July 31, 2016 Shaunak Kar

Pilgrim on the mountain: Training for a 6000er

IThis post is a part of a three chapter series on my experience summiting Stok Kangri,6153m and Kang Yatse 6200m in two fortunate weeks of July in 2016. I’ve never been laconic with my blog posts but unless you’re hooked on to Pokemon Go, you should be alright.

Zero – Training for a 6000er. You are reading.
One – Stok Kangri
Two – Kang Yatse II

To the stray dogs who chased me in every night run and threatened to chew my legs off, to the pub hopping pillion on the motorbike who asked me to buck up while I was on another run…on a Friday night… 12 AM and to the guy at the pushcart who shared his day’s water with me without a thought on a hot sunny day in Hyderabad after a solid elevation gain bike ride.

|Chapter Zero|

Training for a 6000er

I was working in one of those high burning projects 10-14 hours a day every day when I started training for the twin summits of  Stok Kangri and Kang Yatse II. The sedentary nature of the work meant that my back had started giving problems already and while it was annoying, it was quite the blessing in disguise as for some reason running and cycling would “fix” it! It wasn’t before long that I started developing a strong connection with running and cycling even though I was a bit prone to injury with the former due to poor form and the total lack of stretching and warming up.

My training started in January with basic running and cycling to lead up to the final two months. So for cardio/performance here’s what I did in the last two months for reference –

  1. Run 2-3 times on weekdays on the treadmill – 3-4 Km on a 7%+ incline and resting on 5 incline once per km or whenever needed.
  2. Run 5K + once on a weekend.
  3. Cycle 35K + every week. The objective here to have enough cardio stress that lasts for 2 hours and more. Increase the distance if you have a road bike or if you are on a flatter terrain.

I think a heart-rate monitor is very crucial for training. It gives you an excellent idea of how your body is performing and responding to strenuous activity. I was using this and all of my work-outs were targeted at about 150-160 bpm on an average and a lot of work was done at around 160-190 bpm. There’s too much to write about zonal heart rate based training here so ill skip through it but do reach out if you need any information around that.

You don’t need to be fast at any of your cardio, but rather make sure that you can recover from whatever exhaustion your body is going through. Summit days typically last around 12 hours or more and there’s nothing that can actually train you for that except for , well, summits themselves so the only thing you can train for is to recover well and fast. As you start getting used to activity, your body responds and you naturally start cutting down on recovery time from much much faster than day one from minutes to seconds!

Now coming to the typical gym jock stuff – as much as I hate it, I had to walk to the sweaty stinky gyms and do weights for the last two months pretty regularly. Here’s what I was up to –

To train your legs the idea was to be able to have enough strength to

a) Easily carry you 12Kg-13kg backpack.
b) Tread snow and ice with high steep steps on summit day

Here’s what I was upto.

  1. Weighted dumbell squats -3 high rep(20-15-15) progressive sets with the third set to failure. Always aim for a weight atleast double the weight of your backpack. Remember that things get tougher with altitude.
  2. Weighted Lunges – 3 high rep(20-15-15) progressive sets with the third set to failure
  3. Leg press – 3 progressive sets with the third set to failure.
  4. Weighted Wall sit – 2 sets of whatever you can till failure.
  5. Standing Hamstring Curl – I sucked at it.
  6. Free one legged squats – These are incredible for balance and strength!

For building core and upper body strength –

  1. Classic 4 finger pull up – 30 – in sets of 2
  2. Knee up crunches – 50 – in sets of 2
  3. Plank. Both sides and the normal position, at least 1 minute each.
  4. Classic push up – 50 – in sets of 3. Absolutely hate these.

Again, you don’t need to pump weight and the idea is not to build big muscles but build lean strong ones that endure stress time and again!

Good Luck and don’t hate me for it!


Next- Chapter One: Stok Kangri

preparation for trekking peak reparation for 6000 m mountain preparation for Kang yatse preparation for stok kangri Training 6000er mountain

Rock climbing walls Or spot climbing walls of India
Pilgrim on the mountain: Stok Kangri
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Shaunak Kar
Shaunak Kar pilgrim on a mountain

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