Colorado is home to purple mountain majesty and is the highest mean altitude of any state in the United States. With over 1000 mountains exceeding 10,000 feet, 500 peaks that eclipse 13,000 feet and over 50 mountains that exceed 14,000 feet, Colorado is America’s alpine ascent paradise!
Most of the 14,000 peaks can be ascended without the use of crampons, body harnesses and ropes. While there is low exposure on most 14ers, no technical climbing skills are required for trekking in the Rocky Mountains, which makes Colorado the ideal mountain destination if you are looking for a first time mountain challenge. With that said, pre-caution should always be a part of the planning of any 14er hike. With proper training and good planning, most individuals can start in the morning and be standing at the top of these great mountains with 3-7 hours. Next Level Expeditions creates an unforgettable memory for you as we combine our mountaineering experience with two decades of business leadership and personal development experience to create a life time memory.
Colorado is known first for it’s spectacular mountains, including 54 mountains that are over 14,000 feet high. For outdoor enthusiasts there are endless opportunities to hike and climb virtually every day of the week – weather permitting. Each year, thousands of individuals begin their quest to bag a 14,000 peak. For all those who make it to the top of a mountain, many do not make it to the summit, and unfortunately some without adequate training, find themselves in serious situations. Next Level Expedition signature experience; “ViewFromTheTop” is a rigorous and physical demanding challenge! Climbing any 14,000 mountain is a serious workout, which involves several thousand feet of elevation change, with significantly less oxygen available than at sea level. Make sure that you take our training advice seriously .
We recommend starting a training plan at least two months before your departure date. If you outline your specific goals in advance you are much more likely to stick to them. Record your workouts each day to help track your progress and keep you on the right course. As always, consult with your family physician BEFORE starting any new training program.
To create a training plan simply write down what you propose to do each day on a calendar for the months leading up to your ViewFromTheTop adventure. Follow the guidelines listed below. It is important to start slowly and work gradually up to higher levels of fitness. Begin with shorter workouts, low weight and lower intensity and gradually increase all of these as you start to feel stronger. Your training plan can help structure this. Listen to your body, and only increase by an amount you feel comfortable with. Don’t rush it. If you have started far enough in advance you should have plenty of time to work up to your set goals.
Your training plan should consist mostly of cardiovascular, or endurance training that keeps your heart rate moderately high (60-80% of your maximum) for extended periods of time. Examples of cardio training are hiking, biking, running and swimming. You should be cardio training at least three times a week for 40 minutes or more, with another longer workout of 2 hours or more once a week. This will be the core of your training and must be above and beyond anything else you are doing. For instance, if you are spending 2 hours a week in the gym lifting free weights, you still need to complete at least the recommended amount of cardio training on top of this. The cardiovascular training will help you the most on the climb and should not be substituted.
Make sure you ease into each training session with 5 to 10 minutes of warm-up and stretching. Cooling down is important as well, be sure to taper off gradually as your session comes to a close.
- Hiking: The best endurance training is hiking up and down hills. This exercises the exact muscles you will use on the climb. We recommend starting without weight at first and adding weight to a backpack gradually. Eventually you should be able to hike for several hours at a time with 10-15 lbs on your back. Incorporate at least one multi-day hike with weight into your training before the climb if possible. Focus on keeping a steady, even pace.
- Stairmaster/Other Options: If there isn’t a way for you to hike, the best alternative is to spend time on a Stairmaster-type machine or hike laps on the stairs at a stadium or high-rise building. Again, this will work the muscles you’ll be using on the climb and allow you to get used to carrying weight. If you don’t have access to a Stairmaster, consider doing stadium steps or routinely climbing flights of steps in your office building. Either option forces you to go up and down, working your descending leg muscle groups as well. A Stairmaster doesn’t. Because of this, it is not ideal to work out solely on a Stairmaster.
- Running: Running is excellent cardio cross training. It’s a great workout and does a good job of building general strength in your legs. However, it’s not practical to run with weight on your back, and it is hard to run for extended periods of time. If possible, running should be supplemented with vigorous uphill hiking.
- Ski Touring, Bicycling, and/or Swimming: These are all excellent forms of cardio cross training, and can be incorporated into a very successful training plan. They all have their limitations, however, as they are less effective at preparing you for the climb than hiking. If you use these mediums for training, use your judgment and make sure you are getting a solid workout.
Weight Training/Strength Training
Weight training and strength training can be an effective part of a training plan as well. They are excellent ways to build general strength. People sometimes substitute them for cardiovascular training, however, with less than ideal results. Make sure to continue your cardio training throughout, weight training is extra. We recommend strength/weight training 2 to 3 times a week if possible, focusing on the legs and core strength. This can be done at home, in the park, or in a gym. It is very important to warm up and cool down before and after weight training, combined with stretching to prevent injury.
- Personal Trainer: A personal trainer can help you iron out a climbing specific plan. Make sure you do at least three sets of 12 to 20 repetitions for each exercise. Remember, climbing seven 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado will require endurance on your part. You don’t want to build a lot of muscle bulk with low reps and high weight.
- Be Smart: Whatever cardiovascular training activities you decide upon, do them at least three days a week for 40 minutes per session, with a longer two-hour workout on the weekend. This is really the minimum. It is hard to over-train for a Seven Summits climb. Be careful in the final few weeks leading up to your climb not to injure yourself by pushing too hard. Begin easing off a bit towards the end. The last thing you want is an injury just prior to the climb that forces you to miss the entire experience. Pay attention to your body, push your training when you can and rest when you need to.