Training for a Traverse

in Community/Skills by

The weather gets a bit challenging for hikers this time of year. All of our warm sun-filled days have fled and the lowlands are sloppy, while the highlands are avalanche prone and harder to access for most of us. So we turn to training to keep in shape for the next season. In the past we’ve shown some stretches and some strengthening exercises that any hiker can do to increase their endurance and abilities on the trail. But how do the more extreme adventurers among us train for their next challenges?

Polar Explorer Eric Larsen trains like this

But it doesn’t do any good to train if the training won’t help you in your endeavor. I know, I know: ballet for football players and all that, but stick with me. If you use the same muscles in your training as you will for your actual endeavor, you’re putting yourself ahead. Yes, do ballet and yoga too, but remember that it’s the strength of those quads and hams that will get you up a mountain.

Seven Summits summiteer AC Sherpa trains by playing basketball sometimes (because he likes it) but mostly by just going up mountains. When he’s not in the Himalayas guiding a group, you may find him on Mt Si with a 50 pound pack on his back, or on a quick jaunt up Mt Rainier. Practice, practice.

AC on Mt Si

What if you can’t even get to the mountains regularly? Get as close as you can. I don’t have a gym membership, so I run stairs and hills in my neighborhood. A set of bleacher stairs is usually pretty easy to find. And in the Seattle area, you’re probably not too far from a good running hill. Run up it a few times a week until it seems easy. Then find a harder one. Challenge yourself and above all, get out and do it often so when you are attempting your traverse or your summit, you’ll enjoy it that much more.

Just a little motivation for your New Year endeavors. Happy hiking!


A native of Minnesota, Erika moved to Seattle in the late 90s and immediately fell in love with the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. She is a photographer, specializing in landscapes, though she enjoys capturing people as well. Her travels have taken her from Newfoundland to Belize, From Paris to Nepal. She has written a book about her trek through Nepal and is the editor of SBM. Erika currently resides in Kirkland with her husband and two sons.

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