Mountaineering Fitness Book Teaser

I’ve been working for a couple years on and off with my Couch to Colorado 14er Training Program. This mountaineering fitness program is going on right now  by Subscription only [HERE]. My group has received their first of 11 emails with the training materials that will get them hiking and to the summit by the end of the summer.

I switched over to the more generic sounding “Mountaineering Fitness” category so that I could add in other books for other objectives as time goes forward. This year I want to get people to the top of a 14er or equivalent peak. Who knows what mountaineering fitness goal I can come up with for next year?

The book, both Kindle and paperback, should be available in about a month for those who want to read it outside of the Subscription. For those in this group I’d like to share the almost final draft of my opening few chapters here.

Mountaineering Fitness results - Happy to be on top. Todd Gilles and Charles Miske after climbing Kelso Ridge on Torreys
Mountaineering Fitness results – Happy to be on top. Todd Gilles and Charles Miske after climbing Kelso Ridge on Torreys


Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training Manual

Couch to Colorado 14er Program

a fitness plan for armchair mountaineers

©2013-2014 by Charles Miske



Late in the summer of 2005 I weighed 220 pounds, mostly gained from working 60 hour weeks at a tech job. I attempted Castle Peak, a Colorado Fourteener with a road up to 12,000’ good for 4×4 vehicles. I didn’t summit, because I was really out of shape. I started out too quickly, since in my own mind I was still young and strong and fast. I got lost, lacked confidence on the rough trail near the top, and ran out of time. I didn’t have a headlamp to negotiate the trail in the dark.

A few weeks later I did manage to hike to the summit of Torreys, another Colorado Fourteener. I camped near the trailhead, got a very early start, and allowed more time to go up. Sadly, it took nearly twice as long to descend to the trailhead as it took to get to the top. Going down was really hard on my body, and I was really beat up by the time I got back to the car.

This sorry condition was frustrating to me, because just five years before I had climbed four of the 14ers in one summer, and was among the faster hikers on the trail. I guess that’s what happens when you abandon your fitness in return for success at a desk job. A long time ago I had a personal trainer certification. I had exercised off and on since I was 19. I had been a year-round bicycle commuter. I had run several 5K and 8K races and done well. I never even noticed that I had gained so much fat and become so unfit.

The next fall, 2006, after ballooning up to nearly 240 pounds, my daughter was born. When I looked at her little face, I realized that I had put my health at risk, and if I wanted to watch her grow up, I would need to make some serious changes, starting right that minute. I finally had the motivation to begin a fitness program designed to get me to the top of the mountain. With my love of hiking and climbing, I knew that if I were to focus on the rewards of trips to the mountains, I could sustain a program to return to the me I used to be. Over the next four years I lost 60 pounds, and kept it off for another four years as of this writing in Spring 2014.

During my fat loss journey I started took up several sports and adventure activities. I’ve climbed rock and ice, on glaciers and couloirs. I’ve run on the road in 10K and half marathons. I’ve run on trails in 10K, half marathon and full marathon races. I successfully ran the Qualifier for Elbrus Race 2010, and finished under the cutoff for Elbrus Race 2013. I trained the 3rd place finisher for Elbrus Race 2013, one of my proudest achievements in training an elite athlete.

I studied and experimented with several different training and eating theories. I have figured out since then how I could have sped up my progress quite a bit, and I know that in general you too can have the same results that I got, only in less time and with less effort. In this book I will focus more on the training aspects of the program. If you want more information about how to lose fat quickly using proven, sound science please check out my other book The 100 Calorie Diet Plan – a food portion control program for fast, efficient, fat loss.

We began discussing this journey with a Colorado Fourteener. Let’s start on the path to achieve that goal now, and if climbing a 14er is the carrot on your stick, then by all means, let’s get you to the top.

Me, 240 pounds, January 2008. Mountaineering Fitness fixed that quick
Me, 240 pounds, January 2008. Mountaineering Fitness fixed that quick


At one time I was a Certified Personal Trainer. I let it expire when it was obvious that I would make more money as a Tech Support Manager. I didn’t go to medical school or get a degree in any health related field.  The information presented in this book is a compilation of the knowledge I gained from several different seminars I attended over the years as I studied to get my personal trainer certification, from seminars I attended as someone interested in the extremes of physical and athletic performance, as someone who had the inkling of an idea that I’d be writing this and other training plans, and from practical hands-on experience with both myself, and the athletes I consult and coach for.

I can’t promise anything, or make any claims of a medical or professional nature. Your results are up to you. I also can’t promise that you will not be injured in any way or capacity, mental or physical. I suggest that you get clearance to accept the challenge of this program from a properly licensed medical professional before you begin. If you need assistance from an Adaptive Training Specialist, please have them contact me for suggestions and advice on how to accommodate any special needs you might have.

Having assumed that you are cleared by a qualified medical professional I hope that you agree that I cannot possibly be held accountable for what you do with the information presented here, which is basically a collection of traditional workout and training methods presented in a program format that I personally feel for myself is suitably applicable to climbing one or more of the Colorado Fourteeners. As the car commercials so carefully state in the fine print “Your Mileage May Vary”. Be aware, alert, and careful not to hurt yourself in any way. I would feel bad, if nothing else.

Again, in a nutshell, no promises, no guarantees, get permission, don’t hurt yourself.


Do you want to climb a mountain? Have you climbed one before? Maybe when you were younger or more fit? I’m assuming you’re not all that ready to climb one now, since you’re reading this. I’m here to help you become fit enough to climb a mountain. This program is 16 weeks long. You can start it any time. I hope you never really ever quit this program. I hope you continue to grow in fitness and health. If you need to grow new muscle, I can help you. If you need to shred off some fat, I can help with that too. Even if you need to do both I can get you where you want to go. But let’s get back to that mountain now.

“The Mountains are calling and I must go.” — John Muir

If you’re wanting to do a hike on a bigger type mountain, something to prove to yourself that you have what it takes, I recommend climbing a Colorado Fourteener. Otherwise spelled 14’er or 14er according to Google. This is a peak with a summit over 14,000’ above sea level. Officially and unofficially, there are different rules to determine if it’s a “summit” or just a bump on the ridge of another big mountain. There are over 50 such mountains in Colorado. The exact number depends on which list you accept. That is only important if you’re going to try to do all of them. If you just want to have a great day out in the mountains with the potential for a beautiful view, maybe see some mountain goats or pika, and a great physical challenge, there are lots of mountains to choose from. Many of them have decent road access and a trail that most people of at least average fitness can successfully hike in a single day.

Mountaineering Fitness now allows me to run up many mountains
Mountaineering Fitness now allows me to run up many mountains

I noticed that there are several “Couch to…” books and guides and manuals out there. You could go to a running website and order “Couch to 5K”, “..10K”, “..Half Marathon”, “..Marathon” etc. In my mind climbing a Fourteener is roughly equivalent to running in a half marathon. Yes, thousands of people do it each week, but to someone who has never run one before, it seems rather extreme. In general a good training program during a period of 12-16 weeks could get you from the couch to finishing one. Maybe not in a great time, but finishing a half marathon is possible with about 4 months of training. Climbing a Colorado 14er with 4 months of training is realistic. I suppose that just about any similar mountain climbing goal would be quite possible in that time frame.

If you want to get off the couch and onto the top of one of the highest mountains in the Continental USA, let me help you get in shape over the next 16 weeks. Make a commitment to get on the program, and at the end test yourself. Test your fitness and endurance by hiking one of the Colorado Fourteeners

One of the first things you want to do is find out exactly where you stand physically right this minute. Or at least this week. Keep in mind that I can’t really assess you in person right now, so I’m going to have to trust you to do this for me, okay? It’s very important for both of us that you start out on the right foot.

If you want to pre-order a copy, subscribe to the blog or Like my Facebook Page for the first notice of when it will be available. You can get just the paperback or Kindle from Amazon, or generic eBook and Video files from me. Check back for when Mountaineering Fitness Book One is available.