Browse More Plans

Uphill Athlete 16 week Big Mountain Training Plan


Scott Johnston

All plans by this Coach
4.51 (59)


16 Weeks

Plan Description

This plan is ideal for those climbing the high peaks of Peru, Boliva and Ecuador by mountaineering routes. This is the minimum training plan that we can recommend for those who have a goal of climbing an high altitude expeditionary peak such as Denali, Aconcagua, Peak Lenin, Cho Oyu, or Everest. This 16 week plan progresses gradually but will require considerable effort to complete. It is not for the totally-out-of-shape as it starts off with over 6 hours of required training per week and culminates in 11 hours per week. Stick with this plan and you will see great results in your fitness.

This plan is based on scientifically sound training and a combined thirty years of professional endurance coaching experience and sixty years of world-wide climbing and mountaineering experience. The plan starts with an Aerobic Threshold assessment test. From this you will establish the training intensity limit for most of the aerobic base training that will dominate in the overall plan but especially in the first 8 weeks. The first 8 weeks also include a simple, easy-to-apply strength program to develop what is called strength reserve, the ability to repeatedly execute strength-dependent movements such as taking a step while wearing a heavy backpack. The final 8 weeks applies more complex strength training methods.

We take a multi-faceted approach aimed at maximizing your strength through proven strategies to improve neuromuscular control of muscular contractions; you’ll become a lot stronger without adding any weight or size during these weeks. Starting in the tenth week of the plan we include our proven mountaineering-specific muscular endurance workouts. Complete these, but only after laying the base with the previous weeks of properly executed and periodized strength training, to put the frosting on your fitness cake.

Tips: Rest when you are tired. If you miss one workout in a week, do not try to make it up, simply move on. If you miss more than two workouts in any one week then repeat that week. Do not increase the intensity and hope to gain more benefits or to squeeze a 1 hour workout into 30 minutes. There is no short cut when it comes to aerobic adaptation.

This plan has proven successful for climbers all over the world who used it to prepare for moderate climbing objectives including guided ascents of Denali and Everest. For those of you planning to climb Everest or Denali we very strongly recommend using the 24 Week Mountaineering Training Plan. Following that plan will give the athlete a chance to utilize a more advanced periodization schedule. In our experience, and we’ve climbed and trained climbers to climb all of these mountains, the order of difficulty (from harder to easier) for these climbs via the normal routes is: Everest without supplement oxygen, Cho Oyu without supplemental oxygen, Denali, Everest with supplemental oxygen (those last two are very similar in difficulty), Cho Oyu with supplemental oxygen, Peak Lenin, and Aconcagua. Of course this list assumes equal conditions and weather. Obviously any of these climbs can be rendered completely impossible in poor weather and/or conditions.

For detailed information and to understand how this plan is constructed, please consult our book, “Training for the New Alpinism” published by Patagonia Books. For specific questions about this training plan, or to send us your success story and be featured on our website email us at

Thanks for becoming an #uphillathlete . To be sure you are satisfied with your purchase, please leave your email during the checkout process so we can contact you

Steve House and Scott Johnston

How it Works

Load Your Plan

Quickly view upcoming workouts in the TrainingPeaks app.

Workout and Analyze

Upload completed workouts from your favorite tracking app or device.

Track Your Progress

Get feedback, stay on top of your training and perform at your best.

Learn More

Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Run x3
02:47:00 02:30:00
Walk x2
03:48:00 04:00:00
Strength x2
01:35:00 01:30:00
Day Off x1
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
02:47:00 02:30:00
03:48:00 04:00:00
01:35:00 01:30:00
Day Off
—— ——

Training Load By Week

Uphill Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston

Uphill Athlete LLC.

What originally inspired us to write Training for the New Alpinism, and what inspires us to continue to share the things we’ve discovered through, is the information void when it comes to specialized training for endurance mountain sports. We have successfully demonstrated a more systematic approach, using proven principles, to help you improve both your chances of achieving your goals, and your long-term fitness and safety in whatever mountain sport you are practicing.

  • This plan includes a Free Basic TrainingPeaks Account.
  • Access your training plan anywhere on the TrainingPeaks mobile and desktop apps.
  • Track your performance with robust data tracking and detailed graphs.
  • Plan for your event in the TrainingPeaks calendar.
  • Track your weight, sleep, hours, fatigue and stress while you train.
  • Syncs daily with other popular apps like Garmin and MyFitnessPal.

Refund Policy

This plan is protected by our Refund Policy and may, with the author's approval, be exchanged for a plan of equal value from the same author.

Still have questions about this plan?
$79.00 - Buy Now