VO2 Max testing in 2008. I did another one at the start of the year before I began training for Everest.
There's surprisingly little specific information available for training to climb the big Himalayan peaks, or high altitude mountains. Searching the web yielded Ed Viesturs's training program. I tried Ed's program of 4-days-on, 1-day-off (which means less than one day of rest in a typical training week), but I was pretty whacked out by the 4th day. And then the 1-day-off wasn't enough recovery time, so I couldn't get the intensity up during the next 4-day-on cycle. I've now settled into a 3-day-on, 1-day off cycle, and this has been working well for me.
I read as many books as I could find on the subject, including: Mark Twight's Extreme Alpinism, The Outdoor Athlete from Human Kinetics, and Clyde Soles's Climbing: Training for Peak Performance. The one book which stands out, and that I continue to refer to, is Twight's Extreme Alpinism. Although slightly outdated, it still contains much relevant information, and the principles of training, nutrition and equipment can still be applied. Twight now owns and runs Gym Jones, a successful, if somewhat controversial gym, that trained the cast and crew of the movie '300'. Twight's Gym Jones website offers some of his updated philosophies on training and nutrition.
Twight and I seem to have read the same books. Twight's nutrition advice agrees with Dr. Michael Colgan's groundbreaking 1993 book Optimum Sports Nutrition; and Colgan's strength training advice from The New Power Program: Protocols for Maximum Strength seems in line with Twight's (Twight now uses Crossfit training elements in his strength training protocol which I've also employed in mine). Twight's advice for cardiovascular training is a departure from the norm in that he advocates intensive (interval) training before extensive (long endurance) in the macro training cycle. If that sounds complicated, it is. Go read the book ;o)
Core training. Photo © Laura Liong
It's about a year til my Everest climb, and from Experience, I know I'll get burned out if I try to plan out a macro training program that allows me to achieve peak fitness once in a whole year. So I've broken it down into two roughly 6-month long programs. I plan to peak my fitness to climb Mt. Chola, China (6168m) in August, take a short break, and the train up again to peak fitness for the Mt. Everest climb in the Spring of 2011.