and ventured early to the comfort of our tents, knowing that our move to Camp 1 tomorrow will be a bit more demanding than our hike today, basically a strategic move to shorten the distance between Base Camp and Camp 1 (by the way, these guys are ditching 1.20h from what it was taking on our first trip!) Despite having a strong team of Sherpa support, we decided to endure a one night of alpine style camping.... with our bags at Camp 1, we chose to all sleep in our down suits to avoid carrying our base camp bag, and have lighter move. At the moment, we're (at the guides' tent) listening to Liam Knoff's playlist, waiting for the early Tibetan night of the fall, to go into full sleepy time. Stay tuned for our progress uphill tomorrow. RMI Guides Elías, Adam, Robby and the RMI Shishapangma team!!!
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Colin, feel excited for you. Nice photo looks like you guys in Mars or the moon with snow

Posted by: Janet on 9/28/2016 at 1:02 am


Posted by: Carlos de Andres on 9/27/2016 at 11:38 pm

Mountaineering Training | Nutrition For Mountaineering Training

Mountain Climbing has a high requirement for energy. Quality nutrition is a key component of training success. In this conversation with Registered Dietician Sally Hara of Kirkland, Washington, I had a chance to ask some of the questions which often come up in training for mountaineeringJohn Colver: How much protein do I need? Sally Hara: Most athletes require 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1 kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds). Ultra-endurance athletes may require up to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is typically not difficult for an athlete to get if he or she is eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet and is responding appropriately to hunger cues. An ounce of meat, fish, poultry, or cheese contains about 7 grams of protein. Other good sources of protein are 1 to 2 tablespoons of nut butter, one egg, 1/4 cup cottage cheese, and 1/2 cup cooked legumes. A slice of bread, 1/3 cup of pasta or rice, or 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal can contain about 3 grams of protein each - check the nutritional label to be sure. JC: How much water should I drink? SH: The general recommendation for daily fluid intake is about 64 to 80 ounces per day. This includes all fluids consumed, not just water. When you factor in endurance exercise, an athlete’s fluid needs will increase. Although specific needs may vary depending on duration and intensity of the exercise, the ambient temperature and humidity, altitude, and individual differences between athletes, the following are general recommendations appropriate for most athletes. • 2 to 3 hours before exercise? Drink about 20 oz. water or sports drink • During exercise? Drink 6 to 12 oz. every 15 - 20 minutes • After exercise? At least 20 oz. after exercise, with continued regular hydration for the remainder of the day. Ideally, enough to replace water lost via sweat, urine, and respiration. Consume 24 oz. for every pound of body weight lost during exercise. *Source: ADA. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance, 2009 JC: How often should I eat during a normal day? SH: To optimize metabolism and both physiological and psychological performance (including mood, focus, and efficiency), I recommend eating every three to four hours. Serious athletes sometimes need to eat at least every two hours because of their high metabolism and energy needs. Spreading food intake throughout the day helps ensure that your brain and body will have enough energy to function properly during the day. Eating at regular intervals helps prevent overeating at the end of the day caused by extreme hunger. It seems paradoxical, but eating frequently can actually help regulate body weight better than skipping meals and snacks. If a person is in tune with their natural hunger and fullness signals, the best advice is simply to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Unfortunately, people who have a history of dieting often are disconnected from these signals because they have a history of ignoring them. If you are truly hungry, eat high-quality, nutrient-dense food. Hunger is a signal that your body is asking for more energy. Just respond to hunger with the most nutrient-dense food available. JC: How do I know when I’m getting the correct mix of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fat) to enable my best performance? SH: This is one issue a sports dietician can help you determine. Most athletes think they need much more protein than they actually do, and many vastly underestimate their need for carbohydrates. While protein is necessary to build and repair muscles and other tissues, carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for exercise (even for strength training). Protein is building material, carbohydrates are fuel. The more you work out, the more fuel you need. JC: Do I have to eat breakfast? SH: For optimal health and performance, yes. When we wake up in the morning, our glycogen stores are significantly depleted, because that is our primary energy source when we sleep. JC: What do you eat before a morning training session? SH: Usually a light but balanced meal or snack is best; something that contains mostly carbohydrate and a little protein for longer workouts is ideal. The size of the meal depends on the duration and intensity of the workout. Yogurt with granola or fruit can work well. Including a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates provides both an immediate energy source (simple carbs) and one that is digested more slowly, giving you more energy over time (complex carbs). An example of a meal that serves this purpose could be oatmeal with soymilk and raisins. JC: Should I eat before a workout? What can I eat and how soon before the workout? SH: Yes. I recommend a snack with carbohydrates (fruit, granola bar, smoothie, etc.) within two hours prior to exercise. If you will be training for over ninety minutes, it is also good to include a protein source (peanut butter, yogurt, meat, soy products, etc.) to help stabilize your blood sugar for a longer period of time. How close to your workout you eat depends on you. Some people can eat a three-course meal five minutes before intense exercise, while others can barely tolerate a small yogurt two hours before the workout. This is very individual. JC: What should I eat after a workout and how soon after? SH: The most important requirements for recovery are carbohydrates, fluids, and electrolytes. The perfect recovery snack is chocolate milk - it offers all of this plus a little protein. There are other options, of course, but the focus should be on carbs and hydration. A small amount of protein may also be helpful for post-exercise recovery, but the bulk of your post-exercise meal should be made up of carbohydrates. Remember to eat something within one hour after exercise to get a jump on replenishing your glycogen stores. JC: Should I take a multivitamin? SH: In theory, we should be able to get all of our vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. Even if there is a slightly higher nutritional need in endurance athletes, the increased amount of food necessary to meet energy demands should contain the additional vitamins and minerals needed as well. That said, not everyone has a perfect diet, so a basic multivitamin may not be a bad idea. There is no need to overspend on specialized vitamins, however. For instance, those little packets with four to six vitamin pills in them are mostly a marketing ploy. JC: I don’t eat fish - should I take fish oil supplements? SH: Fish oil supplements are an excellent idea. The omega-3 fatty acids in these supplements have multiple documented benefits, including cholesterol balance, anti-inflammatory effects, and mood stabilization. A good substitute for vegetarians would be flaxseed oil. JC: What type of beverage should go into my water bottle when I’m exercising - something with electrolytes? SH: For anyone exercising over sixty minutes, I recommend a sports drink containing both electrolytes and carbohydrates. Since you should be fueling as you go, this is a convenient way to take in the recommended carbohydrates. Alternatively, you could fill the bottle with an electrolyte-only drink and eat solid foods as an energy source. It really depends on the sport and whether or not you typically eat while training. Either way, fluids and electrolytes are both important to have in your sports bottle. JC: How does alcohol affect my performance? SH: It’s all about timing and moderation. Alcohol is a known diuretic and can lead to significant dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. If you have an occasional beer, rehydrate before turning in for the night and limit yourself to one to two drinks per day. Alcohol is a known toxin that can hinder liver functions, including the ability of the liver to produce blood sugar from glycogen (for fuel) during exercise. JC: How much fiber do I need? SH: The current recommendation is about 30 grams of fiber per day. Consuming whole grains most of the time and getting at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day will likely provide this amount of fiber easily. JC: What if I don’t have much time to cook? SH: This is a big problem in our society. Some strategies could include cooking once a week and freezing several meals that you can easily heat up later. One great tool for athletes is a slow cooker. You can chop meat, vegetables, and spices, put them in a slow cooker for eight hours, and you’ll have wonderful meals. Personally I enjoy curries, chilies, stews, soups, and even baked potatoes. It’s easy, safe (you can leave it on all day), inexpensive ($50 to $100), and nutrient dense, as the cooking method used does not leach vitamins or minerals, nor does it destroy nutrients with excessive heat. JC: For vegetarians, are there specific things to know about eating for athletic performance? SH: The basic needs for vegetarian athletes are the same as for other athletes. What differs is the source of some of the nutrients (especially protein, iron, B12 and calcium). A great resource for this is the book The Vegetarian’s Sports Nutrition Guide, by Lisa Dorfman, RD, CSSD. Vegetarians should pay particular attention to getting enough protein, but it’s not that difficult to do. The main sources of protein for vegetarians are legumes (such as dried beans, peas, and lentils), soy products, and (for non-vegans) milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. The good thing about vegetarian protein sources is that most also contain carbohydrates, which are an athlete’s best friend. Iron, one of the nutrients that all vegetarians must be aware of, is found abundantly in animal products but sparsely in plant products. Some good sources of iron for vegetarians include dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables. Iron absorption is increased by eating foods containing vitamin C together with iron-rich foods in the same meal. JC: If I am a vegetarian, how can I get enough vitamin B12? SH: Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can get B12 from dairy products and eggs. Vegans (who eat only plant products) need to supplement their diet with B12 either by including nutritional yeast, foods that have been fortified with it (like some soy milks), or by taking a B12 supplement. The recommended intake of B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms daily. Inadequate B12 can result in a condition called macrocytic anemia, in which you will be overly tired and have difficulty training and recovering from exercise. JC: How do I know if I’m getting enough iron? SH: Iron deficiencies are common in endurance athletes, especially runners. There is controversy over why this occurs. Iron plays a key role in transporting oxygen to the muscles. This increases the need for iron in endurance athletes. Athletes who overtrain will often develop iron-deficiency anemia despite consuming what should be adequate iron, because a body that is in a stressed state from overtraining makes the iron unavailable. If you have a history of iron deficiency (determined by simple blood tests your doctor can order), taking an iron supplement routinely is a good idea. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to examine your training and nutrition habits. Certainly, making sure to include iron-rich foods (especially red meat, which is very high in iron) is very important. - John Colver                    John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle.
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Mt. Everest Expedition: RMI Climbing Team Safe at Camp One

This is Dave Hahn with RMI's Everest Expedition. This morning, early this morning we got up from Camp 1, five climbers Jeff Justman, Chhering Dorji and myself. We completed a good circuit, climbing up to 21,300 feet Advance Base Camp and back to Camp 1. We were here about 11:30, 11:15 this morning. And then shortly after that, at about noon, there was a major earthquake and resulted in avalanches off of all the mountains around us. Our camp was in a good place we got dusted but here at Camp 1 we were just fine. Our concern then shifted to Base Camp. We are hearing reports of some pretty destructive action down there, injuries and loss of life. Our entire team is ok. We have talked with our Sherpa team down below and with Mark Tucker [at Base Camp]. And so our team is okay. About the same time as the earthquake a pretty good snowstorm commenced up here in the Western Cwm and down at Base Camp. We're sitting things out safely at Camp One. But we don't have the ability to travel right now, good mountaineering sense dictates that we stay put and ride this storm out. This may take a little time to ride the storm out and that's what we'll do. It may take this a little time but we are okay. We are self sufficient up here and our concern is with our friends at Base Camp. We're hearing the strenuous efforts that our Sherpa team and Mark Tucker are going through down there trying to help with the injured and those who haven't fared so well. We'll try to be in touch. We obviously are in a situation where we won't have great communication. It's likely that the earthquake destroyed any cell service around the Base Camp area. We are calling you on a satellite telephone, we got some batteries and we will nurse those batteries to make them last. RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls from Camp One with update on the RMI team.

On The Map

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Our family has been praying for Mark and all of you since the news broke.  Mark, you guided us up Kili in 2012 and I have no doubt were one of the best to deal with the tragedy you faced.  Continued prayers for your safe return.  Dennis

Posted by: Dennis Mulherin on 4/28/2015 at 4:42 am

JJ, glad to hear you are safe!  Worried when we heard the news.  We’re sad to hear about all the casualties, and our hearts are with everyone in Nepal!

Posted by: Leslie on 4/27/2015 at 11:02 am

Mountaineering Training | Moving Air: Breathing For Performance

To prepare for your next climb, you have spent hours upon hours training your muscular strength, your muscular endurance, and your cardiovascular fitness. How about your breathing? Your respiratory system gets benefit from all of your other training and doesn’t need specific focus, right? Studies of endurance athletes and performance indicate exactly the opposite! Your diaphragm is a group of muscles that do the work of inflating your lungs, bringing in oxygen and removing carbon dioxide, and just like any other muscle group in your body, they can be trained and toned to work more efficiently. Belly Breathing The key to more efficient breathing for performance is belly breathing. There is far more volume within the lower portions of the lungs (the belly) than there is in the upper portions (located in the chest), yet most people primarily use their chest to breath. When an athlete breathes mainly in their chest, they take in less oxygen with each breath, but as importantly, they also remove less carbon dioxide from their system. Carbon dioxide dissolves in the blood, and causes the pH of the blood to drop (acidification). Acidification of the blood is a major cause of muscle fatigue, thus removing carbon dioxide from your system is just as important as taking in oxygen to fuel your muscles. By belly breathing, more of the lungs’ volume is utilized both to take in oxygen, and to remove carbon dioxide, and an athlete’s performance increases to match. One study done by at the University of Arizona had 20 road cyclists do computer controlled deep breathing exercises for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks, to develop their diaphragm and intercostal muscles. At the end of the period, they did a simulated 40 km race. The control groups all showed no improvement in performance, while the test group road 5% faster. Imagine if your next climb felt 5% easier! Practice To train yourself to belly breath during exercise, start by doing some simple belly breathing practice while at rest. Try lying down and placing your hands, one on top of the other, on your stomach, just above your belly button. Inhale, trying to push your hands as high towards the ceiling as you can. Hold for a moment, then exhale fully, feeling your hands sink as far to the floor as you can. Feel as though your belly button is moving towards your spine, but don’t push with your hands; let the muscles of your diaphragm do the work. Inhale again pushing your hands as high as you can once more, and continue to repeat the process. With practice, this type of breathing will become more natural, and will begin to move into your exercise as well. You can practice the technique the next time you are sitting at your desk, or while sitting in the car on your next commute as well. With practice and training, the muscles of your lungs will tone just like the muscles in your legs and core do! The Pressure Breath If you are not familiar with the pressure breath, it is one of the most important efficiency techniques that we teach new climbers. Pressure breathing is a technique nearly all mountaineers use on high altitude mountains around the world, and is really just a derivative of the belly breath. Inhaling as fully as possible, the climber exhales with force, generally pursing their lips slightly so as to create a smaller aperture, as if they were trying to blow out a series of birthday candles. Essentially belly breathing with a forceful exhale, the pressure breath helps to improve gas exchange across the alveoli by increasing the pressure in the lungs. The pressure breath helps to combat the effects caused by decreasing atmospheric pressure as climbers gain altitude. The pressure breath is one of the most important techniques for climbing at altitude efficiently, but it requires a lot of work from the muscles of your lungs. By beginning to tone and train those muscles now, you will be better prepared to pressure breath your way up your next climb in style! Check out these few articles from the running and cycling world for more information and techniques to develop your belly breathing: Chris Burnham of Burnham coaching, Breathing for endurance athletes. And lastly, Endurance Training: surviving the tour. Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!
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While we haven’t read the book that this comes from, we urge caution with anything that claims to be a magic bullet to health, weight loss, performance, etc. From what I can tell in my research, there is some evidence that the author’s techniques are helpful for increasing some CO2 tolerance. This can have benefits for people such as divers, who are restricted in their ability to expel CO2. It doesn’t really apply to us in the mountains.

As far as breathing through the nose, this is something that is suggested by Uphill Athlete as a test to determine your Aerobic Threshold—the level of effort that you can exert while maintaining aerobic metabolism. Aerobic effort is where we spend a lot of our time training as well as climbing, as it’s the level that lets you for for very long periods of time (endurance). While Uphill Athlete recommends it as a test for that level, it correlates best for already well trained athletes, and they don’t suggest nose breathing all the time, more as an indicator.

All of that being said, once we are climbing and dealing with the altitude and reduced air pressure and oxygen uptake, pressure breathing is the proven technique with measurable results.

We hope this helps!

Posted by: RMI Team on 8/26/2020 at 1:28 pm


I’ve been using pressure breathing since I climbed Rainier with RMI many years ago.

Question:  what are your thoughts re: pressure breathing with all of the current information about breathing in the opposite manner (ie Oxygen Advantage, nose breathing 100% + relative shallow breathing, even in those who are involved in high exertion activity)

Thanks in advance for the info, Harry

Posted by: Harry on 8/26/2020 at 12:36 pm

Mountaineering Training | Answers to Common Questions from Fit To Climb

Below are some answers to help to common questions that we receive regarding the Adventx Fit To Climb Program: How do I complete the Stair Intervals? First, find a set of stairs. They can be outdoors, indoors, at a stadium or even a stairmaster or eliptical trainer at the gym. Warm up with steady walking for 10 - 15 minutes. Then make repeated high intensity efforts - about 2 minutes is a good length of time (this may mean two or more flights/sets if your stairs are short). In between efforts, rest for 2 - 3 minutes until you can breathe comfortably before starting again. If you are new to interval training, start with 3 or 4 efforts. Don't worry about your performance level today as you'll see gains as the weeks progress. The 40 minutes is an average time frame, the amount of time it will actually take you depends on the number of efforts you put in. Be sure to allow 10 minutes to cool down at an easy pace. What is a Turkish Get Up (from the Rainier Dozen)? Steve Cotter offers a great instructional video on the Turkish Get Up using a variation I find very helpful for climbers in building strength for the big steps often found on climbs. Using a kettle ball or additional weight, as demonstrated in the video, is optional depending on how challenging this exercise is for you. See the video below. Be sure to complete the exercise on both your left and right sides. How do I complete the Timed Run? The Timed Run (or walk) is a benchmark that allow you to see progress over the sixteen weeks. When not setting benchmarks, it's easy to 'feel' fitter, or even less fit, at times. The Timed Run is a timed effort over a short distance that allows you to see tangible gains. You can choose your actual distance, I suggest about 1 mile, four circuits of an athletic field or the perimeter of a city park - but it can be any moderate distance that you choose and can follow again over the coming weeks. The Timed Run also acts as an improvement target, providing focus for this workout. What is the Fitness Test all about? In Fit To Climb we'll do the test every four weeks to act as a measurement of overall fitness as well as specific core muscle endurance and agility. The repeated test is designed to show progress and these sessions should also be fun. Be sure to record your results from this week's test and we can compare them to the results of the next test. As with all training, there should be an emphasis on safety and self care. Push your limits but don't place undue stress or strain on your body. Rather than go all out, try to nudge your results forward in a controlled and sensible way, much like a successful mountain climb. I don’t have the time or the right terrain to fit in all of the training! There is no doubt about it, the Fit To Climb Program is a demanding training routine and asks for a significant investment of time. Additionally, ideal training takes place on terrain that can replicate the demands of the mountains. Finding both the time and the terrain to fit in all of your training is a difficult task. Check out our Time and Terrain Tips for Mountaineering Training, a collection of ideas, suggestions, and tips that our guides and climbers have used over the years to get the most out of your training. Be creative with the time and terrain you have available! Additionally, consider alternate activities like cycling to get your workouts in, see Cycling for Mountaineering Training for more ideas. -John Colver John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program. Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts with John and other readers on the RMI Blog! You can read the past Weekly Mountaineering Training Series on the RMI Blog.
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Regarding the stair climbing interval training, would it be acceptable to use a steep hill as a substitute for stairs? Where I live there are several nice long steep hills that would be perfect for running, but no long flights of stairs.

Posted by: Rob on 3/6/2018 at 7:37 am

Any specific exercises you would recommend for the strength circuit training? I have an elliptical at home but no weight set to use. Are there some weight-free or gym-free strength circuits I can use as supplement?


Posted by: Greg Duncan on 1/12/2016 at 8:34 am

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