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March 2016 Issue
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Tips for getting alpine fit

Rock hopping strengthens your ankles for tough expeditions. Photo: Wilderness
How city-slickers can get alpine fit without heading into the backcountry, by Elke Braun Elwert

If you’re planning a multiday trip in alpine terrain but live in the city,  training can be tough when you’re surrounded by pavements, tarmac and other distinctly un-wilderness-y terrain. But Alpine Recreation guide Elke Braun-Elwert has a few tips up her sleeve for how to prepare your body even when miles away from the tough stuff.

  • Rock hop in a river or on a stretch of coastline near home. I recommend this particularly for building strength in your ankles for cramponing
  • Trail running – this is another good one for cramponing. It’s great for fitness obviously, but also for calf strength, which makes front pointing much easier
  • Head up a local hill with full bottles of water in your pack to practice ascending with weight in your pack. Empty the water at the top so as not to damage your knees on descent
  • For ice climbing, set up a bar normally used for chin ups but instead use your ice tools. This provides good training for vertical grip and arm strength. By placing just the tip on the bar, you’ll be honing your precision and ability to pull up on the tool without wiggling off the hold.
  • For improving footwork when rock climbing, get onto a safe climb on top rope and put on a blindfold. Get your belayer to give you cues when needed, but try to climb as much as possible only by feel. You’ll find your balance and footwork will improve quickly without the distraction of visual cues (which make you focus more on your hands and the next reachable hold)