Pre-Season Stoke Series: Ideas to enhance your training sessions for the upcoming ice climbing season.
There are many parts to the training puzzle. We hope you are eager to get tuned up for ice climbing season. We suggest connecting with a professional trainer or athlete to get a specific training schedule that is appropriate for your fitness level and climbing goals. In addition, do your homework and read-up on how to effectively train for ice climbing. There are many great resources out there to help you. This training series is intended to give you ideas to compliment your training sessions. Pre-Season Training is essential to get you stoked for ice climbing.
Many people over look their lower body when thinking about working-out for ice climbing. In reality, your calves can get an amazing pump when ice climbing. So, be sure to intertwine calf exercises and other leg exercises into your routine training. Having strong calves that are familiar with repetitive movement that mimics ice climbing will compliment your upper body strength & overall climbing efficiency. Our legs (and abs) have much bigger muscles than our arms, so let’s be sure to use them wisely when we ice climb.
Here are a few ideas for calf exercises in the gym. Be sure to properly warm up (jump rope, jog, cycle, etc.) and stretch your calves pre/post calf work-outs. When doing these focus on quality repetition, not on maxing out the weight, if weight is involved. The purpose here is to create muscle memory and endurance through repetition. You may decide to do a circuit session that integrates these calf exercises.
Weighted Calf Raises (seated). Make sure to maintain good posture while doing this exercise. Use a weight that allows you to do quality repetitions. If you do not have the machine to do this exercise you can do this with the weight bar across the top of your quads in a sitting position and a block under the balls of your feet to create the downward stretch. Make sure to breath with the movement. Inhale down, exhale up.
Calf Raises (standing). Go for quality movement and repetition. Pause at the top and at the bottom. You may decide to do this as a weighted calf raise exercise. Simply choose dumb-bells that are an appropriate weight for you to do quality repetitions, hold one in each hand with a straight arm as you do the calf raises. You can isolate each leg by doing one leg at a time. Casually bend one leg at the knee and put your weight on the standing leg, then keep good, balanced posture and do the calf raise.
Assisted Calf Raises. This exercise promotes quality repetition and provides a solid structure to help you maintain balance & posture. This can be done single legged too. The assist can either be above you or in front of you at about waist height. Single Leg Assisted Calf Raises.
Other ideas to improve your calf strength & endurance: run stairs, jump rope.
Happy Training! Get stoked to fire-up ice climbing!
Stay tuned for more pre-season stoke training tips. Thanks!
Disclaimer: SJMG recommends individuals to consult professional trainers & athletes for an appropriate training program. These training tips are intended to help give you ideas to enhance your training sessions.
Here in Ouray we have had rain over the past few days and snow in the high country. This makes us eager with anticipation for the upcoming winter season and ice climbing. This moisture seeping into the ground is great for future ice flows. Once we start to get a melt / freeze cycle this precipitation will turn into ice, one of our favorite forms of water!
With Ice Climbing around the corner, now is the time to start pre-season training. This series of blog-posts is intended to give you ideas for your training sessions. At SJMG we get the opportunity to learn from Professional Climbers and Mountain Guides about how to prepare for Ice Climbing. By being dedicated to a training program you will be more physically & mentally ready for the challenges of climbing ice. There are many layers involved with a training program, we encourage you to consult experienced professional athletes and trainers to create an appropriate training program for your climbing goals and fitness level.
Whatever your goals are for this ice season whether it is climbing in the Ouray Ice Park, climbing steep backcountry ice routes, honing your mixed climbing skills, the possibilities are here in the San Juans. Start your pre-season training to give yourself the best opportunity to enjoy your ice climbing experience. We look forward to ice climbing with you!
Please stay tuned to our Pre-Season Stoke Series: Ideas to enhance your training sessions for the upcoming ice climbing season.
Here is a useful & insightful link from a professional climber that we very much admire and respect, Will Gadd. He is an amazing athlete with many incredible accomplishments. Taking the time to read material written by experienced athletes is a great way to learn how to reach your potential.
Pre-Season Stoke Series presented by SJMG: Disclaimer: training should be taken seriously and we recommend consulting a professional trainer to learn what training program is best suited for you. This series of training tips is intended to give you ideas for your training sessions.
The San Juan Mountains have rugged alpine canyons to explore. Different than the desert sandstone slot canyons of Uath, the canyons in the San Juans are wild with rock diversity, log-jams, high alpine-style mountainous gorges with ferns and raspberries flourishing among the pines. These canyons are rich with adventure and scenic delight. Ouray is home base to several amazing alpine canyons of varying difficulty including: Angel Creek, Portland Creek, Oak Creek, Cascade Creek, Weehawken Creek, Bear Creek, and the Uncompahgre Gorge, just to name a few outstanding descents.
Michael Dallin has written a terrific guide book for the Canyoning in the San Juans Mountains surrounding Ouray titled, Ouray Canyoning, Explorations in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. This book has great photos, route beta, and maps. Ouray has become a destination for canyoning aficionados over the years and is more recently becoming better known for it’s rugged, exciting alpine canyons. This August will be the 6th annual Ouray Canyon Festival in conjunction with the 14th annual Rendezvous International for Canyoneering. We are thrilled that Ouray is hosting this awesome event for people to come together & enjoy the wonderful canyons in our area.
Recently I had the opportunity to descend Middle & Lower Oak Creek Canyon. It was awesome! It is super easy to access directly from town. No cars necessary! This type of adventure really gets me stoked, human powered exploration of very unique places. The only requirements are that you are well practiced at rappelling, you have good rope management skills, and you are up for the adventure.
It is also nice to be properly dressed and rigged for any circumstances that may come your way in the canyon. Myself, I wear polypropylene long underwear type of base layers with a drysuit or dry-top & pants (some people wear wetsuits to insulate) to keep warm while rapping through cold waterfalls.
Essential items are:
- Ropes, proper length & number of ropes, we recommend Bluewater Rope’s 9.2 Canyon Rope
- Harness & Helmet
- Rappel Device
- VT Prussik or short Prussik Loop for Rappel back-up
- Purcell Prussik or other personal anchor system
- Extra cordelette & quicklinks in case you need to make a new anchor or beef one up
- Shoes with super good rubber/traction, highly recommend 5.10 Canyoneers, 5.10 Stealth Rubber is the ultimate best!
- Gloves, leather work gloves or similar
Oak Creek is easy to get to from town. After a steep 2 mile hike up Oak Creek Trail (left at the trail junction about 1.2 miles up for the middle section) you will come to the creek crossing. This is the start for Middle Oak Creek. There are at least 8 rappels in the middle section, the tallest is about 80 feet. Lower Oak Creeks has about 8 rappels, the tallest is 170 feet, quite exciting! Lots of down climbing, rappelling through waterfalls, and super scenic creek hiking highlight the beauty of this extraordinary place. It is a magically unique space that can only be accessed with the right knowledge and know how to explore safely. We feel lucky to have these canyons right out our back door.
Our Alpamayo Expedition Team had a great summit climb 07/14/15. They had a day of rest, post summit, at high camp and then yesterday they journeyed down to Base Camp. Today, 07/16/15, they will enjoy the day at Base Camp relaxing and relishing in the beauty of the Cordillera Blanca. Andrés called this morning, they are all doing fantastic. Tomorrow they will make it back to Hauraz to finish the trip. We are so happy for them and wish them smooth travels home.
Our Alpamayo expedition team is doing great. Yesterday (07/13/15) they made it to High Camp at 18,000 ft (5,485 m.). Their plan was to go for a summit bid starting late last night. Wishing them a fun and safe climb to the summit of Alpamayo 19,512 ft. (5,947 m.) and back down. Stay tuned as we receive updates from them.
Our team is doing strong en route to Alpamayo. They had a great rest day yesterday and are moving to Moraine Camp today (07/12/15) at 16,076 ft or 4,900 m. Everyone is well and the weather is holding good. Best to the team as they continue upwards to advanced basecamp or Col Camp tomorrow at 18,000 ft.
We received word from Andrés and the team this afternoon (07/09/15). They are all doing fantastic. Today they hiked from the Llama Corral Camp to Base Camp (14,107 ft. or 4,300 m.) in the Arhuaycocha Gully, which overlooks the beautiful Lago Arhuaycocha. Their plan is to do a carry to Moraine Camp (16,000 ft. or 4,875 m.) tomorrow and then have a rest day on Saturday at Base Camp. Great to hear they are doing terrific and the weather is looking good. Best of travels!
The Alpamayo Expedition hit the Santa Cruz Valley Trail at Cashapampa today (07/08/15), burros loaded with gear. We received a SPOT check in from them at the Llama Corral Camp. We wish them a safe & wonderful journey!
Our Expedition to Alpamayo has begun. The solid team led by Andrés Marín and co-guided by Josh Miller arrived in Huaraz yesterday. Huaraz is in North-Central Perú and is the capital of the Ancash Region. It sits at just over 10,000 ft (3,050 m).
Today (07/08/15) the team will complete the gear check and final pack to hit the trail tomorrow in Cashapampa (11,237 ft.), the trailhead for the Santa Cruz Trek and the entrance into the Santa Cruz Valley. We wish Andrés, Josh, Jim, Stephen and Jaaron a wonderful journey into the Cordillera Blanca. Stay tuned for trip updates.
A Custom Climb of the Moose’s Tooth in Denali National Park
by Chuck Foster
I have been a rock and ice climber off and on since the mid 1970’s. I have always enjoyed climbing and have been fairly competent (lead 5.9, used to lead 5.10 and climb WI 3) but have never taken climbing too seriously or have been consistent with it to reach some of the harder levels. Last winter some friends of mine were heading down to Ouray to go ice climbing with San Juan Mt Guides. I have always wanted to go there to climb but I had reservations about using guides since I have never “needed” a guide in the past. All I can say is I was completely surprised with how much fun I had. The first day we spent in the ice park playing around on easy routes which after a few laps I must admit I was getting bored. One of the guides ask me if I would mind if he gave me a couple of pointers. He told me a few things and immediately I was climbing much more efficiently. Now I picked the hardest options to climb and do laps and found I wasn’t getting tired. I really wished someone told me these things years ago. The next day we went into the backcountry and the first climb was a WI4/5 route for a full 70 meters. I didn’t say anything but inside I felt a little anxious to say the least. Once on the climb I was in the groove and was comfortable and relaxed the whole time. We spent the next couple of days climbing similar routes and just had a blast.
Later when I was home I received an email from San Juan Mountain Guides asking me if I was interested in climbing Moose’s Tooth in Alaska. I had always wanted to do that climb but never seriously considered it but now I had the opportunity right in front of me and my wife was telling me to go. How could I pass that up? Back in 1989 I attempted the West Rib of Denali with a friend but for a number of reasons we didn’t make the summit. I had some other friends living in Anchorage that allowed us to mail gear to them ahead of time and then when we arrived we spent the day repacking at their place and then they drove us to Talkeetna. Having them support us made the planning so much easier. Since they no longer live in Anchorage, I haven’t considered climbing up in Alaska due to the complexity but using San Juan Mountain Guides all the planning and staging has been done. I arrived at the airport, was picked up at the baggage claim, driven to the grocery store to purchase some additional food items and went straight to Talkeetna. It was so simple. The only hard part was I had to carry my own luggage to the car. The next morning we flew to the base of the climb.
When ever I climb I go as light as possible; fast and simple. The guide service showed me a new concept – bring everything! It was great. Camp was so much more comfortable. I had a three person tent to myself. I had gear spread out all over the tent and no one to complain about it. No one else’s smelly socks or getting snow in the tent or listening to the guy next to you snore. The list goes on. The food was also another great revelation. Our food bag weighed more then all my gear combined! We always had something good to eat. I have always said that food in the backcountry always tastes so much better than when you are home but this time it was that good. We had enough good, quality snacks that we didn’t need to cook any meals: quesadillas, mochas, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches. I was becoming concerned that when I returned home I would have gained weight and my wife would be wondering what I had really been doing.
The climb was absolutely fantastic. The first climb was Ham & Eggs. This was another warm year for the area so we wanted to try to get moving early to be off the summit before the snow began softening. We were on the first pitch right at first light. Some consider the first pitch the crux since it is mostly rock. It went really smooth with no real effort. The next four or five pitches (mostly hard snow/ice) buzzed right by and then the next crux, a water-ice bulge that is a little overhanging with thin ice above. With proper foot work it was fairly simple and it too was behind us. There was another water-ice pitch with another bulge crux and again with a little finesse it was behind us. The higher we went the colder it became, so towards the top we had excellent neve’. When the calves started to burn the slope lessened, perfect conditions for the French technique to relieve the calves.
Toward the col we simul-climbed the last four to five hundred feet to the summit ridge. A quick traverse brought us to the summit. We didn’t linger since the sun was coming down pretty hard and the snow was starting to ball up under foot. Back across the summit ridge, a couple of vthread wraps down to the col and 15 rappels later we were back in camp, 14 hours after we started.
We rested the next day and watched the conditions on Shaken not Stirred. This climb should be called Shake and Bake. It really gets baked by the sun. From all the direct sun there is constant debris exiting the bottom of the climb. The climb is a beautiful line (in good weather) but there is no where to move to avoid getting hit. I really wanted to climb it but we decided to play on just the bottom pitches and retreat in time to be clear of falling debris by noon. Again at first light we were on the bottom pitch. It was almost completely rock since the ice was melted out but there was some quality frozen dirt that would hold a pick; another outstanding pitch. After a snow pitch we were at the base of a couple of ice pitches that were averaging 12 to 14 inches wide. They looked fantastic but we knew we needed to be turning around so we started the wraps down. As soon as we were back at camp we watched debris start to rain down the climb. Too bad it was so warm.
We called Talkeetna Air Taxi to come pick us up since it was just mid-day. Our scheduled pickup was for tomorrow morning so they said they would pick us up in the morning. We asked them about the weather to be sure the conditions were good since today the conditions were perfect. They have the computers and access to the weather information and we don’t so they said don’t worry there was plenty of time and they would see us in the morning. Around midnight the snow started and continued for the next four days. I missed my flight out of Anchorage as the snow continued – welcome to Alaska mountaineering.
Andres, my guide, never showed his frustration. Yes he was disappointed that I missed my flight but what can we do? We sat around telling jokes, eating and making hot drinks. I read my books and started on his, then we would eat again. After a few days we moved our camp closer to the landing area and joined two other guided groups; one group of two and another group of three. Seven of us waiting for a clearing so we could head out.
This is where I must say I was so impressed with Andres and San Juan Mountain Guides. Of the other two groups one guide stayed with his client in a tent and watched DVD movies. The other guide stayed in his tent and didn’t do anything for his two clients, but Andres cooked up more quesadillas, burritos, hot drinks and other snacks for us and the other team’s clients. They were so impressed with Andres and sad to say a bit disappointed with the selection of their guide. I was shocked at the difference in the service between the different groups. I have been stranded waiting for a clearing in weather many times before but this was truly the most enjoyable time I have had in these conditions. Attitude makes all the difference. There were many times we almost had tears in our eyes from laughing so hard. I will always consider this as one of my best trips ever. Thanks Andres and San Juan Mountain Guides.