Mt Shuksan Climb – Fitness
What are the physical requirements to climb the peaks of the Northwest?
Prior climbing experience is beneficial. Basic snow and ice climbing skills are introduced during the program. Above average physical conditioning is required for most climbs in the Pacific Northwest. No high altitude experience is required.
Mount Rainier is physically demanding, and your ability to enjoy this adventure depends on your overall health and fitness. Many consider Mount Rainer the toughest endurance climb in the lower 48 states. A typical day includes eight to twelve hours of climbing with over 4,000 feet of elevation gain.
We suggest you begin your training program at least four months prior to departure depending on your current conditioning. Walking up steep hills and stair climbing are both excellent ways to condition your lower body. Begin slowly, without the weight of a pack, eventually adding weight as you increase your training pace. In order to condition yourself to carry the weight, it will be important to take long hikes (4-6 hours) with a weighted pack at least one or two times a week. The best training for mountaineering is to carry a loaded pack up and down hills or small mountains. Hike uphill without breaks for at least an hour at a time when possible. Then break 10-15 minutes at the most and then continue hiking uphill for at least another hour. Do this as much and as often as you can. This is certainly not the only way to train but is probably one of the best ways to train for climbing big mountains. Don’t worry about your pace, this will increase over time, instead hike uphill slower if needed without taking as many breaks. Work at maintaining an even respiratory rate.
Unfortunately many of you don’t live near good hills or mountains so then you will need to find another activity that will help increase your endurance. Supplement this with running, cycling, swimming, racquet sports, weight training, etc. for additional aerobic conditioning your heart and lungs. Any time spent at altitude will also prove beneficial. Remember mountain climbing is an activity where you slowly climb uphill over long periods of time while carrying heavy to a moderate amount of weight.