When I first decided to climb Rainier I didn’t really research into it much and how serious of a mountain climb it was. I tried convincing my friends to do it with me, like oh yeah it’s no big deal ya know. After looking more and more into it, I was like oh shit, this shouldn’t be taken lightly. People come from all over the world to see this amazing mountain. Climbers train on Rainier for mountains like Denali which is one of the 7 summits and 20k feet tall, like whattt? That’s crazy. Uhh we have to cross ladders? What did I get myself into? A few people die on Rainier every year. Woah, why the serious talk? It’s part of the risk and She doesn’t play around. If you don’t take her seriously, she won’t take you seriously. I sorta just block all that out. Although it’s important to keep in mind how dangerous it can be, you can’t let it stop you from climbing. You know the risk and you learn to avoid the dangers as much as possible such as rock falls, seracs, falls, avalanches and crevasses. It comes with experience.
So how do you train for something like Rainier? My guide told us one time ya, you don’t have to train, you can still make it to the top but you will be miserable. In my opinion, if you decide to do something like this you should work for it. That’s part of it. The training. Plus why not spend the time to train to make this experience somewhat enjoyable? You spend majority of your time training but to me that’s worth it all. There is a lot of hiking involved in my training which is my favorite part, obviously. It’s not all boring. What you put into this is what you will get out. They say start training about 6 months before your climb. When I made my training plan, I was dreading it. I exercised before this training but avoided cardio like the plague. Hated it with a passion but for Rainier you have to be well rounded in strength, endurance and speed. If you don’t enjoy the process, you won’t make it far and little to my surprise I actually enjoyed the training. Not all days but most. I learned to embrace cardio and to see myself improve everyday was amazing. I had never been in this good of shape, even in high school when I did volleyball and track. It does take self discipline but you find what works for you. You are probably wondering how much time a day I spent training. Not as much as you’d think. Monday-Friday I spent between 45 min to 1.5 hours. Saturdays were my longest days since those were my hiking days. I had made up a schedule for myself after researching the training aspect of it. I ended up changing it because it didn’t work for me. I think I had a 2 hour run/swim day and I said screw that. I hate running so I plugged in something different. I’ll go day by day of my training plan.
I did beachbody hammer and chisel 4 times a week and that is where my strength training came from. 30-40 min a day. I did pretty much the bare minimum, maybe a little more and it got me in the best shape of my life. You don’t need to spend 3-4 hours everyday at the gym. Short effective workouts are the way to go especially if you don’t have a lot of time.
Monday- Beachbody & stairs (running). 3 flights, 12 times. Up & down being 1.
Tuesday- Beachbody & stairs with pack. 12 times. Weight would vary but since it was a shorter workout I always used a heavier pack versus when I hiked. Started out at 25lbs and worked my way to 55lbs.
Wednesday – Beachbody workout and chambers bay hill. Chambers bay was a 3 mile running loop with tons of hills. I would never do the loop but just the big hill 3 times. Not sure how long or steep it was but it was a big incline and took about 4-5 min to run up.
Thursday – Beachbody and chambers hill with weighted pack. (Walking)
Friday – I’d either do a short 20 min HIIT workout or take the day off. I took it easy because Saturdays were my big training days.
Saturday – Hike with weighted pack. Minimum 8 miles with 800-1200 feet of elevation per mile. I did old si a lot which was a great tester for me. I would try and beat my time and up the weight. It was hard every time. The elevation gain is 920 feet per mile which anything around 1000 I consider tough.
Sunday – Off
That is what I did to train for Rainier. I also did Mt st helens & camp Muir for training. Helens I didn’t consider hard, it was just a very long slog with multiple false summits. The slush is what made it hard though and the long day. I also didn’t think Muir was too terribly hard. By 9000 feet you could feel the elevation. I was still cruisin. You just huff and puff a little bit harder and your legs are more fatigued. I was consistent and I pushed myself and for that my training paid off.
I remember a specific hike in my training where I truly felt I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was just a little over halfway done with my training. It was old si. I had roughly 40 pounds on. I was trying to beat my 2 hours up and go as fast as I could but that ruined me. I had to stop every few minutes because my legs were so tired and when I thought I was almost there, I really wasn’t. I had check points because I had done it so many times already. At that point I stopped in frustration and started crying. I told myself forget the time and go at a steady pace to where I could keep going. That was much better and I made it in 2 hours 6 minutes. Didn’t beat my time but it was okay. That struggle would make me stronger for the next time. I learned a lot throughout my training and it put me in the best shape of my life. I still train, just not as hard. I don’t want to lose what I worked so hard to gain. I carry weight still but only 25-30 lbs. I run stairs to keep up with my cardio and continue to keep up my strength training. I chose a training plan that was achievable and didn’t set myself up for failure. Keeping up with my training benefits me on my hikes. It makes them more enjoyable and the “hard” hikes are somewhat easy. Make yourself a priority and feel fortunate enough you can go out and enjoy what our state has to offer. Not everyone can do that.
(After the difficult hike on old si, I enjoy a beautiful view 😁)