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Book Review: “Training for the New Alpinism”

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Patagonia Books


464 pages

By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

In 2002, world-renowned alpinist Steve House thought he was ready for the big leagues of mountaineering. Recent successes on Alaska’s Denali and Mount Foraker gave him confidence he could climb large objectives in the Himalaya. But at nearly 23,000 feet on Nuptse’s south face his fitness failed him, and again on Masherbrum in June 2003.

A visit to his friend Scott Johnston after the Masherbrum attempt revealed a surprising problem in his fitness: he had over trained.

In their new book “Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete” House and Johnston describe the science behind training for big mountain objectives, and provide a detailed approach for success.

A former Nordic ski racer, Johnston currently coaches some of the nation’s top cross country skiers and is also an accomplished climber. In their comprehensive manual, House and Johnston stress that to reach their full potential, alpinists must train like other endurance athletes and understand the physiology of fitness.

With a forward by renowned climbing writer Mark Twight, striking photography of athletes pushing the limits high in the mountains, and essays from top-level climbers including Ueli Steck, Ines Papert and Will Gadd, the book offers inspiration along with instruction.

Because of an inclination to “just go climbing” as training for their alpine pursuits, many alpinists plateau, say House and Johnston. The authors explain how applying training practices from other endurance sports like running, cycling and skiing leads to better performance – and in turn be a game-changer for high-level mountain climbing.

The book also covers strength training theory and methodology, nutrition, altitude adaptation, mental fitness and assessing your goals and strengths. A 25-page section with color illustrations gives an easily followed, step-by-step strength training regimen you can do at home to boost your alpine fitness.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or planning to climb above 8,000 meters, “Training for the New Alpinism” is a must-read.

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