Koko FitClub member, Chris Cook, recently summited Mt. Whitney in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Quite an endurance feat, considering Whitney is the highest mountain in the 48 contiguous states and, at 14,505 feet, one of the highest in North America.
Chris wanted to climb this particular mountain since he first laid eyes on it more than 20 years ago. Chris says he was a hiker/backpacker since his early 20′s and has hiked all around the Sierra, but never Mt. Whitney.
At 42 years old, Chris was out of shape and overweight, but still wanted to stand on top of Mt. Whitney. He first joined Koko FitClub in March and decided to get into shape and lose some weight. Here’s what his training program looked like:
Chris initially concentrated on the audio-based Koko Cardio workouts, but also incorporated Koko strength training. During his first month of training, he did 15 minutes of treadmill work and 30-minute strength sessions, several times a week. He started losing weight while building lean muscle mass. As his training program progressed, Chris increased his training to 30 minutes on the treadmill (2 Koko sessions) using programs that included 10% incline. His strength workouts were 30 minutes circuit based programs using all major muscles groups needed for a climbing adventure.
By the last few weeks before the hike, Chris was doing 45 minute cardio sessions with the treadmill at 11-15%, while his strength session stayed at 30 minutes.
Near the end of his training, his club released the new Koko Cardio 2.0 with a new suite of programs, and Chris was surprised to find — purely by coincidence — the “Mt. Whitney” treadmill workout, a program I created based on a colleague’s trek up that same mountain. Surely a sign that this was meant to be!
Chris’ resting heart rate in early April 2014 was 72 bpm, by the middle of June it was down to 62 bpm! He lost a total of 17 pounds over the course of three months that he trained for the climb.
According to Chris’ research, the Mt. Whitney Trail is one of the most difficult in the US, with just under 6200 ft. of elevation gain over 11 miles (that’s 22 miles round trip). Starting elevation is 8360 ft. and the trail ends at the summit at 14,505 ft.
Some people do the hike over 2-3 days, but Chris decided to do it in one day. This hike was a personal challenge for him. He started hiking at 3 am, reached the summit at 3:30 pm, returned back to the trailhead at 1:30 am that night — a total of 22.5 hours of hiking.
Rangers say 50% of people who attempt to summit do not make it, either because of altitude sickness or fatigue.
Chris Cook made it.
The hardest part of the hike for Chris was the infamous 99 Switchbacks. This part of the trail ascends a steep section from 12,000 ft. to 13,600 ft. He reached Trail Crest Pass and the crest of the Sierra Nevada at 13,600 ft.
Chris is also an incredible photographer, and shared some fantastic shots, including a scenic shot from the summit, showing his Koko Pride. http://www.abmedia.com/astro/articles/whitney.html.
Congratulations, Chris, on your awesome achievement. It’s amazing what you can do when you are Koko Strong!
Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub
Interested in Koko?
Try 30 days of complete fitness and coaching for just $30.
About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.