Functioning in the cold isn’t ever too pleasant, but by gaining some experience with it you can gain the mental fortitude to make it work. See one of my previous POSTS for some winter camping advice.
If you don’t have access to a cold winter climate, one exercise that will help increase your cold threshold is to put your hands in ice water until you can’t stand it anymore, then try doing various activities such as tying knots, knitting, cooking dinner, etc. This exercise is pretty limited however; the best thing you can do is either head to a cold climate for a winter camping excursion (at least one!).
|Fellow Institute guide Nate Furman checking out the view on the upper|
mountain (A. Stephen)
|Climbers using french cramponing technique to ascend a steep hill |
with loaded sleds (A. Stephen)
In fact, unless you are consistently living at 10,000ft, there really isn’t much you can do that will gain you the high altitude experience needed, since any acclimatization built through periods at altitude quickly disappears upon returning to sea-level. The best thing you can do to be ready for high altitude is to make sure you are in good cardiovascular shape. Supplementing your weighted pack training with an activity such as swimming, running, or biking is a great way to increase your cardio and lung capacity. I find mountaineering-specific benefit in trail running, as you are not only building cardio fitness, but also training your leg muscles to handle stress. I repeat: start slow and don’t overdo it! Listen to your body first and foremost; it is always better to skip training days if you still feel tired than overdo it and risk injury.
|Heading up the iconic ridgeline between 14k and 17k camps in less than|
splitter conditions (A. Stephen)
|Fruits of the labor: A climber enjoying the view from 17k (A. Stephen)|
-Andy Stephen, AAI Instructor and Guide