The Everest climbing season is dawning as hopeful summiteers travel to Tibet and Nepal for a chance to take in the view from the top of the world. But even if you never have $50K+ to drop on this experience (which is the basic cost of hiring a quality outfitter), you can still be fit for Everest and get into the best shape of your life.
We asked respected mountaineering guide Garrett Madison, who is on his way to Nepal to lead a group to the summit, for training tips to get us all fit for Earth’s rooftop—even if we never rise above sea level. This year, Garrett’s team is setting the fixed ropes from Camp II to the summit, which is a great responsibility and honor. He will also take clients up another Himalayan giant, the infamous K2, for a massively impressive high-altitude double hitter.
Here Garrett shares three fitness tips for the rest of us to get Everest fit, even if we never rise above sea level.
1. Hiking with Books
This is exactly what it sounds like—stuff a bunch of hardcover books into a pack and get hiking up and down hills. If you live in a city, you can haul a book-filled pack up and down multiple flights of stairs. Training for the weight on your back, plus going up and down (ideally on irregular surfaces to engage your stabilizers), is essential. Remember: It’s the going descent that really smokes people, so train accordingly.
2. Strength Training
Building up strong muscles throughout your body will help you keep it together when the high altitude and thin air starts impacting your body. “Olympic lifting with the barbell is the best! Dead lifts for strength. Snatch-and-clean and jerk are more advanced movements. That’s what I’ve been doing the last couple months…” says Garrett.
3. Endurance Training
Though Everest is not a very technical climb, it’s the altitude that kills summit dreams and sometimes people. It’s no joke. Working on your endurance will prepare your body to function as you move higher and higher. “For endurance, hiking or running is best,” says Garrett. “Work on your steady state heart rate.”