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Altitude vs. Repetition


Tons of people ask me for advice on climbing Kilimanjaro. Common questions are: What altitude should I do my training hikes? Do you think I will make it to the top on a six-day Machame climb? How many women make it to the summit?

One question that I received lately was from a woman asking me her training schedule. She was planning a six mile hike at 7,000 ft. She asked if one time would do her any good.

My perspective with training of Kili is that, of course, it’s great to hike at altitudes to see how your body reacts. The more time and experience at altitudes the better. However, since many people live where their are no major mountains, I think the best part with training is making sure that you do lots of repetitive hikes, day after day, after day. It’s great to go one or two hikes on the weekend, but try hiking everyday for more than one week. It’s hard. That’s the training you need for climbing Kilimanjaro because you are hiking everyday, for many days, and you need to have that kind of energy. Each day attempt to set your goal, and you make it.

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By Peter Baxter | Permalink | 4 comments | June 29th, 2006
Tags: Training, Training on Kilimanjaro
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Comments

By Tim | June 30th, 2006
Corner

I agree wholeheartedly with Donovan. If you have the opportunity to train at altitude that’s great, but I think that most of the guided climbs up Kili try to take altitude and acclimatization time into account. The important thing is to go slow and not push yourself to hard.

Frequent training hikes will help to improve your overall fitness, but more importantly it will help develop your hiking muscles and get your body used to hiking. Regardless of your overall fitness level, strong hiking muscles will make the hike easier, minimize soreness, and decrease your recovery time.

I ran my second marathon two weeks ago in Thailand while on my RTW trip. I say this not to brag, but to make a point about training. My first marathon was 8 months ago. I trained for seven months, logged hundreds of miles, and finished in just over four hours. This time around I did not train, having run only four or five times since I left the US four months ago. Even though I still have a good overall level of fitness, it took me almost six hours to finish this marathon. My legs gave out way before my lungs did, and the reason was that I had not been running enough and my muscles weren’t prepared for that kind of use.

So hike as often as you can. Your body will thank you for it.

Corner
By Cheesehead | July 3rd, 2006
Corner

To prepare for our own trip, my son and I logged 40 to 50 miles of hiking. This enabled us to manage the daily distances on Kili but also broke in our boots to the point where we never got blisters.
I believe we also increased our chances by taking 9 days to climb the mountain. This included two extra days to aclimate. It basically
took altitude sickness out of the picture.
Make no mistake, even taking 9 days, it’s allot of work. We were very happy when there was no place higher to climb.

Corner
By Joe Vegas | July 3rd, 2006
Corner

So glad I found this forum. I’m training for a climb in August and wanted to hear from some other climbers how they did it. We’re taking the 9 day route for the extra acclimatization days. We booked on the Western Breach, but are going an alternate route now that the Western Breach has closed.

For training, I’ve been in the gym on some sort of cardio machine for an hour twice a week, and then have been getting out for a long hike every weekend on Mt. Charleston, from 7500′ to the saddle at about 10,300′ and back. It’s an 8-mile roundtrip and takes about 4 hours up, 2 down.

After reading this, I’m going to start doing more day hikes in a row – probably lower altitude (3500 – 4000′) and only about a 1500 foot gain, but I can add that every morning.

Any suggestions for additional training?

Thanks,

Joe

Corner
By Cheesehead | July 5th, 2006
Corner

Joe,

It looks to me like you will be well prepared for the hike.

One other thing nobody mentioned is the guides start you from day one walking at a slow pace. By the time you get to higher altitude you have a good cadence programed.
All that changes is your breathing. We wound up, inhale on one step, exhale on the other.

Also check to see if your alternate route enables camping at Crater Camp. Camping on top was “interesting”.

Please see my “Nothing But Sky” article on this site. It tells our whole story…it may help.

Good luck,

Ed Abell

Corner

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