Wei’s Way to the Royalest Peak

PRO Club member, Wei Liu, enjoys maintaining his fitness and seeks out challenges to keep his fitness focused. He has several marathons and half marathons under his belt, and he has taken Mountain Conditioning, a group fitness class offered at PRO Club, for many years. He enjoys the early morning challenges provided every Tuesday and Thursday.

In 2018 he saw an opportunity to further test his fitness – climbing Mount Rainier. Wei attended the Mount Rainier information session but due to high demand, he didn’t win the lottery for one of the few remaining spots to climb the mountain. With the hunger for alpine adventure so ravenous among members, PRO Club added a climb of Mount Baker. Wei jumped at the opportunity to join this climb and after great success with PRO Personal Trainer Tasha Whelan and team, Wei got a unique sunset summit on Mt. Baker.

Headed into 2019, he was first in line to tackle Mount Rainier.

Why Mt. Rainer? Wei explains. “Theodore Winthrop, in his 1853 book The Canoe and the Saddle, described Mt. Rainier this way: ‘Kingly and alone stood this majesty, without any visible comrade or consort…Of all the peaks from California to Frazer’s River, this one before me was royalest.’

“I felt for a long time Mt. Rainier had been inviting me to climb it,” Wei said. “So, it was a wonderful and joyous day when we summited the mountain on the first of July.”

“I found training with Tasha and team enabled me to do several things that I could not have done on my own,” says Wei. “For example, my training plan covered cardio, strength, flexibility, and agility training – all required and specific to mountain climbing.”

“On my own, my training would have been narrower and more one-dimensional,” said Wei. “And the team hikes were invaluable. Sometimes Tasha would set a brisk pace on a steep trail to test our fitness. If I could follow her pace without huffing and puffing, I’d feel good about my fitness level. Also, those team hikes provided us opportunities to build camaraderie and trust. The hiking partners became climbing partners and rope-teammates on the summit day.”

Highlights during training included the team hikes to off- the-beaten-path locations selected and scouted by Carl Swedberg. Wei found great joy in the serenity of being one of the few on unnamed peaks offering spectacular views of his future objective (Mt. Rainier) and, on a separate hike, dancing from rock to rock in shallow icy water river crossings to avoid waterlogged boots.

What’s next in line for Wei? He’s engaged in a marathon training plan set up by one of PRO Club’s great trainers and contemplating a PRO Club organized trekking adventure in Patagonia in December 2020.

“With a new goal, it’s easier to stay motivated,” says Wei. “I’ve found that if you can maintain your training routine (both cardio and strength) for a year or so, then it becomes a habit. This force of habit keeps you on track. PRO Club has a vast array of fitness classes that are very helpful and fun. I sign up some classes to give me a dose of extra motivation.”

Lessons learned

Keep an open mind when in doubt.

During months of training, it’s common to develop aches and pains here and there. Sometimes these lead to self-doubt: should I do the planned hike or run? The easy way out is to cancel it. However, the right way is to keep an open mind, get out and try to hike or run a couple miles, then reassess. Oftentimes the body feels fine after warming up. Then you can carry on to finish the hike or run.

Seek help and expertise.

I was new to mountain climbing with no experience whatsoever. So I reached out to Carl with one question: “I don’t do any snow sports. Does that disqualify me from a potential climb?” Carl responded promptly, “Not at all. Fitness and fortitude are the two key components. We provide tools for you to achieve the former if you bring the latter.” Carl’s response gave me great encouragement. I signed up the Mountain Conditioning class and started training. Goal achieved!

Written by Carl Swedberg, Director of Fitness Services at PRO Club

Are you wanting to try climbing? Check out our article on 5 Strategies to Start Climbing for some advice on how to get started.

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