Training for a Trek at Altitude
A view of Mt. Harvard (14,421') from the south.
Your preparation for climbing a 14er should start well in advance (at least 8 weeks) of the trek to help enhance your enjoyment of, and safety throughout, the experience.
The Mt. Harvard trek is 14 miles round trip with an elevation gain of over 4,600' and begins at the North Cottonwood Trail trailhead at 9,800'.
There are several things you can do to make your trip up a 14er (a mountain that meets or exceeds 14,000 feet) both successful and enjoyable. Being hydrated and fueled, pacing yourself correctly, and having proper training and equipment are essential. When preparing to tackle a 14er, the most essential training aspects to focus on are cardiovascular endurance, strength and stability, and flexibility. (REI)
Ideas for training in preparation for climbing a 14er:
Train for hiking REI - Videos for Training for Hiking
Train for backpacking REI - Videos for Training for Backpacking
Train for 14er REI Training Schedule for Climbing at 14er
(With thanks to Flip Koch AB '78)
Always consult a medical practitioner before undertaking this type of exercise.
|Cardio||Intervals, 30-45 minutes||Steady-state Cardio, 45-90 minutes||Intervals, 30-45 minutes||Steady-state Cardio, 45-90 minutes||Intervals, 30-45 minutes||Bonus Steady-state Cardio, 45-90 minutes; OR hike with a vertical gain and pack||Active Recovery|
|Strength||Full body, 3 sets of each exercise||None||Full body, 3 sets of each exercise||None||Full body, 3 sets of each exercise||None||None|
|Flexibility||Stretches for major muscle groups||Stretches for major muscle groups||Stretches for major muscle groups||Stretches for major muscle groups||Stretches for major muscle groups||Stretches for major muscle groups||Stretches for major muscle groups|
Cardio Training for Climbing 14ers
The cardiovascular training component of this program focuses on maximizing your ability to use oxygen. That’s because as you gain elevation, atmospheric pressure decreases, which means you aren’t able to get the same amount of oxygen into your lungs as you would at lower elevations. People can start feeling the effects of altitude at elevations as low as 5,000 feet.
Steady-State Cardio Training
Moderate-intensity steady-state cardio improves your cardiac output by increasing the volume of blood your heart pumps with each beat. Your cardiac-output days should include 45 to 90 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity cardio activity such as swimming, biking, jogging or rowing. You should work at a comfortable pace, but hard enough to make you break a sweat.
Throughout your training, be sure to include some training hikes to elevation, as well:
|Distance||Pack Weight||Elevation Gain|
|Training Hike #1||6-8 miles||20-30 pounds||
|Training Hike #2||6-8 miles||20-30 pounds||2,000-3,000 feet|
|Training Hike #3||7-9 miles||20-40 pounds||2,000-3,000 feet|
|Training Hike #4||7-9 miles||20-40 pounds||3,000-4,000 feet|
|Training Hike #5||8-10 miles||20-40 pounds||3,500-5,000 feet|
|Training Hike #6||6-8 miles||40+ pounds||3,500-5,000 feet|
|Training Hike #7||7-9 miles||30-40 pounds||3,000-4,000 feet|