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#36322 - 05/07/14 09:30 AM Climbing conditioning for flatlander
Ullr24 Offline


Registered: 05/07/14
Posts: 3
Loc: Texas
Hi All,

I will be making my first trek up Mt Whitney on July 25th. I was wondering if anyone could offer any conditioning tips for someone who does not have the fortune of living around terrain with elevation gains. I am a very experienced skier and climber, having backpacked and climbed throughout the sierras, rockies, andes, alps and in south africa. I am in Houston though so my outdoors training options are severely limited. Any tips are welcome to avoid my 3 day trip turning into misery!

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#36324 - 05/07/14 10:00 AM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
I hope others will weigh in, but my first thought is that you should give yourself more than 3 days for this adventure.

Acclimatization to the altitude will be half your battle, and so spending several nights at 10,000' will help your body prepare for the 14,500 at the summit.

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#36325 - 05/07/14 10:24 AM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 103
Loc: Oklahoma
Hi Ullr24,

I understand the challenge of being a mountain enthusiast who lives in the flatlands. All is not lost.

Ditto what Steve said about acclimatization!

For your physical training, there's always the gym.

Or, get on a mountain bike and hit the Buffalo Bayou trail from Beltway 8 out to Highway 6, and connect up with the trails along Addicks Dam to the north or the trails to the west of Highway 6. When I lived there that was all dirt and gravel, but I think some is paved now. You can go for hours.

Better yet, put on your hiking boots, your backpack with some weight in it, and your ipod and head to the nearest high school football field to do some laps on the stadium steps up and down from one end to the other, over and over. If you have access to a high rise office building, you can use the stairway there when it gets hot out. The nice thing about this is your legs get training for up and down, whereas on a Stairmaster at the gym you only get the up part.

Glenn

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#36326 - 05/07/14 10:49 AM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Glenn]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Glenn
Better yet, put on your hiking boots, your backpack with some weight in it, and your ipod and head to the nearest high school football field to do some laps on the stadium steps up and down from one end to the other, over and over. If you have access to a high rise office building, you can use the stairway there when it gets hot out. The nice thing about this is your legs get training for up and down, whereas on a Stairmaster at the gym you only get the up part.

like! like!

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#36327 - 05/07/14 11:00 AM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Steve C]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
bulldog34 had some good advice for my friends flying out from Tennessee and Maine last year. He also made a good point regarding training for 'sustained/continuous gain.' If he doesn't chime in, I'd send him a PM.


Edited by 63ChevyII.com (05/07/14 11:01 AM)
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#36329 - 05/07/14 11:35 AM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
Ullr24 Offline


Registered: 05/07/14
Posts: 3
Loc: Texas
Thanks all. I run 5+ miles at a 8:00/min pace 3-4 times a week. i try to spend as much time on the bike as possible but that's a challenge living close to downtown, or anywhere in Houston. I plan to supplement my usual regimen with some weights for the pack and will do Rice stadium stairs to get better suited. I used to work downtown and people would train by going up the building stairwells but thats verboten building management at my current office.

As for acclimatization, I plan to stay at the whitney portal or cottonwood two days before setting out.

One last question, if I am back to whitney portal by 2pm Sunday is it feasible to make a 7pm flight out of LAX or would that be cutting it too close?

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#36330 - 05/07/14 01:02 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: Ullr24

One last question, if I am back to whitney portal by 2pm Sunday is it feasible to make a 7pm flight out of LAX or would that be cutting it too close?


That's cutting it too close IMO. Without traffic, I'm guessing it would take 4+ hours to get to LAX. You don't want to speed on the 395.

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#36332 - 05/07/14 01:31 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 524
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: Ullr24


One last question, if I am back to whitney portal by 2pm Sunday is it feasible to make a 7pm flight out of LAX or would that be cutting it too close?


You might want to look into flights from Ontario to Hobby. SW has a flight leaving at 5:45, and Ontario is much closer (in time) than LAX

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#36335 - 05/07/14 06:33 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
bulldog34 had some good advice for my friends flying out from Tennessee and Maine last year. He also made a good point regarding training for 'sustained/continuous gain.' If he doesn't chime in, I'd send him a PM.


Thanks Chevy, but I'm at a loss on this one. My particular wheelhouse is helping fellow Eastern flatlanders understand what they're up against the first time they try a mountain like Whitney. Ullr24 has an impressive mountaineering resume, so there's no question he understands his task thoroughly. His challenge is trying to train for it in the really flat Houston area. Other than the ideas already floated, I'm stumped.

"Flatlander" is a relative term when talking about the Sierra. At least most folks in the east have some smallish mountain range within a reasonable distance that they can target for at least a semblance of gain-training, but the Gulf Coast is second only to Florida in the Ridiculously Flat category.

A friend from Orlando successfully summitted Whitney a few years ago, preparing only by running lots of miles, using a Stair-Master, and hitting his local high school stadium steps. Like you, Ullr24, he was an experienced mountaineer (great quote - "What's more useless than a mountaineer banished to Florida?"), so his background helped greatly when he got above 12K' and had to battle that deficit of purpose-training. I suspect your experience will kick in at some point on the mountain if you can't get in the gain-train beforehand, but I bet it'll hurt.

Personally, I'd make it a point to get in one or two weekend trips to the closest mountain range of any substance before that Sierra date rolls around, and tackle the real thing. I expect to be around the Portal the last week of July, so hopefully we'll cross paths and I can hear how it went firsthand.

Oh, and on the Sunday 7 pm flight from LAX - the last two times I drove LAX to Lone Pine it took about 4.5 hours each. And remember, it's at least 20-25 minutes from the Portal to Lone Pine. Presumably rental car return and checked luggage to slow things down even further? And, of course, if this is what happens, your flight WILL be on time, with boarding beginning at 6:35 sharp. Murphy's Law. Ditto on the comment about speeding along 395 - not a great idea. Insidious CHP and local law speed trap. You'd have about the same chance of making the flight as the Astros do of winning the World Series this year. You'll need a REALLY early wake-up on summit day if you stick with that return flight.

Gary

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#36336 - 05/07/14 06:42 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Bulldog34]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Hi Gary, this is what I was thinking of:

Originally Posted By: Bulldog34

I also hit the gym about a week out and put in 6000 feet of gain on a treadmill set at 15 degrees, just to make sure my legs can handle it in one day. I've been hiking and climbing western mountains for about 10 years, and the biggest problem in training here in the east is the inability to get sustained gains in these low mountains. Your legs always get a downhill break after no more than 2000 feet, which is definitely not the case in the Sierra. The treadmill always tells me how ready I am.

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#36337 - 05/07/14 06:52 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Hi Gary, this is what I was thinking of:

Originally Posted By: Bulldog34

I also hit the gym about a week out and put in 6000 feet of gain on a treadmill set at 15 degrees, just to make sure my legs can handle it in one day. I've been hiking and climbing western mountains for about 10 years, and the biggest problem in training here in the east is the inability to get sustained gains in these low mountains. Your legs always get a downhill break after no more than 2000 feet, which is definitely not the case in the Sierra. The treadmill always tells me how ready I am.


Yeah, Chevy, there is that last temperature check. Damn hard - and boring- day. It is an excellent barometer, though, to determine if your legs are ready. Been a couple of years since I've done that since I've backpacked Whitney the past two years and didn't necessarily need that kind of conditioning. Hour after hour after hour on a 15-degree treadmill - freakin' torture, but effective.

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#36338 - 05/07/14 06:58 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: John Sims]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 524
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: John Sims
Originally Posted By: Ullr24


One last question, if I am back to whitney portal by 2pm Sunday is it feasible to make a 7pm flight out of LAX or would that be cutting it too close?


You might want to look into flights from Ontario to Hobby. SW has a flight leaving at 5:45, and Ontario is much closer (in time) than LAX


Another option is to fly from Las Vegas. Drive time is approx. same as Ontario, but they have a nonstop flight at 8:00 PM

Also, more interesting drive.

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#36339 - 05/07/14 07:04 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Ullr24, re-reading this thread I see that you never explicitly said what your planned time frame was. I assumed it was a one-night backpack based on your comment about returning to the Portal at 2:00. Is that correct - a one-nighter?

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#36340 - 05/07/14 07:10 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: John Sims]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: John Sims
Originally Posted By: John Sims
Originally Posted By: Ullr24


One last question, if I am back to whitney portal by 2pm Sunday is it feasible to make a 7pm flight out of LAX or would that be cutting it too close?


You might want to look into flights from Ontario to Hobby. SW has a flight leaving at 5:45, and Ontario is much closer (in time) than LAX


Another option is to fly from Las Vegas. Drive time is approx. same as Ontario, but they have a nonstop flight at 8:00 PM

Also, more interesting drive.



And there's a short-cut from Death Valley Junction through Parumph that's little-used (State Line Road). It can knock a half-hour off the normal trip easily. And you can FLY through much of the drive without obsessing about CHP or the NP Rangers - if you so desire. Definitely my preferred airport for the Eastern Sierra. And rental cars are really cheap in Vegas most of the time.

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#36342 - 05/07/14 07:46 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1539
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: Ullr24
Hi All,

I will be making my first trek up Mt Whitney on July 25th. I was wondering if anyone could offer any conditioning tips for someone who does not have the fortune of living around terrain with elevation gains. I am a very experienced skier and climber, having backpacked and climbed throughout the sierras, rockies, andes, alps and in south africa. I am in Houston though so my outdoors training options are severely limited. Any tips are welcome to avoid my 3 day trip turning into misery!


Yeah, stair reps in the Texas Commerce Tower. Wave to my old office on 58 and flip off Charlie Koch for me if you see him on 75!
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Wherever you go, there you are.
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#36344 - 05/07/14 08:45 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: saltydog]
Whitney Fan Offline


Registered: 12/02/09
Posts: 213
Loc: Las Vegas
A flatlander wondering how to train to climb Mt. Whitney?

Seems like what I posted in another thread just the other day is relevant!

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#36347 - 05/07/14 10:25 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Ullr24 wrote:
> I will be making my first trek up Mt Whitney on July 25th.
and:
> I plan to stay at the whitney portal or cottonwood two days before setting out.
and also:
> if I am back to whitney portal by 2pm Sunday is it feasible to make a 7pm flight out of LAX

The 25th is Friday. Sounds like an overnight trip. You will summit on Saturday. Lots of overnighters summit and exit all the way to the Portal on the second day. Even if you stayed a second night at Trail Camp, you could get up early and hike down is just a few hours.

John Sims suggested Las Vegas. I think that is a far better idea than LAX. You will have a nice contrast of scenery on the way to/from Lone Pine, and it's a treat to drive through Death Valley. Driving to LAX is a chore and a pain.

With all the running and biking you do, it won't take much stadium work with a pack to be ready for Mt Whitney. You will be good to go.

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#36348 - 05/07/14 10:31 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Steve C]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Just don't forget to train for the downhill. 6000' of drop can be tough on the knees!

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#36357 - 05/08/14 11:08 AM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: John Sims]
Ullr24 Offline


Registered: 05/07/14
Posts: 3
Loc: Texas
No sir. I am getting into LA on the 24th and driving up to the whitney portal that afternoon. I'll camp at altitude and then head up the North Fork at Lone Pine Creek to Upper Boy Scout lake. On from there i will do the mountaineer's route to the summit on Day 2.

I am really really excited about this trip. I worked in Bakersfield a few years ago and did quite a few hikes in the mineral king/sawtooth pass area. one of my favorite spots on the planet.


Edited by Ullr24 (05/08/14 11:44 AM)

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#36363 - 05/08/14 05:54 PM Re: Climbing conditioning for flatlander [Re: Ullr24]
CaliHawk Offline


Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 16
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Ullr24
Thanks all. I run 5+ miles at a 8:00/min pace 3-4 times a week. i try to spend as much time on the bike as possible but that's a challenge living close to downtown, or anywhere in Houston. I plan to supplement my usual regimen with some weights for the pack and will do Rice stadium stairs to get better suited. I used to work downtown and people would train by going up the building stairwells but thats verboten building management at my current office.

As for acclimatization, I plan to stay at the whitney portal or cottonwood two days before setting out.

One last question, if I am back to whitney portal by 2pm Sunday is it feasible to make a 7pm flight out of LAX or would that be cutting it too close?


Just a piece of advice, don't rush to get back anywhere. Life is short, enjoy the area it is beyond awesome. On top of that, you need to factor in the possibility of a bit of traffic which you could get to LA, ONT or Vegas.


Edited by CaliHawk (05/08/14 05:55 PM)

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