How Tim Emmett Trains for the Alpine
When it comes to ice climbing—or training for ice climbing—there are few that can match Mountain Hardwear athlete Tim Emmett. Year after year, Emmett establishes some of the most difficult dry-tooling and ice climbing routes in the world, including the recent first ascent of Mission to Mars, a 40-meter WI13 at Helmcken Falls in Canada. To ascend this route, currently the world’s hardest ice route, Emmett’s training had to also be the world’s hardest ice climbing training. But don’t worry, the exercises are adaptable to any skill or strength level, and as you get stronger, there are plenty of options to up the intensity. Here Emmett shares his pre-season training routine, as well as his go-to tips to push yourself on the ice.
Here’s a week of Emmett’s running training
- 1 day of steep hill training with weight. Depending on your current fitness level (start with 5lbs. and go from there; Emmett wears 20-40 lbs.), don a weight vest, sprint up a short hill, then walk back down. Rest 2 to 3 minutes and repeat. Do this for 30 to 60 minutes total.
- 1 day of speed hill training without weight. For 10 seconds, he runs uphill at maximum effort. He rests 2 to 3 minutes then runs up again a max effort, repeating this cycle 10 times total.
- 2 days of 30- to 60-minute low-intensity runs that are slow enough to provide recovery from the speed days.
- Circuits while hanging from tools. He tries to replicate the steepness and time he’ll be spending on that angle on the hardest pitch of his objective.
- Max hangs. This is simple: hang from two ice tools with as much weight as you can add on, aiming to hang for 4 to 15 seconds. Rest about a minute, then repeat this 3 to 5 times, with a 2 to 3 minute rest between sets, depending on how conditioned you are.
- Pull-ups on gymnastic rings or ice tools
- Alternating leg front levers on ice tools
- Windshield wipers (British-born Emmett calls them “windscreen wipers”) with straight or bent legs, add ankle weights to get the maximum effect
- Calf raises. You can do these on your steps. Start with 20 raises on each calf, with a 2min rest in between. Do 3-5 sets 3 times a week. You can slowly add more steps in, then start adding weight.
- Box steps. Use a stable box, shelf, steps, bench, or chair that is somewhere around 16 to 18 inches tall. Load your backpack with about 25 lbs., and do 50 step-ups, alternating legs, then rest 3 to 5 minutes. Place your foot squarely on the center (not on the edge), and make sure to step all the way up so the stepping leg is straight. Do 3 sets twice a week.