Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jenny's Recap

All the literature and websites in the world can't really prepare you for what it is really like up on the mountain and how well or not you will respond to it. Firstly, what a really really fabulous experience! The mountain is completely gorgeous, the views breathtaking and being immersed amongst it all fairly phenomenal. I was also blessed with really great weather which made it all the more magical. But lets be realistic about mountain climbing- it is not easy!!! Of the 14,400ft to the summit, my personal summit was 12,600ft - an elevation I was completely ecstatic to reach once I had the chance to really test my fitness and preparation against the mountain herself.

When you are told to be in the shape of your life you really do need to be, but it is hard to understand what that really means until you test it. On reflection, there was not much else I could have squeezed into my training program given my work schedule, but for next time (and there will be a next time!) I need to make sure I do more! For me, apart from swapping jobs to allow for more time, I think that would involve training as if for a marathon, or interval training, to really build up my cardiovascular fitness which I gather will also help with dealing with altitude. One of my team mates used a recommended Denali training program he found on the internet which worked well for him.

I had minimal problems with gear which was all loaned from RMI except for my harness which had to be swapped out for a more female friendly 'pee on the side of the mountain while roped to your team without taking it off' type, but which I found felt like it restricted my breathing. So perhaps I would purchase one and spend some time getting comfortable with it prior to the climb.

So for anyone who read this blog and are thinking of or working towards a Rainier climb, my big tip is whatever you are doing for preparation, definitely try to squeeze in MORE, you can never underestimate how helpful that will be. And whether you make it to the top or not, you will have a great time! A huge thanks to the wonderful guides and all the staff at RMI for a fantastic trip, I will see you all next time :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jenny is ready to climb

Today I head to Ashford Washington so ths is the last entry prior to the climb. The last two weeks have seen an increase in the amount of leg strengthening and stair climbing in preparation for the climb. I began hiking to work with a laden backpack, as well as engaging in focused sessions in my apartment building- creeping up and down from the ground to 5th floor in reps of ten, trying not to wake my neighbours at 6am! Then toss in a couple of gym sessions and a surprisingly energetic hip hop dance class. I have full respect for how fit dancers are!

I just spent 4 days in beautiful San Francisco visiting family and taking advantage of the hills! Running up and down the 45 degree slopes was a brilliant reminder of what a difference real inclines make in your training. I managed to find a particularly steep section of taylor street just on the edge of downtown where they have had to put steps in the footpath to scale the 7 floors between cross roads which I ran up and down and up and down and up and get the jist. I was actually quite surprised to find many others doing the same thing and taking advantage of the natural geography as an outdoor gym. There is also nothing quite like topping a hill and seeing the majestic view down to fishermans warf, the bay and the golden gate bridge. Breathtaking.

So that concludes the preparation. I can only hope it was enough to ensure I really enjoy it on the mountain. I am now looking forward to finally beginning the next phase of ths adventure, wish me luck!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Update from Jenny

God bless the gym. If I hadn't joined, I think I would be in a lot of trouble regarding my fitness preparations for this trip given my workload. Added to this I just discovered the best class - kickboxing! Ignore that a lot of the moves are designed to take out an opponent in what is essentially a grotesquely violent manner - elbow to the head, side of foot to the knee cap etc- it is quite the well rounded workout that uses most of the muscles of the body, develops coordination, balance, and is very high in aerobic exercise at the same time. And bonus, there is a little self defense training in there as well! Being a passivist though (make love not war!), I try not to see the punching bag as anything other than a big black blob.

With only two and a half weeks to go, time seems to have crept up on me quite quickly. I recognize that however fit I am at sea level here in New York, adding altitude to the exercise will be establishing a whole new playing field for when up at the mountain. For the next two weeks, I will be looking to increase the resistance level on the gym equipment, and frequency of my workouts to really squeeze the most out of the time I have left. I finally got hold of a backpack from a friend (what, you say- an Australian who doesn't own a back back??? I know, crazy!) and will begin hiking to work. There are not a lot of (or any actually) hills in downtown Manhattan, but it will be good to get used to having the pack on my back. And there are enough really strange people in the city that I shouldn't really look that odd doing so.

I recently spent some time googling images of Mt Rainier, and I am keeping some shots taken of the spectacular view from the bare rim of the crater at the summit in front of me as my carrot to give it all I can. Lets hope I get to take my own similar shots in just a couple of weeks!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ok, here is the next installment in the adventures of Jenny's training.....

What an insane few weeks it has been since last I wrote! I have just come off the back of three 80 hour weeks and am pretty exhausted! Throw in there a bout of borderline flue and it has been quite the experience. So needless to say, I haven't had a huge amount of time to do much else but work and sleep. Thankfully I had joined the gym down the street from work so have been managing to squeeze a 1 hour trip to the gym every few days, typically at 9pm at night as I am now usually in a meeting over lunch, before then heading back to work for another hour or two to wrap up the day. Did I mention I am an architect? For anyone considering this profession, I encourage you to think long and hard about it first, it can be quite unrelenting!

I am sad to say that I never made it to the biathlon that I signed up for, mainly due to poor logistics on my behalf. When I signed up for it I didn't pay attention to exactly where and when it was and discovered I need to be on the subway heading to the outer limits of the Bronx at 5am on a Sunday morning. Not a very smart idea from a personal safety point of view so I chose instead to cruise around central park on what was the first truly hot weekend this year. Needless to say EVERYONE was out to enjoy the spectacular weather so central park turned into a bit of an obstacle course laden with cyclists, tourists, horses, children, dogs and rollerbladers everywhere. The Hudson River park - another good spot to stretch ones legs on the bike- was no better, but damn it was beautiful! Added to this, I have noticed an old tendonitis problem flaring up in my ankles so skipping out on the biathlon run was probably a good idea. No point in agitating it with a long run. While the nuisanse is ever so small, I have been to see a physical therapist to ensure it stays that way (or better, goes away), and swapped across from the treadmill to the elipse machine (that's what I think it is called) in the gym which is good for cardiovascular fitness while elimating the pressure on the ankle that is recieved from running.

Well, with only 3 1/2 weeks to go, I need to make sure these count!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Update from Jenny

Whoever coined the term change is as good as a holiday was certainly onto something. My big recent change? Moving! Not a huge move geographically, I really just moved into the next suburb, but a wonderful psychological spring clean up to the 5th floor of a walk up in the East Village! The move has left me feeling re energized, and allowed for some changes to my daily routine, as well as a friendly wake up call regarding what I can realistically get done regarding training in the next 7 weeks, and what I need to be working a bit harder on.

This change has brought with it a few wonderful lifestyle in-builts – packing, moving place and then unpacking was great exercise, especially with all those stairs. And now, I get in-built daily stair training exercise. I am now also a little further from work which means 30 minute longer round trip walk everyday.

To my complete surprise, I actually joined the gym down the street from my office ....and I like the place! Who would have thought? Still chronically time poor, I have started going for a quick training session at lunch, namely a run on a treadmill, which is a damn site safer than navigating the crowds of NY streets at midday, followed by some strengthening exercises and stretching. It has started out as a quick 30 minute session; I slap out a couple of miles on the mill and am back at my desk for the afternoon round of meetings. It has been a long time since I used to run for exercise, possibly back in high school, so a 20 minute run without stopping has me pretty pleased at the moment. The plan though is that every time I go to the gym, I will add on an extra minute or two till hopefully, by the end of the month, I should be comfortably running for 45 minutes and still get back to my desk in a timely manner! As motivation to do this, and to provide a shorter term goal, I have signed up to participate in a biathlon on April 25, involving a 3 mile run, then 18 mile bike ride, then 3 mile run again.

So those were a couple of wins for the last fortnight. On reassessment of some of my earlier goals, I recognize that there are a few things that probably won’t happen before Ranier - actual hiking outdoors for instance. A bout of mild food poisoning last weekend meant I didn’t get to enjoy the sunshine on my bike, but some research for work will take me touring the Staten Island Bluebelt on two wheels this weekend so lets hope for some good weather!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Update from Jenny

For this update on my training and preparations over the last two weeks there is both good news and bad news-

Good news- I had a couple of great sessions in the gym and a couple of lengthy bike rides around central park and prospect park. I can't keep up with the regular crowd zipping around in their multicolored sponsored gear representing italian dishwashing liquid and the like, but I am giving it a damn fine shot and riding hard and long enough to get a good workout!
Bad news- I was short of the quota of sessions I was aiming for. Amanda and other friends were also busy so I wasn't able arrange as many play dates as I hoped.
Good news- I put in an application on a new apartment. It happens to be on the 5th floor which means plenty of stairs everyday so fingers crossed I get accepted! Moving in should also be a good workout.
Bad news- next week looks like another busy one and with only two months left I really need to be picking up my game somewhat if I am going to maximize my enjoyment on Rainier.
Good news- there is a gym down the street from work. While I am generally allergic to public gyms, I think it may provide the structure and ease of access for exercise that I need given my generally hectic schedule. Added to that several people from work are members so I will have company, and there is a great introductory offer online at the moment.
And more good news, I have just discovered an outdoors hiking group with an upcoming open day so perhaps this is the opportunity to get out of the concrete jungle for a spell.
Until the next installment when hopefully it will be all good news.....


Monday, March 9, 2009

1. I’m committed to a climb that is six months from now. I’m beginning to train for this climb and I want to know what to eat. What foods, if any, should I start
cutting out of my daily diet and what foods can I eat that will help?

Mountain climbing is a serious undertaking. It requires you to be in peak physical condition on summit day. Six months beforehand is not too soon to get started! Well-prepared climbers share a strong nutritional foundation. The foods they eat supply enough nutrients and calories to meet their every-day nutritional needs and fuel daily workouts. In other words,successful climbers eat in a way that sets them for what is really needed--and that’s Vitamin T, as in Training.
Opt for a carbohydrate-rich diet built on nutritional powerhouses like whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat bread) and beans/lentils (chili, lentil soup, bean burritos) and low-fat milk and yogurt. Add quality protein like lean red meat, poultry (skip the skin), eggs and plenty of omega-3 rich fish (at least two servings a week). Load up on powerful antioxidants, which naturally promote good health and boost your immune system, by eating two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables daily. Avoid or limit foods such as alcohol,soda, fatty meats and super-sized desserts that squeeze out the healthier foods your body needs to tolerate strenuous workouts, bolster your immune system and build lean muscle mass.
How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Plan ahead and be prepared. Choose to eat breakfast, make time for lunch and sit down for dinner—every day. Schedule a regular weekly trip to the grocery store and always keep healthful snacks on hand at your desk, in your gym bag and when you travel. The bottom line: when it comes to daily food choices, the greatest benefits come from eating in a way that leaves you physically ready and mentally
prepared to train.

2. I need to lose some weight before my climb. What is the best way to do this
and still have enough energy to train?

Don’t count calories, make your calories count. Active people often struggle to lose weight because they skip meals or diet during the day, only to backload the calories in at night. Concentrate on timing when you eat your meals and snacks with when you exercise. Plan to exercise one to three hours following a meal so you’re brain and muscles are properly fueled. Missed or sub-par workouts due to being too tired, rundown or unmotivated from poor eating habits won’t help you get or stay fit.
Following exercise, you’ll still want to speed your recovery by taking advantage of the “carbohydrate window.” Don’t rely on sports foods, like sports drinks and bars. Save those for when you really need them—during prolonged and intense exercise bouts. Instead, eat a healthy snack. Aim for real foods from two foods groups –like peanut butter on an apple or lowfat yogurt and whole grain cereal. Better still, sit down to your next planned meal.Remember, fitness leads to leanness. Losing weight does not automatically lead to improved fitness. To reach the leanest weight that’s healthy for your body, eat balanced meals and snacks and focus on training consistently. The following tips can help active people trim calories and keep training:
1. Limit or eliminate “liquid calories:” alcohol, soda, vitamin waters, flavored coffee drinks, energy drinks/shakes and super-sized fruit juices and smoothies.
2. Be smart with sports foods (energy bars, gels, Bloks and drinks): If you’re not training at a moderate intensity for at least 60 to 90 continuous minutes, you don’t need to supplement with sports foods before or during exercise. If you’re not working out that day, you don’t need them at all.
3. Cut the fat, not the fun: It’s tempting to try to avoid all sweets and other high-fat treats when weight loss is the goal. Get too hungry or feel deprived, however, and it doesn’t work. For the long haul, build in modest servings of your favorite “fun foods” at least three times a week. Enjoy at the end of a meal, not on an empty stomach.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Update from RMI Client Jenny

* Note Jenny will be climbing Mt Rainier with RMI on May 27-May 31, she will be blogging once in awhile to update us on her progress*

Well, it’s been two weeks since my ‘call to self’ to begin a motivated training regime for the climb in May. For all the enthusiasm, it’s been, sorry to say, a bit of a slow start as it is has been hard to find the time for exercise. Ok, I can blame my 10-12 hour a day job, the fact that I am also in the middle of apt hunting for a new place to live as I near the end of my lease, desperately trying to maintain a social life and just general shear exhaustion from all of the above. Or, I can accept that they are all excuses to some degree. Real barriers, but still excuses.

So what did I manage to get done? I am stretching and doing core strength exercises everday- not a full 30 minutes as planned but still something everyday. I did manage one good session with my wonderful friend Amanda (who is in training for a half marathon) at the gym in her apartment building, and a whole lotta walking, what with looking at new places to live and the 1 hour round trip to work everyday. I seem to be looking at apts on upper floors in walk ups so indirectly have been getting a bit of a work out on stairs. Did I not mention previously that it works best if it is integrated into my daily activities? I also did some extra mental preparation and watched the Everest Imax film on Netflix and was blown away by the shear beauty of being on the mountain so I am still pretty excited about it all. Finally, for the first time ever, I have started taking note of how much fat and sugar is in my food and trying to limit this and eat as much fresh fruit and veg as someone who is lazy about eating can handle for the meantime. Small steps but all in the right direction I say!

My next tasks- Due to a cold snap and snowstorm this week, there wasn’t any outdoor running or cycling. Hopefully that is the last I see this winter of the ice, snow and consequential road salt which tends to wreak havoc on my bike, and so can begin to play outdoors again. However, over the next two week my core focus is going to be to incrementally squeeze in more work out sessions with Amanda who had about the same amount of success with her preparation. Hopefully we can motivate each other to up the ante and FIND the time we need each week to achieve the ultimate goals we have set!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

RMI Clients share their stories

From time to time, we will have folks that are heading up Mt Rainier or other mountains blog about their experiences leading up to their climb, and hopefully a recap after.
If you are interested in sharing your story, drop us an email at

Our first brave sole is Jenny. Thanks Jenny, we look forward to your blogs in the future.

Last year I would have considered myself reasonably fit. Then came winter in New York and since having grounded my bike I have been relegated to the indoors. My desk job and general aversion to the gym has, needless to say, set me quite the challenge for the May 27-31 Mt Rainier Summit climb. Good, I do like a challenge! And just as well as a recent jog around the block with the first sign of warmer weather definitely highlighted that I have my work cut out for me. Having initially read through the RMI website, several climbing blog sites and a few autobiographical accounts of world class mountaineers (from the comfort of my lounge chair of course) I am aiming to be as fit as possible so as to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.

I know myself well enough to recognize a few key things in my preparation. Firstly, I am pretty time poor so if I can’t slot training and preparation into my everyday lifestyle I won’t maintain consistency with it. Secondly, exercising with people is a lot more motivating and fun; and thirdly, I can get bored of repetitive routines so I need to chop and change my schedule enough to keep me interested.

My semi head start- I took the opportunity during the winter to get some successful physical therapy on a repetitive problem with my back – the result of a small sporting incident many years ago and sitting at a desk all day. This included some stretching and core and upper body strength training tailored into a short 45 minute program that I can keep up myself at home at least 3 days a week. Once the ice on the road is gone for good, I am going to try mix this in with some running and cycling, and try to actually get out of town into some real up and downhill outdoor hiking action.

Now, I have just returned from a short vacation to Puerto Rico where the sunshine, blue skies and Pina Coladas have awoken me from my winter slumber so it is time to put together a workable program, enlist my training buddies and get started …… let’s see how I go……..

Jenny Dudgeon

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Periodization Training: How Variety Pays of in Training and Nutrition

Last night I began to read Chris Carmichael's Food for Fitness. He is an Olympic Cycling coach, as well as Lance Armstrong's trainer (he'll remind you plenty just in case you forget), and was a member of the first American Cycling team to participate in the Tour de France. I am always looking for new ways to improve my nutrition, and Carmichael's approach is really easy to understand and straightforward. Basically instead of eliminating whole food groups (no fat, no carb, etc.) Carmichael delves into how we need whole foods from all food groups, and when to eat them in relation to where you are at in your training. His concept stems from a way of organizing strength and cardiovascular training called Periodization.

Essentially Periodization is conciously creating a training program that cycles through varrying levels of intensity and duration, that culminate in a peak performace cycle to get you ready for a specific event--be it a 10K race or climbing a mountain. Triathletes, distance runners, and body builders all know the benefits of periodization. But it can be an excellent way to organize your training for climbing as well. By constantly varrying your workouts, you leave your body guessing, and it can never adapt to the exercise, meaning no more plateaus. Here is a great link to an article from the folks at Peak Performance that I think does a great job of explaining periodization in layman's terms, and will give you some food for thought when designing your own training regimine. It also touches on a lot of terms you see a lot in texts about training for mountaineering. So its a must-read for those wanting a quick crash course on the elements of training and all the lingo that goes with it.

Periodization Training Techniques from

Periodization has also been shown in studies to be much more effective at increasing strength and power than traditional circut training. I found this highly referenced article that goes into the detail of the benifits of periodization over circut training. You can follow this link:

Circuit vs. Periodized Training

The periodiztion method seems especially relevant to climbing because of the importance of establishing mini-goals while on your way to a larger over-arcing goal of climbing a mountain. People ask me all the time how to tell if they are on track. Creating measurable goals that serve as benchmarks during your training is the only way to track progress. What's your mile time? Body measurements? Distance you are able to hike before stopping? Pack weight that feels good? All these are things that you can measure your progress against. Setting smaller goals also makes it easier to stick to a training plan. It's a lot easier to imagine three weeks from now, than three months, so focus on what you hope to accomplish in smaller chunks of time. It will help you stay motivated and hedge off any inclination you might have to procrastinate.

Even if you aren't interested in geeking out and creating a major periodization training schedule for yourself, always find ways to varry your workouts. By varrying either the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts you will see faster results than if simply sticking to a static routine.

Happy Training!

Send Us Your Questions!

I've gotten a few great calls from folks gearing up for the 2009 climbing season with tons of great questions. In order to keep this blog fresh and full of pertinent information, we welcome your questions, and I will try and post answers to them here in the blog. Just e-mail Thanks for reading and happy training! ~Whittaker Mountaineering