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Training for a Newbie

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Training for a Newbie

Postby JimJones235 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:28 pm

Good afternoon,

I couldn't find a good intro thread to post in so here we are.

First, I currently live in central New Jersey and go to the gym 3x a week doing weight training and run on the treadmill. Most of my previous experience with climbing is bouldering and in regards to high climates I lived in Boone, NC(around 3k ft/1km up).

My ultimate goal is to make an attempt on the Matterhorn in 2012. RIght now my plan is to make an attempt on Mt Washington next February and Grand Teton next August and(assuming that the first two work out well) an attempt on the Matterhorn. I am planning to use a guide for all three rocks(going with Eastern Mountain Sports climbing school for Washington and Exum for Teton).

In regards to training for the Matterhorn I've read everything from "Be able to run a lot" to "OMG you must be able to climb skyscrapers with your pinky finger!" As right now it looks like an attempt on the Matterhorn will cost me just over $6000 USD I'd like to hear a little more from people who have done it.

First, in the continental US, are Washington and Teton good preparation rocks for the Matterhorn? If not, what do you think are some good ones(if you have good ideas in the eastern US, even better!)? What are some good training methods if you don't live within a stone's throw of big rocks? Are there any FAQs you'd recommend?
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby ExcitableBoy » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:33 pm

Here is a good trip report that I found very informative. http://www.summitpost.org/my-experience ... orn/450263 The author is a friend of mine and I can give you his email if you want to speak with him.

As for training, jogging on a treadmill and lifting a weights might get you fit enough. Maybe throw in some stair machine workouts and put a pack on and go for a hike on the weekends in the 'Daks or wherever the closest hills are. I would also find a climbing gym and start doing more rock climbing and take an ice climbing course in the NE as well. Here is a good Web site with a lot of information on training specifically for climbing: www.BodyResults.com. The Tetons are a granitic mountain range and the rock is typically quite good. The Matterhorn is limestone and from everything I have read is generally rotten. Grand Teton is a fine mountain and will give you a taste of alpine climbing, but I think the Matterhorn is a more serious proposition all the way around.
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby radson » Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:32 am

My wife and I were guided up the Hornli ridge last year. We acclimatised a week prior to the climb by climbing quite a few of the local AD ridge traverses and also walked up Mt Blanc.

I must admit because I heard so many bad things about the matterhorn experience I had low expectations, so we ended up having a lot of fun. Yes the hut was crowded, but we found that after the first 2 hours, we had passed most people and had a fun climb. The local swiss guides by agreement are first out of the gate and then all the rest of us followed.

Many guides like their clients to take 4-5 hours to get the top. This is climbing at a reasonable 400-500m/hour. After about 2 hours you should have reached the solvay hut. You can use this as a guide to see how fast you climb on your training peaks. In my research, I found the best advice for climbing the Matterhorn at cosleyhouston.com.

Have fun
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby bird » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:16 pm

JimJones235 wrote:First, in the continental US, are Washington and Teton good preparation rocks for the Matterhorn? If not, what do you think are some good ones(if you have good ideas in the eastern US, even better!)? What are some good training methods if you don't live within a stone's throw of big rocks? Are there any FAQs you'd recommend?

Washington is a great place to start for Easterners. The Grand will also be great prep (and a fun experience). That being said, I haven't climbed the Matterhorn, but have climbed Mt Washington and The Grand...
There's a great article in the December Men's Journal about training. It mentions http://www.mtnathlete.com and Coach Rob's philosophy "Strength is King in the Mountains". I agree, it's worked well for me as a fellow flatlander (I live on the East End of Long Island).
Each peak you climb will give you good feedback how your training was leading up to it.
It really goes beyond the scope of a message board, but my advice would be learn about real strength training, as described in the Men's Journal article, summary here http://www.mensjournal.com/trainingprogram , then look at mountain athlete and their stuff, I'm also a fan of Crossfit.com for generally getting in shape, then work in some running, longer hikes on the weekends, etc.
Feel free to PM me for details.
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby welle » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:48 pm

Jim,
Get yourself to the Gunks ASAP. Exposure rivals of any big mountain's. As for physical fitness, you can get a lot of hiking done around NY/NJ - Catskills are a great place for steep difficult hikes. Haven't climbed Matterhorn, but climbed Mt. Washington and the Grand. IMO, any physically active individual can do them both without much training. Recovery is another story. The reason alpine climbers train hard is so they could move efficiently and recover quickly and climb more (several days in a row). So if you get yourself into a prime shape and get some roped-climbing dialed in by next August, you can hire a guide to climb more fun routes than OS or do couple of other climbs while in Jackson. Oh, and Mt. Washington in winter if conditions are perfect is cheating, IMO - walking on snocat-tracked fire road is a dream. Try going around now - with thin ice and crampons over the rocks - your knees will get that true taste of big mountain climbing.
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby JHH60 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:22 pm

You might consider taking a training class in Washington state, e.g., from one of the guide services like AAI or RMI, or from the Mountaineers, on Mt. Baker or Rainier. You'll spend your time focussing on skills like glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and intro to technical climbing on snow, rock, and ice. You will probably learn something about snow and rock climbing if you are guided up Mt. Washington and Grand Teton, but unless you are doing the climbs as part of a class, skills instruction will be a side benefit, not the primary goal. On the other hand if you do a 3, 6, or 12 day class, you may get a summit climb as part of the deal but the primary focus will be learning and practicing skills. The Pacific Northwest arguably has the best alpine training ground in the continental US as there are big snowy glaciated mountains and also good rock climbing.
Last edited by JHH60 on Sat Nov 13, 2010 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby paisajeroamericano » Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:55 pm

i don't know anything about the matterhorn (at least not the real one, i'm familiar with the ones in colorado and california) - nonetheless, i recommend hiking outside off-trail as much as possible, year-round - in my opinion, there are very few trails on the east coast (even including mt washington, mt mitchell, mt marcy, etc) that will adequately prepare you for big routes on big mountains - obviously, you should check out some of these larger east coast mountains as well and be comfortable climbing 3000-5000' in a day (on a trail) at locations such as those mentioned - but off trail hiking in moderate terrain (delaware water gap, mohonk, hawk mountain, etc) will help get you into real mountain shape as well as build skills in navigation and route-finding and make you comfortable in unpleasant weather and difficult terrain -
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby AdamsKerr » Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:01 am

everyone has pretty much said what i would have.

get off the treadmill for running though.
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby bird » Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:13 pm

paisajeroamericano wrote:in my opinion, there are very few trails on the east coast (even including mt washington, mt mitchell, mt marcy, etc) that will adequately prepare you for big routes on big mountains

Spoken like a true West Coaster...The Tuckerman Ravine trail on Mt. Washington has 4,300 feet of gain in 4.2 miles. The altitude is low, but there are few routes for "average" climbers that will have you doing more than that in a day. How much more prep than that do you need? (Rhetorical, I don't expect a reply).
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby AlexeyD » Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:37 pm

bird wrote:
paisajeroamericano wrote:in my opinion, there are very few trails on the east coast (even including mt washington, mt mitchell, mt marcy, etc) that will adequately prepare you for big routes on big mountains

Spoken like a true West Coaster...The Tuckerman Ravine trail on Mt. Washington has 4,300 feet of gain in 4.2 miles. The altitude is low, but there are few routes for "average" climbers that will have you doing more than that in a day. How much more prep than that do you need? (Rhetorical, I don't expect a reply).


I am sorry, but as a nearly lifelong East Coaster myself, I can't agree that the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is comparable to a big mountain. Altitude gain is not everything, otherwise you could climb the stairs of the Empire State Building 4 times and say it's the same thing as hiking Mt. Washington. While there are some similarities between the higher peaks in the northeast and bigger ranges (particularly when it comes to severe weather), overall it's just not the same. There are things such as glaciers, significant rockfall and icefall hazard, etc. that you fill simply not find in the Northeast, and no matter how many times you climb Mt. Washington, it's just no substitute for the real thing. I am not saying that one shouldn't use what they have out here to train and prepare in whatever way they can; I'm just saying that realizing that the bigger ranges ARE in fact more serious, committing, and pose a variety of challenges that are simply different, is a healthy attitude to have.
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby bird » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:06 am

AlexeyD wrote:I am sorry, but as a nearly lifelong East Coaster myself, I can't agree that the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is comparable to a big mountain. Altitude gain is not everything, otherwise you could climb the stairs of the Empire State Building 4 times and say it's the same thing as hiking Mt. Washington. While there are some similarities between the higher peaks in the northeast and bigger ranges (particularly when it comes to severe weather), overall it's just not the same. There are things such as glaciers, significant rockfall and icefall hazard, etc. that you fill simply not find in the Northeast, and no matter how many times you climb Mt. Washington, it's just no substitute for the real thing. I am not saying that one shouldn't use what they have out here to train and prepare in whatever way they can; I'm just saying that realizing that the bigger ranges ARE in fact more serious, committing, and pose a variety of challenges that are simply different, is a healthy attitude to have.

I didn't say or mean it was the same experience. I meant that from a pure physical training standpoint, 4,200 feet of gain with a pack will get you in pretty darn good shape, and let you evaluate your training. (Altitude is a different story, but for us east coasters...not much you can do.)
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby drpw » Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:47 am

just be tough. 90 percent of it really is just backpacking which really is just walking.
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby roylac » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:18 pm

I realize that this is probably not relevant for you anymore, but for others who are wondering about the same, that is, training and other preparations, you might want to check out http://roy.lachica.no/matterhorn/
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Re: Training for a Newbie

Postby mconnell » Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:52 am

bird wrote:
paisajeroamericano wrote:in my opinion, there are very few trails on the east coast (even including mt washington, mt mitchell, mt marcy, etc) that will adequately prepare you for big routes on big mountains

Spoken like a true West Coaster...The Tuckerman Ravine trail on Mt. Washington has 4,300 feet of gain in 4.2 miles. The altitude is low, but there are few routes for "average" climbers that will have you doing more than that in a day. How much more prep than that do you need? (Rhetorical, I don't expect a reply).


Definitely true from a training aspect. East coast trails tend to be a lot steeper and rougher than many east coast trail. Even though I spent a lot of time hiking/climbing in CA and CO, I had my ass kicked by what I thought would be a short morning hike in NH. It's not going to train you for the altitude but the vertical gain is more than enough for getting in shape.
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