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Getting in Shape to climb Mt. Whitney

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Getting in Shape to climb Mt. Whitney

Postby nancybloomfield » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:36 pm

Last year I made it to 14,000 feet and then had to turn back and let my spouse summit alone.
I got altitude sickness along with feeling weak.
Does anyone have suggestions for a 59 year old women to get in shape to summit Mt. Whitney? Right now I am doing the Biggest Loser Boot Camp workout and running 4 miles 2 times a week. Whenever I get a chance I carry 20 lbs. in my back pack and hike hilly terrain.
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Postby Day Hiker » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:48 pm

The workout is important, as it will help your strength, but it will not prevent problems at altitude. For that, your best bet is to spend some time up high in the couple weeks before the hike.
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Postby surgent » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:58 pm

You made it to 14K, which is a good start.

You may have also been dehydrated. Dehydration can be insidious at high altitudes because of the dry air, winds, and the mind not actively being "aware" that more liquid should be coming in. You may not even feel thirsty. This can exacerbate feelings related to altitude sickness.

This is along with extra nights up high, as mentioned by previous poster.
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Postby highlandvillager » Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:00 pm

Day Hiker wrote:The workout is important, as it will help your strength, but it will not prevent problems at altitude. For that, your best bet is to spend some time up high in the couple weeks before the hike.


Yes, acclimation is the best way to prevent altitude sickness. If you can't stay at a moderately high altitude for a few days before your summit day, at least do an acclimation hike or two to 9-11000 in the day or two before you summit. Coming from near sea level, we hiked up to about 9500 the first day, then stayed in Lone Pine (@ 4000) overnight. The next day, we hiked to Upper Boyscout Lake (11000+), then summited the following day. I felt way better than when I've gone straight to 14k the day after leaving sea level.
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Postby JHH60 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:38 pm

In addition to spending a day or two at altitude and staying hydrated, another thing you may find helpful is to remember to eat. The first time I hiked the main trail on Whitney, which I did as a dayhike, I found myself between trail crest and the summit (probably where you pooped out), dizzy, completely out of energy and almost unable to put one leg in front of the other. I was about to turn back when I realized I hadn't eaten anything in hours. Even though I felt nauseous and not hungry, I forced down a Power Bar, and in a few minutes the nausea went away and I started to feel my energy coming back, and I made it to the summit. The trick is to find something you find palatable at altitude, ideally something like dried fruit, Power Bars, Clif Shots, Gu,... that have easily digested sugars for quick energy, and remember to eat it regularly during the climb, even if you don't feel especially hungry. Don't worry about your diet if you're on one; you'll burn thousands of extra calories hiking to the summit.
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Postby bird » Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:53 pm

Altitude is one thing and the suggestions are good, take it slow, eat, drink, etc.
For getting in shape, try adding in some weightlifting. Take it slow and build up. The stronger you get, the better you'll feel. Find a great trainer (they are hard to find, but they exist), stay off the weight machines, they are very inefficient.
Find a trainer who believes in something like this... http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/ ... r_Programs
Notice there are no weight amounts recommended. Start with a broomstick if needed.
You can also see if there is a crossfit affiliate near you (c'mon everyone...you knew it was coming ;-)
If you are already investing time to get fit, you might as well get the most bang for your buck.
When are you attempting Whitney next?
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Whitney

Postby garythenuke » Sat Aug 28, 2010 3:24 pm

Water and altitude are the two biggies for sure. My brother-in-law and I did it several years ago all in one day. We waited in line at the Lone Pine ranger station for a day permit, drove to the trailhead, made it to the top and back to the car right before dark. The last quarter mile of the trail we really could have used head lamps.

Here's the catch, though. We had spent almost the whole previous week in Mammoth running around the mountain. We also took lots of water and a filter and forced water into our guts at every opportunity.

In terms of training, in my opinion, cycling is much better than running for mountain hiking. Unless you can find a hilly area to hike (or crank your treadmill up to the max), see if you can get onto a bicycle.

Good luck :)
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Postby sneakyracer » Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:48 am

Try cycling. I find it the best training for sustained efforts at higher altitudes. It's low impact so you body gets less abuse but your cardiovascular system will improve greatly. Work your way up to long rides. Since you have to eat and drink on long rides you get your body conditioned to eat and drink even with a high heart rate. Very helpful when climbing in high altitudes.
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Postby Ze » Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:00 pm

bird wrote:For getting in shape, try adding in some weightlifting. Take it slow and build up. The stronger you get, the better you'll feel.


why? I love weight training but it's certainly not imperative for hiking


bird wrote: Find a great trainer (they are hard to find, but they exist), stay off the weight machines, they are very inefficient.


inefficent how? as in they make you burn too many calories, don't stimulate muscle growth?

please tell me how one must be doing free weights or body weight exercises for "functional" hiking training...


bird wrote:You can also see if there is a crossfit affiliate near you (c'mon everyone...you knew it was coming ;-)
If you are already investing time to get fit, you might as well get the most bang for your buck.


but you won't actually get the most bang for you $$$, because you can certainly get well rounded training (and better cardio vascular training) without crossfit.
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Re: Getting in Shape to climb Mt. Whitney

Postby Ze » Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:04 pm

nancybloomfield wrote:Last year I made it to 14,000 feet and then had to turn back and let my spouse summit alone.
I got altitude sickness along with feeling weak.
Does anyone have suggestions for a 59 year old women to get in shape to summit Mt. Whitney? Right now I am doing the Biggest Loser Boot Camp workout and running 4 miles 2 times a week. Whenever I get a chance I carry 20 lbs. in my back pack and hike hilly terrain.


Hi, your post reminded me to write something up I wanted to for a while. I don't know if its useful, basically you need to make sure you have carb loaded because you will use them disproportionately quickly at altitude (which will help make you feel fatigued). Cardio vascular training can improve this.

But like others I think the main issue is acclimitization - either camp out halfway up, or do a hike at a high altitude the day before (perhaps around Horshoe Meadows).

Also, the less bodyweight + backpack weight you can carry up the better, as it will reduce overall workload and make it seem easier.
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Postby bird » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:47 pm

Ze wrote:
bird wrote:For getting in shape, try adding in some weightlifting. Take it slow and build up. The stronger you get, the better you'll feel.


why? I love weight training but it's certainly not imperative for hiking


bird wrote: Find a great trainer (they are hard to find, but they exist), stay off the weight machines, they are very inefficient.


inefficent how? as in they make you burn too many calories, don't stimulate muscle growth?

please tell me how one must be doing free weights or body weight exercises for "functional" hiking training...


bird wrote:You can also see if there is a crossfit affiliate near you (c'mon everyone...you knew it was coming ;-)
If you are already investing time to get fit, you might as well get the most bang for your buck.


but you won't actually get the most bang for you $$$, because you can certainly get well rounded training (and better cardio vascular training) without crossfit.

Ze
Nice of you to make up things to debate about.
1) Did I say that weight training is "imperative"? No I did not. Is it helpful for hiking and general physical preparedness. Yes.
2) Inefficient in that time spent on a muscle isolating weight machine is less efficient than a free weight based exercise that works multiple muscles at once. Here's a simple article
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/g ... -functions
3) Again, I don't use the word "must", I am making suggestions based on my own successful experience and the path laid by luminaries such as Mark Twight, and Rob Shaul. See article above or countless others on the benefits of functional fitness. Try this website www.lmgtfy.com
The last statement is your opinion only. In no way do I suggest only following crossfit, just incorporating it into a training routine. And in my opinion, it is an invaluable element for an all around fitness program. I was also speaking more figuratively about "bang" meaning time, effort, etc, not literally.
If all you wanted to do was hike, and be the best hiker ever, then you should probably hike all the time. If you want to be in good all around shape, be able to lift your partners 50 lb pack and throw it in the trunk, carry cases of cat food and put them on a high shelf, and hike Mt. Whitney and feel great, then a program that includes running, hiking and functional fitness such as crossfit is a good idea. The biggest loser stuff is better than nothing, but I think even you will agree, not the best out there.
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Postby Alpinisto » Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:54 pm

bird wrote:If you want to be in good all around shape, be able to lift your partners 50 lb pack and throw it in the trunk, carry cases of cat food and put them on a high shelf, and hike Mt. Whitney and feel great, then a program that includes running, hiking and functional fitness such as crossfit is a good idea.


Cases of cat food? Harumph.

Try tossing round 100lb sacks of LlamaChow(tm)...


:lol:
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Postby Ze » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:00 pm

bird wrote:Nice of you to make up things to debate about.
1) Did I say that weight training is "imperative"? No I did not. Is it helpful for hiking and general physical preparedness. Yes.
2) Inefficient in that time spent on a muscle isolating weight machine is less efficient than a free weight based exercise that works multiple muscles at once. Here's a simple article
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/g ... -functions
3) Again, I don't use the word "must", I am making suggestions based on my own successful experience and the path laid by luminaries such as Mark Twight, and Rob Shaul. See article above or countless others on the benefits of functional fitness. Try this website www.lmgtfy.com
The last statement is your opinion only. In no way do I suggest only following crossfit, just incorporating it into a training routine. And in my opinion, it is an invaluable element for an all around fitness program. I was also speaking more figuratively about "bang" meaning time, effort, etc, not literally.
If all you wanted to do was hike, and be the best hiker ever, then you should probably hike all the time. If you want to be in good all around shape, be able to lift your partners 50 lb pack and throw it in the trunk, carry cases of cat food and put them on a high shelf, and hike Mt. Whitney and feel great, then a program that includes running, hiking and functional fitness such as crossfit is a good idea. The biggest loser stuff is better than nothing, but I think even you will agree, not the best out there.


#1: No it is not that important to hiking and especially has nothing to do with the OP's question about summiting Mt. Whitney. Hiking will generate the required muscle strength and coordination for hiking.

#2: Of course there is benefit to bodyweight / balance exercises. But machines are a great way for beginners to start. And they can do multijoint motions, developed muscle mass and some coordination. And psychologically much better for people starting training as they are less intimidated. Any "good" trainer would know that.

#3: Again, nothing you are saying has any real benefit to the OP's questioning of summiting Whitney, which makes it seem like a freaking advertisement and that's why I'm attacking it.

If you want to be in good all around shape, there are many programs that work. Crossfit is one of them. Oh wait, except for the whole endurance cardio thing, but I'm sure they've modified that by now.

Anyways, Crossfit is a program that works, like some others...but high intensity interval training is not pertinent to summiting Whitney.

for real education on exercise physiology, this is a great website.
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Postby bird » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:28 am

Ze wrote:
bird wrote:Nice of you to make up things to debate about.
1) Did I say that weight training is "imperative"? No I did not. Is it helpful for hiking and general physical preparedness. Yes.
2) Inefficient in that time spent on a muscle isolating weight machine is less efficient than a free weight based exercise that works multiple muscles at once. Here's a simple article
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/g ... -functions
3) Again, I don't use the word "must", I am making suggestions based on my own successful experience and the path laid by luminaries such as Mark Twight, and Rob Shaul. See article above or countless others on the benefits of functional fitness. Try this website www.lmgtfy.com
The last statement is your opinion only. In no way do I suggest only following crossfit, just incorporating it into a training routine. And in my opinion, it is an invaluable element for an all around fitness program. I was also speaking more figuratively about "bang" meaning time, effort, etc, not literally.
If all you wanted to do was hike, and be the best hiker ever, then you should probably hike all the time. If you want to be in good all around shape, be able to lift your partners 50 lb pack and throw it in the trunk, carry cases of cat food and put them on a high shelf, and hike Mt. Whitney and feel great, then a program that includes running, hiking and functional fitness such as crossfit is a good idea. The biggest loser stuff is better than nothing, but I think even you will agree, not the best out there.


#1: No it is not that important to hiking and especially has nothing to do with the OP's question about summiting Mt. Whitney. Hiking will generate the required muscle strength and coordination for hiking.

#2: Of course there is benefit to bodyweight / balance exercises. But machines are a great way for beginners to start. And they can do multijoint motions, developed muscle mass and some coordination. And psychologically much better for people starting training as they are less intimidated. Any "good" trainer would know that.

#3: Again, nothing you are saying has any real benefit to the OP's questioning of summiting Whitney, which makes it seem like a freaking advertisement and that's why I'm attacking it.

If you want to be in good all around shape, there are many programs that work. Crossfit is one of them. Oh wait, except for the whole endurance cardio thing, but I'm sure they've modified that by now.

Anyways, Crossfit is a program that works, like some others...but high intensity interval training is not pertinent to summiting Whitney.

for real education on exercise physiology, this is a great website.

#1 I disagree 100%, if the OP adds some (try not to read carefully...some) weight training and adds strength, I believe it will help her get to the top of Whitney (as do many other people, Twight, Shaul, etc)
#2 Again, I disagree, what makes a machine less intimidating? A good trainer can certainly make a broomstick, body bar, or empty barbell pretty non-intimidating.
#3 An advertisement? I have nothing to gain by recommending CF...I just find it very beneficial. Are you advertising bodyrecomposition.com? Which by the way has some great stuff in it. I see they are proponents of 5x5 for weightlifting, which is used by CF, and the site refers to Greg Everett, who has a long history with CF.
Anyways, CF is more than high intensity interval training, and HIIT is pertinent (as one part of a program), especially when training time is limited http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 123639.htm or http://www.naturalnews.com/028851_inter ... rcise.html as just a few examples. I am not saying this is the only way to train...but a great addition to an all around program.
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Postby MoapaPk » Tue Aug 31, 2010 2:01 am

I'm guessing the OP lives where it is impractical to visit altitudes > 10000' several times a week before the trip.

MDs have told me that the "sleeping at altitude" takes several nights; else the "benefit" is just psychological. If you can spare the time, go to Horseshoe Meadows (off the road S of Whitney), and camp there for at least 2 nights prior to your Whitney ascent day. The Meadows are at ~10000', and are usually not too crowded in the middle of the week. The second day there, do a modest climb, as of Trail Peak.

I've never had altitude sickness, and have "done" several 14ers directly after a night in Lone Pine at 4000'. But people differ widely.

At one time, one was advised to take prophylactic ibuprofen by 10000' on the day of the climb.

I've never done anything to prepare for the Sierra, beside keeping in good general condition. Typically I run and/or use the elliptical trainer, set at high incline. Fortunately, I live in an area where I can be at a trailhead for a ~12000 peak within 45 minutes, so it isn't hard to get altitude conditioning the week before.

Other than that, my advice is: take your time, and never push it to the point where your muscles feel exhausted. Force yourself to breathe hard. Rest and drink a lot. If you don't want to carry that much water, you can probably get water from streams on the switchbacks, and treat it with ClO2. Pack light, but choose your gear wisely. Cache water if you must.

I would never go up the Whitney Trail as anything other than a day hike.
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