Thursday, September 11, 2008

Training Routes

Yesterday I was able to get back on one of my area training routes; the east ridge of the Untersberg (with variations to the standard route). I like to ride my mountain bike to the approach trail, then hike up to the route, climb, hike down and bike out. The bike ride is about 30 minutes. The approach is about 60 to 90 minutes and 1000 meters of elevation gain, climbing goes between UIAA III – IV for about 400 meters (with some exposed hiking linking up climbing sections). The descent and ride home take between 90 minutes and two hours.

A training route such as this gives you a nice warm-up, an aerobic power workout and sport-specific skill work. Of course the volume is also great, with 2 to 3 hours going up and about 90 minutes to 2 hours coming down. The whole thing takes more or less four and one-half hours.

The greatest benefit of such a workout is developing the ability to move fast over moderate terrain, transition from hiking to climbing and developing a feel for pacing and concentration for exposed climbing while being aerobically taxed.

Kelly Cordes talks a bit about this in his piece for Patagonia, “Somthin Bout Nothin”. (

I think it’s really important to have a handful of training routes within a very close distance to your front door. Off the top of my head that means for me the Kleine Watzmann south face, south ridge and routes on the west face, routes on the south face of the Untersberg and routes on the east face of the Watzmann. I can get to these routes by mountain bike and hiking various trails. The climbing is between UIAA II - IV and from 350 to 700 meters of elevation. With a total amount of elevation gain from 1400 meters to a bit over 2000 meters.

I try to add variety to the climbs by wearing different footwear, testing clothing systems and equipment, carrying various amounts of weight and also trying for super light, fast times. I know what my level of fitness is by my established times on the various routes.

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