FAQ - Fitness For Mountaineering

Just how fit is 'fit enough'? Mountaineering is a demanding activity. The fitter you are the more you will enjoy your time with us. Unless you regularly climb, bushwalk/hike, and are used to long days carrying a pack, you will need to train for mountaineering.

Mountaineering is primarily an aerobic activity

Strength is important for lifting a pack, but it is more important to build up your aerobic fitness level and stamina for long climbing days. Aerobic fitness can only be improved over months - so start your training program now.

As you come close to the time for your climbing trip try to use a few weekends to load up with a 7-10 kg pack and walk all day (8 hours), up hills, if possible, to work on endurance.

Don’t underestimate how rigorous mountaineering can be. It is better to be over-prepared.

Training Tips for Mountaineering

A training regime is beyond the scope of this document, but there are many resourses online. At the professional level you can consult an exercise physiologist to help set up a conditioning program.

Look for types of exercise that improve aerobic fitness. Anything that uses your legs and raises heart rate increases stamina: walking (with intent), stair climbing, jogging, mountain biking, step machines, ski machines, rowing machines are all useful. Try exercise that most resembles climbing. Hill running is effective because it is weight-bearing and strengthens bones.

Work on low intensity, long-duration exercise

The most obvious weakness in training regimes is that exercise sessions are not long enough. It is not unusual to experience a 15-hour day on major New Zealand peaks.

Select activities you enjoy doing. You are more likely to continue with your program.

Start slowly. Build up to aerobic exercise at an intensity level where it is difficult to hold a conversation Schedule a time during the day for exercise and aim for 4-5 sessions per week at 30 to 45 minutes each

Testing your fitness

Try to hit your peak fitness immediately before your trip. This will greatly improve your enjoyment and appreciation of the mountains.

As a rough gauge for fitness you should be able to:

  • Jog at a moderate pace for 5-8 kms without stopping and/or
  • Hike 300 metres uphill (1,000 ft.) in less than an hour, with a 12 kg pack.
  • The ability to carry a backpack over an 8-10 hour day is vital.