Best altitude training tips for Alpine climbing

best altitude training tips

Getting in a little alpine dreaming? While you pore through the guides and plot the best Geneva transfers, here’s some of the best altitude training tips around…

Although the Alps are pretty low in global terms, they still pack quite a punch for Brits heading out from roughly sea level. Taking time to aclimatise is essential, as it’s possible to contract acute mountain sickness (AMS) at relatively low altitudes, usually not below 2,400m. With altitudes in the Alps easily hitting this mark (Mt Blanc is 4,809m), but journey times that make driving to Aviemore seem like a trip to the moon, preparation is essential.

Ask anyone, and they’ll trot out the old truism – if you’re training for mountain climbing, you’ll need to go climbing in the mountains a lot. However, that’s no use to the majority of us with day jobs that don’t involve being a forest ranger – so what to do? Here’s a quick rundown of our best altitude training tips when you’re stuck in the city.

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Best altitude training tips preparation for an Alpine climb, by Ellie Gilham, Altitude Centre performance specialist:

1. Be organised, make sure your start your altitude training regime 6 weeks to a month before your climb.

2. Little and often, frequent and regular exposure to altitude is essential for your body to produce extra red blood cells. You are better off doing four 30min sessions than one 2 hour one per week.

best altitude training tips

3. Use HIIT, high intensity interval training is the most effective way to train in the chamber as the lack of oxygen will not have such a dramatic effect on how hard you can exercise. It will also cause the greatest gains in oxygen delivery to the muscle and utilization by the muscles.

4. Supplement exercise sessions with passive IHE (Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure). This will help to increase your red blood cell count which will help reduce the risk of developing acute mountain sickness (AMS).

5. Use altitude training to supplement your current training regime.

6. Ensure you have sufficient recovery periods between sessions. As altitude places a second stress on the body sufficient recovery is crucial to prevent over training.

Of course, these tips are no substitute for spending time gradually getting your body accustomed to higher altitude. If you experience any of the symptoms detailed here then descend immediately.

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