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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
May 192014
 
Winds off Longs pPeak North Face

I am preparing to climb K2 like I never prepared before. After all K2 is like no other mountain on earth and deserves immense respect.

My strategy is based on what I used for the 7 Summits in 2011 and Manaslu just 6 months ago. It uses real-world training to develop strength, medicine endurance and mental toughness. My weekly goal is do one long climb lasting from 8 to 12 hours and two other shorter climbs of 4 hours

For example, healing in the last two weeks I did three 1,500 foot snow couloir climbs, two climbs reaching 13,000′ and summited two 14,000′ mountains all here in Colorado. A total of seven outings in 14 days.

I try to climb at a pace or rate of 1,500 feet per hour with a 20 – 30pound pack. All of these have been in somewhat winter conditions as we have had a banner year for snow in Colorado.

The goal for the shorter climbs is to push myself hard physically to work my cardio vascular systems and large muscles development. The goal for the longer days is to work on my pacing, stamina but most importantly, my mental toughness. Taking adequate rest days is critical, especially at my age, to let my body recover.

Real-World Training

There are many reasons I like to do real-world training as opposed to gym workouts. Before I go on, let me stress that I am fortunate to live in Colorado, close to high mountains. Also, many, many climbers use gym programs with personal trainers or Crossfit very successfully. My approach is just works for me.

There are three primary benefits I experience:

  1. Walking in deep snow or uneven terrain works the tiny muscles, tendons and ligaments that are sometimes ignored with machine workouts.
  2. Being outdoors is exactly what I’ll be doing on K2 experiencing all kinds of weather from gusty winds, to wide ranges in temperatures as the sun moves in and out of the clouds.
  3.  I can do a 12 hour day when summiting a hard mountain with a long approach where I cannot imagine spending 12 hours indoors on a stairmaster! 🙂

Another benefit is I get to use all my gear, find out what works, what needs modifications or replacing. Also, I get to experiment with hydration and nutrition.

Working on Mental Toughness

This is a short video I made yesterday, May 18, 2014, while climbing Longs Peak, 14,256′ in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a perfect day to work on my mental toughness. A few days earlier, we had a huge spring snowstorm that dumped over two feet of fresh snow on Longs. No one else had been to the summit so I had to break trail from 11,000′ to the summit in one to three foot snow depths.

At times, I felt I was going a bit too slow and worried about running out if sunlight, but this is exactly what I wanted – to push myself outside my comfort zone and to test myself both physically and mentally. This came on top of four previous days of climbing above 13,000′, so with only one rest day, it was a good test of my overall fitness.

One of my measures of my fitness is my recovery time and how wasted I feel at the end of the day. I was very pleased that while tired, I felt strong after 11 and half hours of non-stop movement in deep snow.

Preparing for Alzheimer’s

While talking about preparation, I want to add a quick note on preparing for Alzheimer’s. I know I was totally unprepared for dealing with my Mom’s Alzheimer’s. One of the areas I was glad we had taken care of was living wills so as a family we knew what mom wanted in such a terminal situation – no tubes, no life support, let nature take it’s course.

Another area we had to do quickly once the of Alzheimer’s came was to create a Power of Attorney so we could take care of her fianlical matters. This included managing medical payments, taking care of the house and a hundred other small details. We could have been more proactive by adding our names to bank account and on the house deed earlier.

Finally, as a family, and it was just my brother and I, had to agree on the approach to caring for mom. This area has the potential to tear siblings apart. So my advice is to work hard to get everyone on the same page as early as possible so as to focus on your loved one and not the infighting.

I hope you never go through what we did but the reality is that  in the time it took to read this section another person was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the US. The crisis is real and gaining momentum. It is up to all for us to fight the disease and to improves support for caregivers. Please join me in this fight by clicking on this link.

Climb On!

Alan

Memories are Everything

 

Comments on/from Facebook

  33 Responses to “K2: Training for the Climb”

  1.  

    Wow! Just watched this video-beautiful day but the exposure-eek! Vertigo! I’ll just enjoy the videos and pictures 🙂

  2.  

    well done and best off luck from ireland with k2

  3.  

    Nice video! Looks fun! Just when I think I’m done with climbing…

  4.  

    Alan, unless you had a silent partner with you I assume you were training alone. Personally, I love hiking and climbing alone, but then think of all the stupid little accidents that can turn into something serious. If you train alone sometimes, can you tell us what extra safety measures you might employ to maximize your safety? When alone I always carry first aid kit, knife, headlamp, food, and enough clothes to stay the night in the woods if I need to. I also carry a cheap 12-mile-range radio and cell phone. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks

    •  

      Thanks Mike, due to my open schedule, I do a lot of solo climbing so in addition to what you list, I always make sure someone knows where I am going and expected time back. I also carry a fully charged cell phone and check to make sure I can get a connection in the area I’m going into. I also take a small stove, fuel and bowl to melt snow in the winter for water. Overall, the extra’s add up to a couple of pounds and not much mass so a good investment. I wrote a blog post on this very subject in 2009 and it applies nicely 5 years later. https://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2009/11/04/whats-in-your-pack-14ers/

      •  

        Thanks Alan. It’s always great to here from an expert. That’s still a good blog (2009). I agree with all your items and carry almost all of them depending on the length of my stay and whether I know the area well or not. Your list will come in handy for a couple of planned summer treks this year. Take care.
        Mike

  5.  

    Alan , Wish you the best always, Did you ever get ahold of the Dr at UCI and find out what research they were doing on Alzheimer?

  6.  

    Hi Alan – thanks for sharing your experiences, especially with us “wannabees” who can enjoy what you do, vicariously. You sound like a nice guy with no hidden agendas, and it’s fun to follow your blog. Good luck on your K-2 preparation, and please keep your fans in the loop.

  7.  

    Takes mental toughness to climb Longs w/o snow!

  8.  

    Hi Alan,

    Are you going to do Rainier again before K2 and, if so, which route? That’s going to be my “K2” in the next couple of years (over 50 and fairly new to climbing myself, but a long time follower).

    I’m so excited to follow you on your blog and to watch the meter go up on the contributions. I just made mine and I’m nudging everyone I know!

    Success on both endeavors!

    Beth

    •  

      Thank you so much Beth! This is why I doing K2. No plans for Rainier, I’m finding my Colorado 14ers a good training ground. Rainier is a great, as close to the Himalaya as you can get in the lower 48.

  9.  

    Real world training all the way. K2 is definitely not a cozy climate controlled gym.

    #nature doesn’t charge a monthly fee

  10.  

    Alan, you’re having too much fun on your mental toughness days! The wind only looked like 50 mph gusts! 😉

  11.  

    Alan…you sound great and very impressed with your training and love the videos…I hiked Baldy this past weekend in the land of the fires and hoping for some rain. Da Nuru Sherpa, who was with me on Everest, stopped by our home in Huntington Beach on his way to Denali to help the Rangers there. We had a fantastic time with him…an incredible human being. Keep up the wonderful work and we are praying that Bill Burke has a successful climb for us “oldies but goodies.”
    “One day at a time!”

    John
    🙂

    •  

      Thanks John. I’m pretty sure I saw Da Nuru on Denali in 2011? Yes, pulling for Bill, he left for the summit (Everest-North) yesterday and is at ABC today. I really think he will make it. He sounds very confident.

  12.  

    Great mental toughness climb on Longs Peak yesterday! And excellent words of wisdom on training and preparing both on the mountain and life’s challenges. Really good…

  13.  

    Hi Alan,Did you descend long peak the same way you went up? If so a testy descent?

    •  

      Yes Clive, Keyhole up and down. Considered taking the Loft but figured I could use my own tracks and down faster – took about half the up climb due to not having to break trail … and gravity 🙂

  14.  

    Well done Alan!!! 🙂

  15.  

    Yeah saw you guys Sam. I thought about saying hello to be a friendly, stinky climber but that burrito at Eds was calling to loudly. :). Next time.

  16.  

    Dang it! That WAS you at the TH last night. Never met you in person and would have loved to shake your hand. I was next to blue mini enjoying a post climb beer 🙂

  17.  

    Ah ok that’s understandable. I really respect your focus and the reasons why. My family have a history of Alzheimers too and I know how destructive it can be. I just wish I had the time to spend in the mountains like you do but you never know, one day it just might come my way. Thanks 🙂

  18.  

    Ah ok that’s understandable. I really respect your focus and the reasons why. My family have a history of Alzheimers too and I know how destructive it can be. I just wish I had the time to spend in the mountains like you do but you never know, one day it just might come my way. Thanks 🙂

  19.  

    Hi Linda. I took early retirement to oversee the care of my mom. Now I have three main areas of focus: Alzheimer’s advocacy, climbing and speaking. When I did work full time, it was tough to train like I do today but where there’s a will there’s a way 🙂

  20.  

    Hi Linda. I took early retirement to oversee the care of my mom. Now I have three main areas of focus: Alzheimer’s advocacy, climbing and speaking. When I did work full time, it was tough to train like I do today but where there’s a will there’s a way 🙂

  21.  

    Hey Alan, great work. I take it you no longer work as I don’t know how you find the time for the hill workouts you do. I’d much prefer to train as you do but my job means I have to work around that through the week and then do what I can outdoors at the weekend.

  22.  

    Hey Alan, great work. I take it you no longer work as I don’t know how you find the time for the hill workouts you do. I’d much prefer to train as you do but my job means I have to work around that through the week and then do what I can outdoors at the weekend.

  23.  

    thanks. Should work. I just tested again.

  24.  

    Hi Alan, I can’t get your video to load. Is it me? It sure sounds like you are ready for K2, although I am not sure if anyone can really be prepared for it. Wishing you all the luck in the world. Please stay safe!