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Backpacker Magazine – October 2005

Mountaineering Fitness: Climb Like Ed

Got summit fever? The sky's the limit with a fitness plan and climbing tips from world-class mountaineer Ed Viesturs.

by: Rob Lamme

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Choose A Good Partner

When Viesturs reached the top of Annapurna, Finnish mountaineer Veikka Gustafsson was at his side. The longtime partners depend on each other for everything-even body heat. At night, the men curl up under a custom down comforter, a system that saves them 6 pounds. Spooning may be too ultralight for you, but the point holds: A companion can make or break your trip. Having comparable skills is crucial, but Viesturs also says the following qualities really matter.

SIMILAR FITNESS LEVEL "It's frustrating to be with someone who hasn't trained and can't keep up," he warns.

EQUAL COMMITMENT A good partner won't bail at the last minute. To test commitment, take several short trips with a prospective partner before signing on to something big.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS "Before a trip, talk about how you'll handle contigencies," advises Viesturs. If one climber decides conditions are too dicey, will both of you turn around? Establish the rules before your trip.

SENSE OF HUMOR Picture this: Two men stuck in a tent, one with, er, digestive troubles. Find a partner who can laugh at challenges (preferably one with a strong stomach).

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star


Star Star Star Star Star
Sep 29, 2013

Climbing to a mountain is a big deal..I think its so difficult to climb to a pick of the Ed gives some step about what to do..thanks these are useful


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Mar 23, 2010

Good advice, however in terms of squatting without letting your knee go past your toe. Go up to a wall, stick your toes against it. Then squat down and see if you can keep your knees from hitting the wall. Its not known where this 'concern' came from but don't let it concern you if you knees go past your toes ... it happens all the time. :)

Eric Nelson
Mar 16, 2010

I know it is boring, but my gym (Ballys) is only 1.5 miles away so I use it often. My favorite cardio workout is a treadmill at 15% grade with 30 pounds on my back (Atmos 65 with towels and rocks) hiking 2.5 to 3.0 mph. My HR stays around 140 which is just right for my 47 year old body. I measured my max one time and found it to be about 10 bpm hihger than the formula. At this pace I travel about 2500 to 3000 vertical feet per hour.

A Martin
Jan 06, 2010

Thanks to Steve Parker for his brilliant posting. Just a small spelling correction: your specific foot complaint is called plantar fasciitis, and the area involved is the plantar fascia.

To Greg Salvo: The EXERCISE listed in the article where you don't extend your knee over your toes is a BALANCE IMPROVING EXERCISE. It's not a technique for hiking or climbing, it's an EXERCISE to improve your ability to participate in and successfully carry out those activities.

Excellent and helpful article! Thanks

Steve Parker
Dec 29, 2009

It's like the old adage -- "Anything you do is better than nothing at all".

A few years back, at 53, I thought my hiking days were nearly over. I had a bad case of plantar faceitous (inflammation of the tendons on the bottom of the feet) and a great deal of pain in my knees, hips, and lower back. In addition, my energy level was starting to wain; I felt like I had mud in my veins. I started analyzing everything and made changes to remedy the weaknesses.

The analysis yielded the following:
1) I was carrying too much body weight, and this was something I could control. I researched what kind of calorie budget would sustain me at my optimum weight, then planned a diet that would make me run a 500 calorie per day deficit until I reached the optimum weight. A 3500 calorie per week deficit would mean one pound of weight loss, and I have sustained this for seven months. In addition, I balanced my vitamins by eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, and paid attention to anti-oxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids. When eating meat, I would use leaner cuts (though tougher, these are lower in fat, can be softened up by marinating, and happily, are less expensive). To date I have lost about twenty five pounds, in the process increasing my energy level. I also drink lots of water.

2) I studied my shoes and spent what I needed to spend to get shoes that were tortionally stable, had good moisture control, and fit well in the heels and toes. I got cortisone shots to reduce the inflammation in the plantar faces, and did toe raises and stretches to strengthen the tendons in the bottom of my feet. I also made sure that my feet pointed straight ahead when I walked so that I wouldn't strain my hips, knees and ankles. I used good wicking socks with bands at the instep and heel to add additional support and moisture control. I stopped using fanny backs for day hikes; these were bad for my lower back and hips.

3) I did exercise that was sustainable -- brisk walking. I walk five miles per day, and on weekends I try to do something with some vertical involved. I have done this for seven months with noticeable results. I will now be adding core strengthening and running to move up to the next fitness level. I plan also to add swimming to increase my oxygen carrying capacity.

4) A dangerously bad performance on a climb in bad weather sent me to the doctor for a physical. Blood work with the physical indicated that I had an under active thyroid which required a prescription. The medication has helped reinstate my energy level and led to better control of my weight. Higher energy and fitness levels have made me a more dependable hiking partner (I think).

Lil Jimmy
Dec 29, 2009

^^^ Greg can't climb a flight of stairs without tripping over his ego

Greg Salvo
Apr 24, 2009

I'll bet you a lifetime subscription to your magazine that Ed Viesturs can't climb a flight of stairs without his knee extending over his toes on his standing leg. No one can, why do we limit our training with this "tip".


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