Lhotse 2010 preview: Himalaya training - Kazakh style

Posted: Feb 16, 2010 02:40 pm EST

Saturday, American speed skater Apolo Ohno became an Olympic record holder. Dogged determination ("every day!"), Apolo said was the reason for his success, plus four (!) daily 2-hours training sessions.

Fast, strong, and determined, Kazakh climbers are outstanding when it comes to climbing at high altitude. Currently, the men are doing three daily ascents in preps for the upcoming Lhotse attempt.

Fresh from a winter attempt on Kwangde Lho, Vassiliy Pivtsov has joined the team for the first of two preparatory climbing sessions.

Each two weeks long, they take place at the CSKA (Kazakhstan Armys Sports Club) training camp, on the snow-capped peaks near Almaty.

Here the workout tips - do try them at home - from Vassiliy and team coach Iljinsky, courtesy of ExWeb's long-time contributor Andrey Verkhovod.

The Kazakh way

CSKA alpinist camp, Tuyuk-Su, is located at about 2450m in northern Tien Shan, in a valley called Malaya Alma-Atinka.

During the first training session the climbers complete three daily mountain ascents here, each performed in different style and speed.

According to Iljinsky, this is part of a so called special physical training phase designed to improve altitude endurance with climbs between 2500m and 3500m.

1) It starts with a morning run to nearby ski resort Chimbulak (at aprox. 2250m) and back up to the CSKA camp. This climb is made in running style at continuous fast pace.

2) A tougher climb follows to Alpingrad (3,450m) a spot traditionally used as ABC for nearby peaks. With several inclination degrees, from almost flat to quite steep, this 5 km trip is particularly suited to improve altitude endurance. This climb is made in so-called ¾ mode at about 75 - 80% of max physical capacity. The team covers the trip to Alpingrad in around 1:05 /1:10 hour, pending route conditions.

3) Upon return the climbers rest in camp before the final and slower climb back towards Alpingrad, this time stopping mid-way at Mynzhilki Dam, located at around 3040m and 4 kms away from CSKA.

With that, the Kazakh climbers' daily training adds up to approx. 200+1000+500 = 1700 vertical meters (positive and negative).

Take 2: the 4000er training

During the second training session climbers make speed climbs to Alpingrad along with summit climbs of nearby 4000ers.

Favorite training target is Ordzho (Ordzhonikidze) the highest mountain (4410m) in the Malaya-Almatinka valley.

By the end of the second training session the team spends about 3 days at 3,980 meters on the Ordzhonikidze Pass with daily ascents to the peaks summit. This is especially useful in midwinter when the area tends to be very cold and windy. In addition, the route from the pass to the summit is rather difficult 3B in Soviet climbing difficulty scale.

Fit all year long

To these sessions, potential team members train and workout regularly both indoor in Almaty and outdoor on nearby hills. Months before the team's composition is decided, all applicants are training at least twice a week. In addition, they all take part in expeditions to Tien Shan, Pamir and/or Himalaya ranges.

The chosen team members undergo scrupulous medical examination, conducted at the main (Republican) Sports Medical Center. The testing is carried out by the centers doctors and experts from Kazakhstan Institute of Human and Animal Physiology. (Ed. note: Vassiliy Pivtsov is a researcher with the latter institute (see photo)).

Last spring, the Kazakh National team tried the unclimbed Lhotse-Everest traverse. Using no supplementary O2 the men made two summit attempts. The final summit push ended with retreat in bad conditions and loss of team member Serguey Samoilov. The team will return for Lhotse only this time.

Except for some last-minute changes, the team's core will consist mainly of last year's climbers, the leading members of CSKA (Central Sports Club of Kazakh Army). They are Max Zhumayev, Vaso Pivtsov (just back from a winter attempt on Kwande Lho), Evgeniy Shutov and Alex Sofrygin. Younger members of CSKA may be included as well.

#Mountaineering #Medical #topstory

Maxut Zhumayev in endurance check.
Image by Vasiliy Litvinov courtesy Vasiliy Litvinov - Andrey Verkhovod
Kazakh bivy on Ordzhonikidze Pass (3,980m).
Image by Alexander Rudakov courtesy Alexander Rudakov - Andrey Verkhovod
Kazakh climbers during training last March. Vaso Pivtsov second from left, Serguey Samoilov (wearing black and blue) was later lost on Lhotse.
Image by Alexander Rudakov courtesy Alexander Rudakov - Andrey Verkhovod
Almaty glow as seen from Ordzhonikidze Pass.
Image by Alexander Rudakov courtesy Alexander Rudakov - Andrey Verkhovod
The team's pet fox - a regular visitor on bivy nights.
Image by Alexander Rudakov courtesy Alexander Rudakov - Andrey Verkhovod
Ordzhonikidze Peak is the middle summit.
Image by Alexander Rudakov courtesy Alexander Rudakov - Andrey Verkhovod
CSKA's climbers training area.
Image by Google Maps courtesy Andrey Verkhovod compiled on Google maps
Vasso Pivtsov, at the computer, notes Alex Sofrygin's performance.
Image by Vasiliy Litvinov courtesy Vasiliy Litvinov - Andrey Verkhovod