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Thoughts any stair repeats vs one continuous slog?

NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,587 Member Member Posts: 10,587 Member
My most important outdoor goals this summer are a handful of summits (Desolation, Azurite, Abernathy, The Brothers) that will have me doing up to 6,500 feet of elevation gain in a day. I've been having fun getting ready by doing progressively bigger peaks.

I'm curious to hear people's thoughts and experiences with preparing for this sort of thing with stair or hill repeats vs one long grind. Obviously stairs are different from rocks and roots and having navigate without a trail, I'm just asking about the endurance benefits, how much less am I getting out of it for having to break my 3,500' up in stair case lengths vs just doing it all until I get to the top?

For what it's worth, most hiking here starts off with a tedious part that you have to get through to reach the heavenly stuff, which means I go at a sustainable pace instead of taking rest stops. I like to maximize my time in the high country.


  • Machka9Machka9 Member Posts: 19,267 Member Member Posts: 19,267 Member
    I climb stairs and find that the 10 or 11 floors up (20 individual stairs per floor) helps with cardio - being able to climb it without too much breathing difficulty - and with muscle conditioning. It takes some muscle strength to climb but going down really works the calves.

    Right now I can do about 40 floors per day reasonably comfortably mostly in 2 goes: about 20 in the morning and another 20 in the afternoon.

    I hope to start working on some speed soon.

    It won't hurt your big climbing challenge to be at least a little bit prepared like that and may help.
  • cheriej2042cheriej2042 Member Posts: 229 Member Member Posts: 229 Member
    This is just my personal opinion. I also hike at a sustained pace and I have found that doing long hikes that have elevation gain are the best preparation for what you are going to do. That doesn't mean you can't supplement with some stair or hill repeats on what I would call "recovery days" so you keep your hiking legs tuned up. But your focus should be on building endurance, stamina and strength. I do shorter hikes on some days (7-10 miles) with some elevation gain but I view those as just keeping my fitness level up for my longer hikes (12-?). I know people here who hike fast, take a lot of breaks, and I've seen them struggle on longer hikes (10 miles) and anything over 15 is like a marathon to them because they don't have the endurance training.

    I'm looking forward to the pictures of all this! Sounds like a lot of fun.
  • robertw486robertw486 Member, Greeter Posts: 2,235 Member Member, Greeter Posts: 2,235 Member
    Nothing beats the real thing, and overall endurance helps but isn't the entire answer IMHO. The cardio base is always important, but real trails are using a lot of different muscles in your ankles and feet vs say a stairclimber or elliptical that doesn't use those muscles.

    I never did many major hikes in length, but found that if we did smaller ones with intentionally more weight it was good training for the longer ones. The added weight helped strengthen your stability, which can go downhill sometimes one long hikes when fatigue sets in. The down side is coming down with the extra weight, which can be hard on the feet. Using water as extra weight can both be comfortable, and then easy to rid yourself of if you don't want to carry it back down.

    From your posts in the past you should be fairly used to the elevation, but if that's an incorrect assumption then finding hikes that start higher helps too. I lived in flatters areas most of the time, so we would often find hikes that started at 3000-4000ft so we would spend more time getting used to the elevation as well.

    Where I live now it's just flat.... I miss the west coast in that regard.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,587 Member Member Posts: 10,587 Member
    I went to a park in a neighborhood I like, also chosen because I knew I could safely leave clothes in the car (and not get broken into). Long stair case. My watch said 36% grade at the steepest. That generates too much soreness, doing a lap doesn't hurt but I could tell that doing a hikecs worth of vertical on the stairs will hurt more. Since I think I need to keep my volume up, that's not the answer.

    I did 1,100 cumulative vertical feet on a smallish local hill, one lap at a time. I didn't fully appreciate just how boring it would be. I'm very spoiled to love most of the exercise I do. I was thinking hill repeats could save me a long drive on weekend days when the weather is foul, I don't think that's going to work. I'm going to try a longer hill before giving up on the idea.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,587 Member Member Posts: 10,587 Member
    I've noticed that doing the vert is easier when I bike more. I think it's that going at a higher average intensity than hiking for a few hours at a time helps me with the constant energy outlay of walking up a mountain.

    I have one weekend day free, I'm using it for a long hike with lots of uphill. I'm going to start paying more attention to how I spilt my weekday time between walking trails in local parks and on the bike.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,587 Member Member Posts: 10,587 Member
    I'm looking forward to the pictures of all this! Sounds like a lot of fun.


    I went to pick out photos from Hex Mountain to share a trip report, and my computer won't power up. Turns out fixing it costs more than it's worth. The good news is the photos are all still there. So, I have to figure that out before I can post more photos. 🙃

    I'm planning to carry a tripod and an SLR up Desolation Peak and spend the night on the summit shooting starry skies. So this computer thing doesn't fit into my plans.

    I day hiked Desolation a couple years ago with a buddy - here's what it looks like.[email protected]/48101366498/in/album-72157683459739290/[email protected]/48101317741/in/album-72157683459739290/[email protected]/48101423237/in/album-72157683459739290/

    I don't know how to get the urls to the images without a computer, I'm posting from my phone.
  • cheriej2042cheriej2042 Member Posts: 229 Member Member Posts: 229 Member
    Wow those photos leave me speechless! You live in such a beautiful place - a hikers paradise. Do you see many people out there? What kind of wildlife is there?
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,587 Member Member Posts: 10,587 Member

    Hiking is extremely popular here and most trails within a couple hours of Seattle are crowded. Some are very crowded. That one, the only people I saw were rangers who flew in to open the lookout tower. Getting to Desolation from Seattle is: drive 3 hours, hike 3 miles, rent a small boat, take it 16 miles up the lake, tie it to a tree stump while you hike.

    I'm extremely lucky to be able to stay in a little floating cabin on the lake. The National Park Service has a lodge. 😁
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