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Training and Preparation

Posted on Wednesday 18th January, 2012

We have had very strange weather here in the Blue Mountains lately with quite a few cold and wet days even though its the middle of summer. This has been great for my fitness training however! I am very fortunate to live in the middle of such an awesome training ground as the towns on the mountains are all situated on the top of the plateau. Mostly all the trails into the national park almost immediately start to head down into the valleys providing lots of ascent and descent. There are so many different combinations of trails to train on that you can mix up distance with up and down with loads of stair climbing. Most tracks, even the ones on the plateau, have hills and are quite technical. My favourite trails are through Leura forest and Federal pass in Katoomba, out to Mt Solitary and back to Narrowneck and from Perrys Lookdown to Lockleys Pylon and back here in Blackheath. At the moment I try to run out to Mt Solitary and back once a week.

Looking out at Mt. Solitary from the top of the Golden Stairs on Narrowneck

Summer trail running can bring a few slippery surprises...

I am also crossing the Grose Valley (Perrys- Lockleys- Perrys) once a week but not with a heavy backpack. This crossing incorporates 1200mt of ascent which is fantastic training for mountaineering. Soon I will take my pack with me and a 15 litre water drum. I plan to run down with the empty pack and fill the drum in the river at the bottom then carry it on the ascent, empty at the top, run down, fill it up etc. Then the next step is to do the double crossing with the back pack so I get 2400mt of ascent in one session. I don’t want to train too much with the pack just yet because it is quite hard on the knees so I am focussing more on fitness and endurance. It is important to have a strong heart at high altitude because it beats very fast just resting up there. It works extremely hard when you climb and exert yourself above 8000mt.


Looking across the valley to Perrys Lookdown and Blue Gum Forest down by the river

Apart from hiking and running trails I love riding my road bike down into the Megalong Valley from my home in Blackheath and back again as it has a fair amount of steep hill climbing. I find that road riding is really good cardio and strengthens my knees for trail running. I also ride my mountain bike on single track and fire trails. I really enjoy rockclimbing so when the weather is good I often head out with friends to climb locally or go indoors at Villawood Climbing Gym. There has been times when I have been very focussed on rockclimbing and every spare moment has been dedicated to it. At the moment though I am more focussed on training for my current project so I feel less psyched than normal about improving my climbing.

Riding in the Megalong Valley

During the summer, when I am not teaching Outdoor Recreation at TAFE, I work casually as a canyon guide for the local company High and Wild. So even when I am at work I get to exercise and carry a pack! Most days after work I will road ride or go for an hour trail run. I only really have one rest day a week and sometimes that rest day may just be canyon guiding without doing extra exercise after work. Of course doing all this training means that I need to eat enough to keep my energy levels high. I generally eat quite healthy apart from my chocolate addiction. I like to eat lots of protein, carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables. Everest was the first mountain that I climbed eating meat as before then I was vegetarian. I really think it makes a big difference to my strength and muscle recovery to eat meat now for protein.

At the moment I am working with the freeze dried food company Back Country Cuisine to taylor my high altitude food for Manaslu and Lhotse. I used their meals on my Everest expedition and some worked really well for me but others I felt didn’t taste so good at such high altitude. That was mostly due to the fact that water boils at such a low temperature it is hard to reconstitute the ingredients properly. So they are helping to make meals for me that I think will work better which is fantastic for this expedition.

So back to training it is, its great to feel so psyched right now! In fact I feel fitter now than before I left for Everest!

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