Copenhill, Copenhagen, climb, alpine climbing, Alpine Energy Guiding, mountaineering & ski adventures, Andrew Lanham Mountain Guide, Chamonix, Aosta Valley, Swiss, lyngen alps

Training for the mountains in the city…

How to prepare for this?

Living here…


Living in the mountains, I’ve failed to appreciate the practical reality for people living busy lives in the city. Training for the mountain by actual skiing or climbing is obviously not an option.

Copenhagen is where I found myself this autumn for 6 weeks. It’s flat, cold, rainy and grey in November. Needing to train for my winter guiding season of skiing, touring and alpinism, I too experienced the challenges most city-dwellers face in preparing for the mountains.

Climbing is not a battle with the elements, nor against the law of gravity. It’s a battle against oneself. “Walter Bonatti”

Motivation

Motivation is probably the biggest stumbling block. The solution is to have a goal. Something that will get you out running in the rain, sucking wind on some dark stairs, embracing the suffering. Without anything to aim for its hard to get out and push yourself. Excuses are plentiful and valid; work was tough, you’re tired, the weather sucks, being social is important, and you did have a good training day last week so you can slack off a bit now, etc… The answer is to commit to something that scares you sufficiently to prioritise your preparations. It could be a Haute Route ski tour, a 4000m summit or a skiing trip with friends that love long, hard days on the slopes.

Activities

Activities that you enjoy or at least don’t hate are the best. Have fun! Find some friends to join you and or join a club / class. Choose maybe two things and be realistic about what you’ll actually do. The mountains involve a lot of uphill and require general cardiovascular fitness but also leg power and athleticism.

Guiding, I see people that are good athletes (eg. gymnasts) that don’t have good long cardio and can’t keep walking for 8 hours. I also see people that run multiple marathons that lack the leg power, balance and core strength for high steps, scrambling and changes of pace on the Matterhorn for example. That is why one needs both athleticism and cardiovascular fitness for mountaineering, ski touring and skiing.

When away from the mountains I choose the climbing gym combined with some weights and bodyweight exercises 2-3 days per week for strength and athleticism. For cardio, I do running and interval training on stairs 2-3 days per week. Sometimes both on the same day.

Activity options could include:

  • cross training (cross-fit) + running
  • gymnastics + cycling
  • squash + treadmill and stairmaster
Running laps on the power station / dry ski slope of Copenhill in Copenhagen on a November evening.

Consistency

Consistency is much more important than intensity! The body adapts slowly and if you make training a fun habit rather than a chore then it will pay off. If you set your goals too high for each training session, you simply won’t do them because it seems too much at the end of a long day. Also if you break down your body too much, your recovery will be slow and you’ll quickly loose motivation. Go for a 30 mins run rather than doing nothing at all even if it seems trivial, the consistency will keep you motivated and remind your body to adapt.

Be realistic

Be realistic about the size of the mountains you will be climbing or skiing and the length of time you’ll need to be active. Often ski tours or alpine climbing days can involve 1500m of up-hill and down on rough terrain with a backpack at altitude for multiple days. Running a half marathon on the flat ground at sea level doesn’t necessarily translate to climbing the Dufourspitze or ski touring the Haute Route for example. In training search out rough terrain, sand, hills, stairs etc.

Test yourself

Often days in the mountains will be 6 to 12 hours so from time to time it can be good to do some long endurance sessions to see if your body is prepared for extended efforts. Some endurance test ideas could be:

  • A long hike or run
  • A long cycling trip
  • A gym marathon, just go to the gym and spend 5-6 hours doing easy cardio, some light weights, swimming, it doesn’t matter, just keep going for a long time.

Test yourself uphill because the mountains are brutally steep when you’re not used to it. Possibly try the following:

  • Find stairs that are, say 50m high in altitude gain. Hike / jog 30 laps at a good speed to make 1500m of height gain. See how long it takes you. 500m an hour is decent. Fit alpinists can generally do about 1000m in an hour and top trail runners about 1500m in an hour.
  • Most gyms have a “stairmaster” stepping machine where you can test yourself.
  • Few things are as relevant for mountain fitness as just how good your legs are at stepping you upwards and downwards.

Skills

Skills take time to learn and nothing beats doing the actual thing for skills development. That said; being athletic, strong and having good balance goes a long way in most mountain activities. If you plan on doing alpine climbing then indoor rock climbing is great. For skiing and alpinism some dynamic leg and balance training is helpful.

Consult a professional

These are my opinions from many years of mountain climbing, skiing and guiding. I am not however a personal trainer or sports scientist. It would be advisable to consult a professional before starting any training program.

The greatest danger in life is not to take the adventure “George Leigh Mallory”

Check out the general Fitness, Ski and Climbing level pages on the website. Each trip has the relevant level required.

Chamonix ski guide, powder skiing, Ski touring, freeride, off-piste, backcountry, Alpine Energy Guiding, mountaineering & ski adventures, Andrew Lanham Mountain Guide, Chamonix, Aosta Valley, Swiss, lyngen alps

Great Skiing Conditions

It hasn’t stopped dumping snow on us here in the Alps lately. Conditions are very good and everyone who likes powder skiing is smiling! Here are a few shots from the last few days:

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Always fun to ski with these guys!

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Perfect turns on the Grand Envers Moraine

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The clouds open for a moment

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Alone on the Argentiere glacier

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Henrik coming out of the straight line chute with some speed

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Sunday was deep on the Midi!

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Dark rider disappears

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Its more fun together right…

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Henrik

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Mattias

 

This Winter in Chamonix, The Characters

Every year the snow settles, disappears, gets blown away or melts, then comes again. We ski, climb and have good days, great days and difficult days. I’ve always taken pictures of  the views, sunsets, fresh powder, snow plastered granite, impressive walls, spires and couloirs. However, years after the good day’s skiing or climbing has passed, it is invariably the people we shared the experiences with or met along the way that leave some lingering impressions in the back of our memories. I’ve tried to take more pictures of these people this year, here are some of them:

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Waiting for the snow kept us rock climbing well into December, here Swedish mountain guide Magnus on a cold day climbing.

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Yogi and general good-vibes spreader Annick with Jonno of Ronin Skis

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Asa enjoying the first snow of the winter

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Chef, skier and climber, Jim enjoys a break in an Italian café

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These guys from Denmark know how to have fun!

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The chilled out Jeremy, a frenchman hanging out with 120 Americans

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Erik from the east coast of the States, psyched on Chamonix skiing

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Smiles on the Argentiere glacier

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London/ Irishman

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Rugby player/ Skier taking a break

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Guide, instuctor, nice guy, tucking in

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Elvis impersonator with Superman T-shirt takes his mid-morning Bombardino

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Bergen local

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Retired school teacher, super skier, no poles needed

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Tony, waiting for the Aiguille du Midi to open

Mont Blanc, Aiguille du Midi, Aiguille Verte, Mountaineering course, Chamonix ski guide, haute route, chamonix climbing, Chamonix freeride, Chamonix mountain guides, Swiss mountaineering

This summer’s mountains

Its been a summer with much precipitation but also many days alone on nice summits in short weather windows and good snow conditions with little rock-fall danger. Here are a few photos from the sometimes sunny and warm season.

The summer started for me with two trips up Mont Blanc, both of which were cold but with great snow conditions and summit success.

Sunset from the new Refuge du Gouter

Sunset from the new Refuge du Gouter

some are up early for the sunrise shot over the Mont Blanc range

Some are up early for the sunrise shot over the Mont Blanc range

 

In July and August I spent some time in the Swiss Valais, these shots are from the Dufourspitze, Nadelhorn, Mont Blanc de Cheillon, l’Eveque and the Wiessmies:

Climbing on the Rifflehorn, acclimatizing for the Dufourspitze in the background

Climbing on the Rifflehorn, acclimatizing for the Dufourspitze seen in the background on the left with Liskamm to the right

sunset with the Matterhorn and the flag of the Monte Rosa hut silhouetted

Sunset with the Matterhorn and the flag of the Monte Rosa hut silhouetted

arriving at the Dufour summit

The last steps before the Dufour summit

sun rising on faces of Lenzspitze and Nadelhorn

The sun’s first rays on the faces of Lenzspitze and Nadelhorn

the Mischabel hut guardians enjoying a morning stroll on Ulrichshorn

The Mischabel hut guardians enjoying a morning stroll on Ulrichshorn

smiles and photos on the summit of Mont Blanc de Cheillon

Smiles and photos on the summit of Mont Blanc de Cheillon

morning views on the traverse of the Weissmies

Morning views on the traverse of the Weissmies

a party on the summit ridge of the Weissmies

A party on the summit ridge of the Weissmies

some good rock climbing on l'Eveque SW ridge

Some good rock climbing on l’Eveque SW ridge

climbing l'Eveque with the ridge of La Singla behind and Mont Blanc far away to the right

Climbing l’Eveque with the ridge of La Singla behind and Mont Blanc far away to the right

 

Some trips to the quieter areas of the Mont Blanc range, finished off the summer guiding for me. Here climbing on some of the granite in the Orny area.

Fun scrambling on the Aiguille de l'Arpette

Fun scrambling on the Aiguille d’Arpette

Laurie getting stuck into some perfect granite

Laurie getting stuck into some perfect granite

 

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Great climbing on sunny aspects of the Purtscheller.

 

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Don’t forget your chimneying skills!

We then started on some mountain ice and mixed, in great condition after the snowy summer:

abseiling down to climb up to the Aiguille du midi again...

Abseiling down to climb up to the Aiguille du midi again…

climbing the profit-perroux gully, high above the Chamonix valley

The profit-perroux gully, high above the Chamonix valley

Laurie exiting the crux pitch

Laurie exiting the crux pitch

enjoying the last pitches up the Arete des Cosmiques

Enjoying the last pitches up the Arete des Cosmiques

Guillaume in a mixed route on the Tacul triange

Guillaume in a mixed route on the Tacul triange

...some traffic on the Schmid route on the Matterhorn.

Some traffic on the Schmid route on the Matterhorn.

...the suns rays interrupted by the Hornli ridge.

The morning’s rays interrupted by the Hornli ridge

...the view down the Hornli ridge with Zermatt below and the north face to the left.

The view down the Hornli ridge with Zermatt below and the north face to the left

 

Thanks to everyone I climbed with for a good, safe season, hope to see you again next year!

 

 

 

 

3 days in La Grave

With some fresh snow and end of season calmness in La Grave made for three great days of skiing. All runs in La Grave start with a long ride in the old Telecabine…

Views from the Cabin

Views from the Cabin

The first day we enjoyed the accessible powder from the recent snowfall.

Couloirs des Trifides were fun on day 1

Couloirs des Trifides were fun on day 1

We finished the day with a run on the glacier, Couloir de Banane and Freaux

Pow on the glacier...

Pow on the glacier…

Checking our tracks

Checking our tracks

 

Couloir de Banane

Sam getting some speed in the Couloir de Banane

Day 2 we skied the road run with everyone’s favorite abseil in the middle…

Skiing the glacier with some ambience

Skiing the glacier with some ambience

The team ready to ski again after abseiling

In the couloir, ready to ski!

In the couloir, ready to ski!

and skiing...

and skiing…

Sometimes you don’t need to go so far to find some fresh turns!

Almost under the Cables...

Almost under the Cables…

On our last morning in La Grave was spent on another road run in the Chirouze area with great snow and good adventure!

Untracked glacier at 3500m

Untracked glacier at 3500m

Jurgen tracing his line

Jurgen tracing his line

Gerd enjoying!

Gerd enjoying!

cruising

cruising

More good turns lower down

More good turns lower down

With a short walk and some river crossing tyrolean action were at the car and heading to Le Castillan’s sunny terrace for lunch and beers!

River crossing to get to the beers!

River crossing to get to the beers!

Thanks to Gerd, Jurgen and Sammy for a fun few days!

 

 

 

More powder turns in a week than any man deserves…

The white stuff has been falling from the skies without much abate these last two weeks in the Alps. Skiing has been the activity a la mode, so skiing is what we’ve been doing!

Clean canvas on which to paint your line...

Clean canvas on which to paint your line…

This is from a small ski tour near Verbier last week which delivered some good skiing!

Max enjoying the cold snow!

Max enjoying the cold snow!

A few days around Chamonix with some German friends yielded the goods:

Skiing below Les Aiguilles de Chamonix

Skiing below Les Aiguilles de Chamonix

Jurgen in cruise mode

Jurgen in cruise mode

Ski touring in the Aiguille Rouges this week was a quiet day out with good views and great skiing:

backlit coldsmoke

backlit coldsmoke

aesthetic forms

aesthetic forms

:-)

🙂

the guys on the summit with Mt Blanc in the background

the guys on the summit with Mt Blanc in the background

Gerd in action

Gerd in action

Fresh lines off the Aiguille du Midi was no rarity this week..

Fresh lines off the Aiguille du Midi was no rarity this week..

The sun dimmed by incoming weather on the Italian Vallee Blanche

The sun dimmed by incoming weather on the Italian Vallee Blanche

That was the last sunshine we saw for quite a few days and it was into the trees with Swedes:

the trees

the trees

Almost getting a faceshot, not easy when you're 2m tall..!

Almost getting a faceshot, not easy when you’re 2m tall..!

the dark rider not playing games!

the dark rider not playing games!

the dark rider again...

the dark rider again…

Henrik catching some speed in the clearing

Henrik catching some speed in the clearing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

autumn sunrise

There is something special about the moments when the sun rises and sets, the change from light to darkness or from the chilling early hours of the morning to the first glowing rays of warmth cast from the distant horizon promising clarity and comfort. As people who enjoy being outside in the mountains we often have the pleasure of witnessing these moments when the rotation of the earth combined with the light of a star passing through the earth’s atmosphere paints some of the most beautiful pictures.

morning light on the Chamonix granite from the Noire de Peuterey to the Mont Blanc du Tacul

morning light on the Chamonix granite from the Noire de Peuterey to the Mont Blanc du Tacul

 

The sun wakes up Italy from the Dent du Geant

The sun wakes up Italy from the Dent du Geant

Sunset over from the cliffs of Kalymnos

Sunset over from the cliffs of Kalymnos

 

The sun goes down in a blaze in Chamonix

The sun goes down in a blaze in Chamonix

The same sunset a few minutes later

The same sunset a few minutes later

 

Come Skiing above the Arctic circle this spring!

Come and join me this April in the Lyngen Alps of Norway! The preliminary date is the week of the 13th to 20th.

The summit plateau of Fugdldalsfjellet

The summit plateau of Fugldalsfjellet

Ski Touring above the Arctic circle with the long spring days, tracing lines down beautiful open slopes above the thawing fjords, the vistas are nothing short of spectacular, the open calmness of the place, liberating. 

skiing great snow, alone with the clouds and the shadows on the south island

skiing great snow, alone with the clouds and the shadows on the south island

I have a good knowledge of the area and conditions as I spent six weeks skiing in the area in 2011 and have contact with locals who can update me on recent happenings in the conditions. You’ll get picked up from the airport, eat and sleep in the comfort of a lodge and be guided for six days of ski touring. 

Skinning up towards Jiehkkevárri, the highest summit on the southern island.

Skinning up towards Jiehkkevárri, the highest summit on the southern island.

This trip is not extreme skiing, we will aim to do classic tours on beautiful summits where just being in the mountains with these surroundings is a pleasure and risks will kept to reasonable minimum. We will also be looking to ski the best possible snow we can find on each day.

skinning on the spring morning snow above the Sørfjorden

skinning on the spring morning snow above the Sørfjorden

There are literally hundreds of possibilities, we will decide our objectives day by day depending on the mountain conditions and the motivations of the group. The height gain will be between 600 and 1500m per day. We’ll do summits such as Kavringtinden 1289m, Sofiatinden 1222m, Stetinden 920m, Storgalten 1219m, Tafeltinden 1395m, as well as many other possible itineraries.

It will be a maximum group size of 6 people and a minimum of 4. If you would like more details, let me know and I will e-mail  you a detailed program with a price list. Hope to see you there!

on our way to Trollvasstinden..

on our way to Trollvasstinden..

enjoying the ride down to the ocean!

enjoying the ride down to the ocean!

Contact me

Powder days are here again!

Hearing about dry mountains and thin snow cover from my sweaty bungalow in south-east Asia, I wasn’t too optimistic about the skiing this January. Arriving home to an unpredictable snowpack thanks to the constructive metamorphism of December’s meagre snowfall lurking beneath the new layers in the two to three thousand metre range on northern aspects and a general lack of covering confirmed my doubts.

Skiing the trees in Italy last December, yesterdays conditions were similar..

Skiing the trees in Italy last December, yesterdays conditions were similar..

However, since new year the snow has been falling in the Alps and yesterday was a good powder day in Courmayeur, Italy. The snowpack is a bit thicker over there and we had a great day in the trees. With careful route choice and some local knowledge the skiing in the Alps is quite good now.

Here’s Erik’s new little edit from a fun day last April:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKJRJYFHvQs&w=560&h=315]