Ask legendary climber and skier Adrian Ballinger if he calls himself an "adrenaline junkie" and he will say he doesn't believe it. Instead, the 45-year-old has made some incredible climbs without additional oxygen and is an avowed “logistics nerd”. Ballinger says if he gets adrenaline on one of his expeditions, it's because something is going wrong.
Thanks to his many years of experience, which he has led over 150 international climbing trips on six continents, Ballinger has developed into one of the most qualified climbers in the world. He's also the only American to have completed three ski runs from 26,000 feet.
Born in Cheltenham, England, Ballinger moved to the United States with his family and a lifelong passion for climbing would soon follow. He shares his experiences in this climbing guide from the base to the summit with "Muscle & Fitness".
“My first ascent was around 12 years old,” says Ballinger. “The father of a friend of the family gave us a lift and we started climbing in Massachusetts. That's when I got the first impression of being on the ground and being exposed, of being on a rope and something like that. "
Courtesy of alpenglowexpeditions.com
1. Get used to the great interiors
Ballinger says indoor climbing is a great way to get into the sport because it's done in more controlled and friendly conditions. “You get a bit of experience with the technical side, with ropes and the like,” he says. "You can move your body and find out your center of gravity, and then you also join the (climbing) community and meet people who love these sports."
The record holder says the best way to move outside is with the support of an expedition leader, as he has been leading for 25 years, Alpenglow Expeditions. “My and many other companies attach great importance to bringing people from the inside out,” says Ballinger.
2. Complete hills before climbing mountains
If you're willing to go outside alone or with a guide, respect the terms and know your limits. Ballinger gained much of his first climbing experience by conquering hills rather than mountains and testing his metal in the difficult conditions of winter. But when he climbed his first 20,000-foot peak at 17 by climbing Cotopaxi, an active volcano in the Andes of Ecuador, the relatively inexperienced climber occupied a last-minute slot on a guided climb, but soon learned how difficult the challenge would be.
"I was a pretty good athlete at school, I thought I was going to destroy these guys," he says. “I did everything wrong on this mountain. I got pretty sick and eventually got something called high altitude brain edema. ”It's a potentially fatal condition that goes well beyond mountain sickness and can lead to a brain prolapse.
Unsurprisingly, Ballinger couldn't handle this ascent and needed help descending, but he recovered and felt the urge to go into the after the initial fear of trying again
Mountains to see if he could do things smarter. When the teenager finally completed his first ascent, he was enthusiastic and became one of the most successful climbers in the world, rock by rock. "Most often someone calls me with the financial means and says I want to climb Everest," says Ballinger. "And I think that's great, but first we start on Kilimanjaro and then on Mount Rainier and then on Aconcagua in South America."
Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash
3. You have to be fit (obviously)
Ballinger says that it is difficult to train for an ascent without mountain experience, because here you learn to deal with unpredictable weather and get to know your own body, but since not everyone can train for a long time in the mountains due to their location or their daily work , he points out that functional body workouts are a great way for new and advanced climbers to increase their strength. It is logical that the more body fat we carry with us, the greater the burden when we try to travel upwards.
"When you get to bigger mountains and bigger goals, fitness is the piece you can control," says Ballinger. "There are so many unknowns and things that you can't control with big mountains, but fitness is the piece that I don't even want to question."
w in his 40s, Ballinger thinks a lot more about nutrition and recreation than he was in his 20s. “I can get incredible performance out of my body, I just have to be smart,” he says. wadays, Ballinger supplements with a multivitamin supplement to support his diet. He is also aware of the importance of magnesium and will drink electrolytes to stay hydrated and reduce the number of cramps experienced.
At the moment Ballinger has shifted his training towards strength and cardio. “I work with a company called Uphill Athlete. There are a lot of great training systems out there, but these guys have a lot of rdic, Olympic and big mountain experience, ”he says. “Right now, about 70% of my training is focused on basic cardio. We found that fasting and intermittent fasting really help me switch from carbohydrate burning to more fat. ”Ballinger also recreates the action of climbing by using his body weight and repeating other movements such as boxing steps.
4. Refuel the climb
Since the way to a mountain peak can take days of arduous climbing, it is usually the case that the body has collapsed before reaching the summit. In the beginning it is important to make sure that you are giving your body enough energy to meet such demands, but for someone climbing as high as Ballinger there is a point where eating is no longer possible, and This is where the importance of burning your existing fat reserves is never greater, as the body can no longer digest the food ingested through the stomach.
For someone like Ballinger, who exerted themselves climbing without supplemental oxygen, the strains on his body are epic. He definitely takes energy gels with him and even gets one last treat, such as a Snickers bar, before the food can no longer be processed. It's pretty extreme, but it shows how important it is for all climbers to fuel the trip.
5. Track your progress
There are many ways to track your progress as you climb. A fitness tracker is a great way to check your heart rate and vital signs, and there are GPS trackers to check that you are not going over your desired altitude. You can also set alarms to make sure you eat at regular intervals, such as when you are eating. B. every 30 minutes. "It's part of how you can get so much more out of the experience," says Ballinger. "When you've thought about it and planned so much."
Blazej Lyjak / Shutterstock
6. Respect the environment
As climbing continues to grow in popularity, people are gradually taking their toll on the beautiful scenery that we all would like to continue enjoying. So think about the camping gear and the rubbish that is left behind.
For Ballinger, his passion for nature earned him the love of his life. Climbing icon Emily Harrington and the happy couple will get married on the beach this December. Before that, however, 22 of her closest friends will return to Cotopaxi, the place where Ballinger experienced his first great ascent at the age of 17. There's a reason we call it "The Great Outdoors" you will enjoy it for generations to come. Have fun climbing!