Best way to train for a 14er?

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ghart999
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Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by ghart999 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:43 pm

Hello all. I am a 49 year old overweight male whose losing weight pretty rapidly. Down to 240. I live in Denver. My goal is to climb Mt. Quandry on the last day before I turn 50 (Aug 14th). I have been doing hikes around 8-9K feet and want to work my way up to higher elevation and vertical climbs. What would you recommend as the best way to do so? I know I am limited with higher elevation climbs until the weather gets better. So I feel limited right now. Should I look for the highest climbs I can until June-ish? Any recommendations for some tough climbs within 90 min of Denver that won't require snowshoes? I have Yaktraks for what it matters.

Also, any reason I shouldn't do Quandry as my first 14er? My wife will be coming and she's already done Bierstadt. So I don't want to make her repeat. Thank you all very much.
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Dave B
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by Dave B » Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:49 pm

Quandary is an ideal first 14er, Bierstadt and Sherman are good candidates as well.

If you peruse the "Overweight Climber" thread, you'll find that diet is a divisive topic. Training will be the same. I guarantee someone will mention Scott Johnson's book Training for the Uphill Athlete in this thread. Please ignore that suggestion (it's somewhat puritanical, aimed at elite race-level athletes trying to eek out small gains in performance, or at least folks who think they're at that level) and just go hiking more. Strength training to improve leg strength and core stability will always yield positive results, especially in conjunction with consistent cardiovascular workouts.

- walk/cycle/run/do something every day, even if it's something small
- strength train
- don't buy a heart rate monitor, ignore anyone who tells you you need one
- do a long hike every weekend, building up to larger elevation gains and distance (there are plenty of bigger vert opportunities at lower elevations; e.g. mountains above Boulder)
- keep it fun, the best workouts are the ones you want to do and will do consistently
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Alpine Guy
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by Alpine Guy » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:20 pm

Plenty of good training hikes near Denver.

Walker Ranch (8mi loop w/ two 900ft climbs) is one of my favorites.
White Ranch. Numerous loop opportunities that all start w/ a 1000+ft climb up a jeep road. No cars but lots of mtn bikes.
North Table Mtn near Golden. Not my favorite but it's there.
Thats just a sampling - really any trail of sufficient length, 5mi or more, is a good workout if you aren't in shape. I go to many different places just for the variety.
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by cougar » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:23 pm

http://www.listsofjohn.com/m/cougar

"If we don't change direction, we'll end up where we're going."
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by CoHi591 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:29 pm

Just hike as much as you can. Doesn't need to be high or far for now.

Mt Morrison is a good solid workout. So is Bergen Peak in Evergreen. The former dries out very quickly and can often be done year round without yaktraks etc, except for right after a storm. The latter will probably have icy spots.

Many of the foothills area hikes in both Golden and Boulder have decent elevation gain to train on. South Boulder peak via Shadow Canyon, Bear peak via Fern Canyon, make a loop of both, Green Mountain in Boulder via any route.

I run quite a bit now and it's good for a base fitness but I was not a runner at all when I started doing 14ers. I just loved hiking and did it several times a week at easy places like Apex and Falcon and the like. It translated perfectly well to hiking up those mountains.
The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by speth » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:33 pm

I'd also recommend a good set of stairs if you don't have access to hiking at regular intervals.
I'll be damned if I feel like I will ever know anything, but if we don't keep moving on that last hill, we'll never know what's on the other side.
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All I want is to just have fun, live my life like a son of a gun
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Sarcasm or not, it's not even funny to post something like this. Not at this time. Reported.
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WVMountaineer
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by WVMountaineer » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:36 pm

Welcome to the forum and I think it's awesome you are pursuing your goals and seeking the advice of the people on this forum for help. Everything Dave said is perfect. Just getting out more and pushing yourself a little harder with each outing should be plenty to help summit your first 14er. Your training will all add up in time whether it's further distance, more elevation gain, or just doing the same circuit at a faster pace. I like to baseline my fitness level by hiking the Manitou Springs "Incline" and recording my time to ascend. Quandary is a great first but the final push to summit (steep) will be soul crushing as your first peak. Just keep pushing, energy and weather permitting, and taking periodic breaks and you'll find yourself at the top.

Also, if you haven't done so already find a good day pack and start training with it so there isn't a difference between your training hikes and summit day. It'll also help you dial in your gear essentials, layers, and water needed to achieve the hike. Get one with a lap band that fits your frame (now and then with your continued weight loss) so that it distributes your pack weight to your hips rather than your gear weight distributed to your shoulders. Hiking Poles were a game changer for me so it may not hurt for you to find a cheap set and try them out so see if they help you. Other than additional stability, poles allow you to transfer some upper body force into the ground and taking some of the load off your legs and could extend your range.

If you plan now and tailor your goals and training, you should be able to give Quandary a summit attempt sometime in July or early August giving you an extra attempt if needed. That way if you didn't make the summit on your first attempt you won't be kicking yourself as bad for not meeting your birthday deadline. July afternoons above treeline have lightning pretty much every day so plan your hike accordingly --> Start early before sunrise and plan to summit and be back below treeline by noon if not earlier. Lightning hazards are a bit less mid August but should still be alert.

Congrats on the weight you've lost so far and I wish you nothing but success in achieving your goal.

By the way, it's not called Mt. Quandry it's "Quandary Peak"

Cheers,
WV
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by Bean » Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:23 pm

Dave B wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:49 pm
If you peruse the "Overweight Climber" thread, you'll find that diet is a divisive topic. Training will be the same. I guarantee someone will mention Scott Johnson's book Training for the Uphill Athlete in this thread. Please ignore that suggestion (it's somewhat puritanical, aimed at elite race-level athletes trying to eek out small gains in performance, or at least folks who think they're at that level) and just go hiking more. Strength training to improve leg strength and core stability will always yield positive results, especially in conjunction with consistent cardiovascular workouts.

- walk/cycle/run/do something every day, even if it's something small
- strength train
- don't buy a heart rate monitor, ignore anyone who tells you you need one
- do a long hike every weekend, building up to larger elevation gains and distance (there are plenty of bigger vert opportunities at lower elevations; e.g. mountains above Boulder)
- keep it fun, the best workouts are the ones you want to do and will do consistently
Nailed it. Especially regarding TFTUA/TFTNA. Most people could see consistent gainz for years following this advice.
"There are no hard 14ers, but some are easier than others." - Scott P
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rpdawes
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by rpdawes » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:12 pm

Last summer at age of 80, I summit ed seven 13ers without any prior training. Did my weekly routine of walking 3 to 5 miles near my home and hiking mountains 8,000 to 13,000 feet high as often as possible. To me, training is a waste of time unless you climb Mt. Everest.

Happy trails!
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by madbuck » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:24 pm

Dave B wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:49 pm
I guarantee someone will mention Scott Johnson's book Training for the Uphill Athlete in this thread. Please ignore that suggestion (it's somewhat puritanical, aimed at elite race-level athletes trying to eek out small gains in performance, or at least folks who think they're at that level) and just go hiking more.
Ha. With the search feature, this book was mentioned in one throwaway thread in the context of optimality (or, at best, ambiguity). IMHO, it is an interesting and useful book within the admittedly small niche of hobbyists wanting to hike fast, which is a different than the more specific question here. (And also a different question than training for 'climbing' instead of hiking). I guess you don't like that book -- that's OK too!
Dave B wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:49 pm
- walk/cycle/run/do something every day, even if it's something small
- strength train
- don't buy a heart rate monitor, ignore anyone who tells you you need one
- do a long hike every weekend, building up to larger elevation gains and distance (there are plenty of bigger vert opportunities at lower elevations; e.g. mountains above Boulder)
- keep it fun, the best workouts are the ones you want to do and will do consistently
This is right. I actually dislike weight training and core as much as others might hate running regularly, but then realize carrying my kids around and playing adds up to something. In a similar way, I'd add finding the 'sneaky' ways to add some activity, especially if your/our job involves sitting a lot. Can you ride or walk all or part of the way to work, the grocery store, church, etc.? Everything takes time, but overlapping increased activity with other regular errands is both time-efficient and helps establish habits. And definitely take advantage of the local foothills trails (and even bike paths when the trails are muddy) if it helps you get out regularly, also more efficient than spending a lot of time driving to higher trails until conditions are more favourable. The major variables are not just elevation, but also distance, elevation gain, and time on the feet, so aim for making longer and steeper hikes increasingly more familiar and comfortable. Plenty of great trails to explore the next 4 months in a great place to do it. Good luck!
Last edited by madbuck on Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
peter303
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by peter303 » Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:25 am

Doing incrementally reduced versions of the major activity you plan is the way to go.
With 14ers you want to train for endurance, i.e. 2-3 hours of sustained uphill hiking. And train for thinner air at altitude.
And it should be FUN- plenty of such locations in Colorado.

My spring training is to drive to open mountain passes in May and hike from there. Usually great views during such training hikes. Candidates include Ricky Mountain Park Trail Ridge Road just before its May opening.
And Loveland Pass.
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Re: Best way to train for a 14er?

Post by Trotter » Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:24 am

Mt Falcon from the east side is an excellent 14er warmup. 2000 feet gain, like 6 miles, and very close to denver

Also Mt Sniktau on loveland pass, once you start getting closer. A very easy 13er
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. -Nelson Mandela
Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called Ego. -Nietzsche
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