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16 week Big Mountain Training Plan V2.1 with ascender training

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16 week Big Mountain Training Plan V2.1 with ascender training


Uphill Athlete

All plans by this Coach
4.52 (87)


16 Weeks

Plan Description

The V2.1 updates to this plan do not reflect a change in the training philosophy or methodology. We have added copious notes as well as more detailed explanations of workouts. These changes will help you self administer this plan and educate you on critical training principles along the way.

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 includes strength training for ascending fixed ropes. If you are headed for a climb that involved a lot of fixed rope you will want to includes workouts.

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.

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

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Steve House

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Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Walk x4
06:34:00 04:00:00
Strength x3
02:30:00 01:30:00
Day Off x1
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
06:34:00 04:00:00
02:30:00 01:30:00
Day Off
—— ——

Training Load By Week

Uphill Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston

Uphill Athlete

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.

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