workout for climbing the nose


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Trad climber
schaumburg, il
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 18, 2013 - 08:43pm PT
I know to climb a lot in order to prepare for climbing something like el cap, which i hope to do in my lifetime. However what kind of workouts etc did you all do to get your ass into shape for something like this. I've seen the workout from hell, and it looks like hell. Any other plans or things you have found to get yourself ready.

Feb 18, 2013 - 08:57pm PT
move out of illinois!

Big Wall climber
Pacif*#ka Muthaf*#ka
Feb 18, 2013 - 08:59pm PT
go wrestle Hudon

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 18, 2013 - 09:16pm PT
Climb, climb, climb....which, of course, means get your ass the hell out of Illinois.

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Feb 18, 2013 - 09:29pm PT
go wrestle Hudon


Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Feb 18, 2013 - 09:36pm PT
You should try to live a life where you never get out of shape in the first place. Many start climbing when they are young and continue with the pursuit throughout their lives . . . every day is a workout. Of course one needs to reside in proximity to some vertical topography, preferably thousands of feet of such. Living in Illinois, the best start would be to log some serious mileage on a road bike, 300-400 miles/month and balance this with extensive upper body training, 3 days/week, just to prepare for the physical demands of heavy load hauling and vertical struggle. This does not include the requisite time spent simply climbing, 1000-3000 feet/month. It is not an easy path.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Trad climber
Yosemite, ca
Feb 18, 2013 - 09:57pm PT
Hike up hills with a heavy pack on.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 18, 2013 - 10:02pm PT
You're undoubtably going to be doing it in conventional style. Being in good physical shape is important but not essential. Developing the appropriate skills is THE critical factor.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Feb 18, 2013 - 11:31pm PT
Chin-ups and pullups are a classic way to get in shape. Get to where you can do 15 to 20 in a row (per set - minimum of 10 per set) It's always good to have a base fittness level like being able to do at least 3 sets per day. When I soloed El Cap back in 1977 I made sure I could do 1,000 chin-ups in an 11 hour period. That's in sets of 10, about 9 sets per hour with 6 to 7 minuted rest between sets. That's really a mellow way to workout. I never really got tired or fatigued when I was up there on the wall. You need to think in terms of having reserve strength and endurance for when 'shit happens'. The accidents people have probably happen mostly after people get fatigued. For a base level of fitness, being able to do this for an hour is a good start. If you are young you can take it as far as you want, and like most sports you work out more as the event approachs. The most chin-up or parallel bar dips I ever did in a row was 37. If you can't climb to get in shape you should workout. Climbing big stuff can mess with you mind, so if your body is tough you have a good start.

If you live where you cannot climb, get into buildering, where you can do long traverses on brick or concrete holds for periods of time - on the sides of buildings or on road and freeway retaining walls. The challenge here is to find a wall where you can be descreet and the cops don't think you are breaking in. I have a secret wall that is 120' long that I traverse back and forth on. I can make it easy or I can make it kick my ass. Back when I was doing the pull-up program I described, I also buildered, ran, rode my bicycle, and climbed when I could. I lived in Boise Idaho at the time and there were lots of good buildings to climb on. El Cap is 3,000 feet high so I would make sure I could do 3,000 feet of traversing in a day! It goes pretty fast 100' at a time.

When you are young it is easy to build up if that is what you want to do. I went from not being able to do a single chin-up in the 7th grade to doing chin-ups with 100 lbs added to my bodyweight in high-school. Later I built up to 1 arm chin ups. Most top climbers can do these but it's certainly not needed to just climb El Cap in a standard fashion.

One fun or not so fun thing to do with a friend is to jumar up ropes hanging free. You just need something that is 20 feet high and your friend can lower the rope through a pulley as you go up. Be creative and there are endless ways to conquer the Captian, but like others have said, you have to find a way to learn to climb and learn the ropes too.

Maybe the most important thing in all of this is giving yourself plenty of recovery time after working out. Recovery is as important as the workout. Many training books do not emphasize this enough. It is very easy to pile workout onto workout until you do nothing but f*#k yourself up. You have to learn when you are recovered and stronger than you were before, before you hit it again. I have spent far more time recovering from workouts in my life than actually working out. Also, endurance low stress workouts are a very good base for building more pure strength later. People always want to go for the rad strength stuff first. Hard endurance workouts translate into strength just fine.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Feb 19, 2013 - 12:30am PT

Great post.

McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Feb 19, 2013 - 12:33am PT
Thanks man. I had a good workout today! I love my brick wall. Gotta know when to quit too!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 19, 2013 - 01:02am PT
Find an alligator.

Wrestle it.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Feb 19, 2013 - 01:10am PT
Last time I did that I lost - they call it road rage - separated shoulder! My alligator turned out to be a football player in disguise - outweighed me by 100 lbs.

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Feb 19, 2013 - 01:13am PT
40 oz curls should get you there.

Feb 19, 2013 - 02:48am PT
If you're able to climb the equivalent of 10 full pitches of 5.9 or 5.10 in 6 or 7 hours and still feel pretty good afterwards, and you can repeat it the next day, I think you'll be fine physically. I'd also suggest getting hauling a bag wired, knowing how to jumar efficiently, and know how to pendulum without getting too excited.

I'd watch out with overdoing the pullups, shoulder tendonitis is a bitch!

Boulder climber
Feb 19, 2013 - 03:17am PT
I would run, do push ups, pull ups (not going past 45 degrees) and crunches. Diet would be equally important leading up to something like this.
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Feb 19, 2013 - 05:10am PT
Go to and check out Hans' 'Road to the Nose'

Chris Mac Namara's How to Big Wall Climb is another great resource.


Feb 19, 2013 - 07:58am PT
Plenty of climbing in Illinois he's just in the wrong end. Lots of folks on the Taco have climbed in Illinois. Tell you what, come down to Jackson and run about 25 straight laps on "Group Therapy" you'll be ready.
Lloyd Campbell

Social climber
St. Cloud, MN
Feb 19, 2013 - 08:16am PT
I would guess most failures on El Cap are due to head games rather than fitness level. You have to prep the brain to be able to handle having 3000 feet of rock hanging over you. Don't discount this part of the "training", it is not insignificant.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Feb 19, 2013 - 08:42am PT
(1) get a solid partner; (2) spend a month or more in the valley getting used to the rock and gear techniques; (3) start going up one of the routes. If you fail it won't be because you were out of shape.
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