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Wilderness Sports > Rock and Ice Climbing Training and Conditioning

Rock and Ice Climbing Training and Conditioning

Rock Climbing

Rock and Ice Climbing Overview

Technical rock and ice climbers require good flexibility in the hips, shoulders, and core muscles in order to negotiate wide stems, twisting overhangs, and high mantels. Technical climbers should develop core, upper and lower body strength for vertical travel with and without a pack. Anaerobic conditioning also is an important component in the technical climber's program, increasing in importance as the climber develops more advanced skills.

Rock climbing is technical class 5 climbing that is steep enough to require sticky-soled, snug-fitting rock climbing shoes as well as helmets, protection, and ropes for the safety of the climbing party. Ice climbing is climbing on routes that require crampons and two ice axes or ice tools. It may be done on frozen waterfalls (water ice) or solid glacier ice that is steeper than 40 degrees. If you are climbing low 5th class rock in mountaineering boots or you need only one ice axe to ascend icy slopes of less than 40 degrees, see the training tips for mountaineering. If the climbing is difficult enough to require rock shoes or the terrain requires two ice axes, see links below for information related to technical climbing.

Training Overview

Training for rock and ice climbing is usually going to involve a combination of training for specific fitness qualities, doing sport specific outings and practicing sport required skill elements. There are five major fitness qualities your general training should focus on for rock and ice climbing. Those qualities are:

  • Aerobic Endurance
  • Anaerobic Endurance
  • Upper Body Strength
  • Lower Body Strength
  • Flexibility

To learn more about the needed levels of fitness components for technical climbing and to understand more about sport specific and skill training read our Climbing Program Development section. Below you can find a directory of other pages to visit to get a greater understanding of training for climbing including potential goals, trip reports and special mountain coverage.

Training for Rock and Ice Climbing

Specific Article Recommendations

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Goals YOU can train for

Recommended Products for
Rock and Ice Climbing Training

The Outdoor Athlete by Courtenay and Doug Schurman

The Outdoor Athlete book. This new book will prepare you for your rock or ice climbing adventure with sample performance training programs designed to maximize outdoor enjoyment. Read more about the book - The Outdoor Athlete

Train To Climb Mt. Rainier DVD by Courtenay and Doug Schurman

Train To Climb Mt Rainier or any high peak DVD. Optimal training for high altitude mountaineering.

Special Coverage climbing Destinations


29,035 ft (8,850 m)

Nepal/Tibet, highest peak on Earth


19,344 ft (5,896 m)

Tanzania, highest peak in Africa

McKinley (Denali)

20,320 ft (6,194 m)

USA / AK, highest peak in North America


22,841 ft (6,962 m)

Argentina, highest peak in South America


14,411 ft (4,392 m)

USA / WA, highest peak in Washington


10,778 ft (3,285 m)

USA / WA, Specatacular glaciers


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