MTI prepared me for the mountains
This fall I spent 2.5 months in the mountains and backcountry hunting Dall Sheep, caribou, mountain goats, moose and Stone Sheep. As a hunter and camera operator, my pack would routinely weigh 60 lbs, with a day pack of 40 lbs or more. We would do 20 km days, up to 60 km with light packs (overnight sprints) and up to 4500’ (1400 m) of elevation in a single day (60 lb pack). A third of a caribou and camera gear is north of 100 lb. Hunting days could run from 5:00 am to 1 am on occasion, but we were always up before the sun.
I started the Backcountry Big Game Hunting Packet with Humility. I completed over 90% of the workouts, though sadly was unable to do all of the “mini-events” found in the Backcountry Big Game Training Plan. I began the program in good shape and had been completing weekly rucks with 60-80 lbs (two hours) since January of this year.
As the mountain hunting season comes to a close, I have some observations about the results of my training:
– I never had sore shoulders or chassis from carrying the weight.
– I never had sore legs, even after the hardest days.
– I felt 100% capable of doing what was needed.
– My upper body was sufficiently strong to meet all challenges
– My weight didn’t drop during training (I could work on my diet a bit).
My 30-minute step-up results went from 815 (July 15) to 824 (September 26). I would associate much of the modest increase to determination and technique, so it does not indicate a substantial fitness improvement. My weight would have been about five lb heavier in September.
In summary, if anyone wants to be capable in the mountains, this program will get them there.
The only aspect of my fitness I will change for next season is related to my anaerobic threshold and my ability to push into a higher gear and go harder. As long as it was a slow grind, I was capable. When the time came to push up steeper country, the wheels would more or less fall off and I would be left working at a higher than I thought I should need to (heart rate of 170, for example). The elevated heart rates compromised my ability to think and film, and in steep goat terrain, this can be a liability.