Training for Denali

This is part 1 in series of blogs that i have written for my denali experience. main page can be found here.

After confirming my 3 weeks of vacation I signed up with Alpine Ascents for Denali guided expedition sometime in October of 2012 so i had plenty of time to train. At that time i had just started going to gym regularly focussing on mainly cardio and then sometime in november i jumped into the six pack shortcuts which went pretty well but then the ski season had started.

During the ski season i was skiing at Mammoth which mean’t that on average i was skiing at 9-10k elevation. At the same time three times i spent more than 7 consecutive days of skiing which helped with my cardio. Between the change of jobs at the end of january i didn’t really get a constant amount of gym time but did lots of skiing.

Once i got settled down at my new job it was time to get in some serious time so i joined crossfit and starting from march and i started going there at least 4 times a week, it was surprising how addicting it became.

3 more months were left and then i decided to create a calendar of hikes with increasing difficulty. I also discovered south bay swim team so i decided to join them along with going to the sand dunes park in manhattan beach with a heavy backpack. So my proposed schedule would look something like following.

during the week do the below,
mornings go to sand dunes park with heavy pack for an hour.
evenings go swimming (6.30 – 7.30) and then go to crossfit.

weekends hike on sat and then sunday rest or diving, i hadn’t dove close to 5 months and i felt that i should at least get in a few dives before leaving.

There were few weekdays where i managed to squeeze in all 3 things but it got too much and i ended up dropping swimming after a month, the sand dunes fell out of picture in mid may since our company gym was about to open soon. It was really hard to stay motivated for the sand dunes since i had to wake up at 6.30ish and drive out to the dunes, go to public pool for shower and then eventually reach work at around 9.30.

The hikes started with San Gorgonio overnight backpacking trip where the plan was to camp on the summit but late start and slow pace forced us to abandon those plans and we ended up turning around. It was a good start with a heavy overnight pack and i did test out my new Scarpa Alpha’s on that trip and figured out that i would be totally fine in them with overboots on Denali.

Next up was Mt Wilson from Chantry Flats which is a 14 mile RT and i was fine on it again with 50 lb pack on way up and around 30 on the way back. Going for Paul Van Dyk that night and diving on sunday capped my hectic, fun weekend. Boy it did feel good to dive after 5 long months and take my camera underwater for the first time.

Mt Lukens was next which is 8 mile RT with 4k elevation gain and on this i carried my camera gear which is around 10 lbs, yes i did plan to carry my 70-200 telephoto lens on Denali. It was a surprisingly beautiful hike and i had a wonderful time. For the first time i shot a critter on land during this hike.

Next couple of hikes were a bust because of lack of motivation and people to go out with, Baden Powell and 3T hikes are around 15 miles each with over 4k of elevation gain so most of my friends who i invited were like thanks but no thanks.

Memorial day weekend i wanted to do a multi day dive trip but none of the dive boats seemed interesting and Sung wanted to climb Mt Tom (13,652′) so i figured it would be nice to get some altitude a month before the climb, i packed in some extra weight for this 3 day trip and was totally comfortable which was great. It was a fun backpacking trip.

San Gorgonio from Momyer trail is a marathon (26 miles RT) and i didn’t think i would be able to do it in a day with a heavy pack (60 lbs) so i decided to have a cut off time of 2pm on this hike for turn around and see how far i went. We ended up doing about 19-20 miles in that day which was great, at this point i was feeling really confident.

I wanted to do Mt Baldy from village (12 miles RT with 6k elevation gain) on consecutive days but at that time i was also going to the company gym after work and getting on treadmill/stepper with 60lbs pack for an hour followed by crossfit. So i was getting really beat up and with my confidence growing i didn’t really feel the need to push myself and possibly injure myself in the process so Mt baldy plan wasn’t executed.

I did end up doing San Gorgonio from Fish Creek Trail (18 miles RT) that weekend but i carried only around 30 lbs, I had one more weekend left but i wanted to use that for packing so i just chilled and then in the final week i stopped crossfit too. I just went to the gym with a 70 lb pack twice, i wanted to see if i could handle it for an hour on the stepper and was very happy that i was able to.

One last thing that i think helped my overall fitness was juicing, i bought a juicer and started making green and fresh fruit juices every morning. Kale, Spinach, Cucumbers, Carrots, Oranges, Apples, Avocados, Ginger, Beet root were being consumed in significant quantity by me.

The most difficult part of training was staying motivated, i didn’t think it would be that difficult but turned out i was wrong. There were times when i just didn’t want to do anything but since i went to crossfit after work i had no excuse to skip it and it would also help me beat the traffic to get home.

At the end of it all, I felt really confident and seemed like i was physically prepared for the rigors of Denali.

High Resolution pics from the entire climb can be viewed here. you can also prints from this site if you wish. Entire collection is posted on facebook, if you are interested in obtaining high resolution of some picture then let me know.

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