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Thoughts and adaptations during the pandemic

By Ashley Klassen and Theresa Soley

I close my eyes and try to imagine the Kahiltna Glacier. I’ve heard the flight in to Denali is magical.. I’ve dreamt of it. I bake in 75 degrees in the sun by a river as I write this; I thought I would soon be experiencing the coldest temperatures of my life. The strongest wind. Possibly some terrifying storms. I should be on a plane to Anchorage right now, full of excited butterflies. Instead I’ve driven down 1,000’ into a remote canyon deep in the heart of southwest Colorado, close to the border of Utah. The nearest town worth mentioning is hours away. (Don’t worry, I was recreating within my county!)

March 15th. The day I was laid off. They said it would just be for a week. It was the week I had planned to order all my Denali gear. I put it off. A week later I was more in tune with the news. I knew we wouldn’t reopen for several weeks or possibly the rest of the season. I knew I couldn’t afford Denali anymore and for me the trip was already off. Scared I wouldn’t have the money to pay rent or buy food for the next unknown number of months. I thought though, maybe by May things will have cleared. Another week goes by and we get the official announcement; the National Park Service has canceled all Denali and Foraker permits for the 2020 season.

We’ve worked on this trip like it was a 3rd job, but unpaid. We’ve all spent countless hours preparing, and working at our real jobs. Putting in about 60 hours a week, I spent up to 10 more hours each week planning or preparing for the trip. I had one and a half days off. I designated one of these days to preparing for the trip. I didn’t have internet or resources the other 5 days while I was at work. ~Ashley


Ideas for mountain training during the pandemic, in place of our cancelled trips, and with future ones in mind ~Theresa

1.) Set goals for yourself

2.) Start a training journal/log

3.) Maintain consistency

4.) Foster positivity in numbers 1-3

5.) Take moments of gratitude for your personal health

Image 1: The Three Pillars of Success [1]

1.) Set goals for yourself:

During this time of uncertainty about the future, goal-setting has been particularly challenging. When we can’t ascertain what our future access, timeline, travel and outdoor projects will look like, how can we set achievable goals? Maybe it’s time to rework our mindset about goal-setting.

Start small. Think yoga intentionality.

Advice from a Fish: “With all the possibilities out there in the vast {and uncertain} waters, the Fish becomes lost without clear goals and intentions.

Image 2: Fish equates to restlessness, change of focus,

feeling of being lost in the current [2]

“To bring into balance: set a small goal and accomplish it” [2]

Perhaps your goal is just confined to your quarantine space, and means working toward confidence in a yoga posture, or becoming more consistent in your hangboard work-out.

A small goal, or intention, is still a goal! Keep making them, and accomplishing them, too.

2.) Start a training journal/log:

I am a big fan of journal writing, and while I was trained to keep a yoga log and I attempt to maintain this continuity as a yoga teacher, I have never maintained a generalized training journal/log. I have just started this endeavor!

Grab a new notebook and make it into your training journal. Write in it several times a week to document what you’ve done. Be a scribe of your goals, and make upcoming training plans.

In other words, think like a Tarantula. “A habit or routine from the past is sidetracking you from your dream, yet a voice inside keeps begging you to refocus your attention… To bring into balance: daily journaling.” [2]

Image 3: Tarantula, claiming life’s purpose through

personal attention and journaling [2]

Don’t hesitate to take note of your feelings, too.

3.) Maintain consistency

Consistency in goal-setting and journaling supports consistency in training. I’m going to focus on three main aspects of consistency for physical training, and likewise, three parts of the body that deserve consistent attention.

Three types of physical training: Endurance, Strength, and Speed

Focusing on these three types of training will create a balanced body system, and even produce personal power

Endurance: “The ability to resist fatigue during exercise…Proper endurance training

helps one increase the time to fatigue at a given intensity.” [3]

Strength: Strength may be considered the basis of endurance. It refers to maximum reserve and physical ability.

Speed: Time it takes to cover a distance. Increased speeds mean covering a distance more quickly.

Power= Strength + Speed

Three body groups: Core, legs, arms

Here are activities or practices that can heighten endurance, strength and speed

Core: Yoga

I am a fan and advocate for yoga as a means to strengthen and soften all aspects of the mind and parts of the body at the same time, through ritual yoga practices. Below, watch and follow a yoga class video that focuses on core work, and includes shoulder, hip and leg stretches, too.

Don’t forget your side body core muscles -- both strengthen and stretch those obliques!

Legs: Run

My greatest leg strengthening, and endurance-based training, is running. For mountain training specifically I recommend adding elevation to your run work-outs, as well as pairing mountain runs with flat, easy and shorter runs. Plan a running schedule for the week ahead -- make goals and document your runs in your journal. I also recommend adding a yoga or stretching regimen in to balance your running practice.

Make your own running mileage goals. Each of our bodies are different. If you’re new to running, start with short runs in the 1-3 mile range.

See the leg and hip yoga practice video below, recorded on one of the Monday night Alaska Mountain Women Zoom gatherings and consider adding it to your leg training.

Arms: Hangboard + stretches to counterbalance hanging

Or, if you don’t have a hangboard, choose a yoga arm strengthening posture to work toward, like hand-stand or forearm-stand.

I purchased a subscription to 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers, an online hangboard course with Jonathan Siegrist, recommended by Climbing Magazine. So far, I love it for home hangboard, training and rock climbing tips. See the link at the bottom of this page to check out and purchase this class!

In addition to consistent training, consistency of nutrition and rest are key

Nutrition: According to Training for the New Alpinism, “The best source of vitamins and minerals is always food. Generally speaking, those who eat a well-balanced diet do not need to supplement with vitamins and minerals, because those of us who exercise more generally eat more. It follows that when you eat more food you also get more vitamins and minerals.” [3]

So, eat lots, particularly while you’re training all parts of your body from legs to arms.

My recommendations for your refrigerator and cupboards:

  • Fresh spinach or kale

  • Salmon

  • Avocado

  • Dry beans

  • Yogurt or nondairy milk

  • Apples with peanut butter

  • Eggs (but my doctor told me recently only one yoke per day!)

  • Nuts

Also, drink lots of water and start every day with a full breakfast. Mostly, eat with purpose.

Rest: During recovery periods we take much needed breaks from climbing and training. Generally, consider taking one full rest day each week. Focus on nutrition that day! And maybe journaling.

Also consider muscle rolling with tennis balls, or therapy balls. I tend to like shoulder, calf, and gluteus maximus rolling most. To learn more about therapy balls, click here.

Like a Butterfly, “committing to one daily routine… done at the same place and time will do wonders for lifting a Butterfly’s spirit.” [2]

Image 4: Like a Butterfly, during periods of transition, commit to a daily routine [2]



Wednesday, April 29th. At 9am google calendar sent me a reminder from the Alaska Mountain Women calendar “Rain, Casey, & Ashley arrive in Anchorage 1p”. Oh yeah, I should be on a plane with some of my best and most bad ass galpals headed for the trip of a lifetime. We all thought it would change things. Would change us. It was a huge stepping stone, we didn’t know where yet but we knew it was leading to somewhere. We all had our own dreams and fantasies. Would we summit? Would we ski? Would we bail? We would come out stronger, and more experienced. And already our minds had drifted to what we may be able to accomplish next year after this implausible trip. Denali. I never thought, not even last year. If you had told me 2 years ago, I’d be setting up to ski Denali with a group of rad ladies I would have laughed. I know I’m not the only one in our group who feels that way.

Yet there is simply too much to be thankful for. For each other. For roofs over our head and food in our bellies. That we can try again next year. Really, does it even matter? In the midst of so much.. what matters to us today? ~Ashley


4.) Foster positivity in numbers 1-3

This is a challenging time. All of our individual lives were turned upside down, and so was society. We are still reopening, reclosing, and rebuilding. Foster as much positive energy as possible in all you do. And when you feel let down, or sad, accept that, too.

In other words, try to be like an Otter. “Otter energy is the playfulness of a child, available to us at any age. They have a giddiness and reverence for life itself, without the presence of doubt, worry or skepticism.” [2]

Image 5: An Otter lives with unobstructed joy, playfulness and contentment [2]


What matters to you? Whether we can communicate with anyone outside of our homes, maybe. If we can work. Can we get unemployment? Will I get sick if I go to the grocery store? Will I get someone else sick? Will they die? How have your priorities changed in these times? Perhaps simply getting food on the table has become the ultimate task. My needs are met, and that seems more than I can ask for during these times. While many things have been put on hold for the next 12-24 months, I consider myself beyond blessed. I’m sitting by a river in the sun, in probably one of the most beautiful canyons in the world, or at least the States. I never have time to do this in April. It’s an amazing day. ~Ashley


5.) Take moments of gratitude for your personal mental health and well-being.

This is the yoga instructor in me talking, but how can we get through the day with positivity, during a pandemic, if we don’t take moments of gratitude for our own health. Maybe meditate. Perhaps take gratitude walks. Journal reflections of gratitude can do wonders, too.

WIthout gratitude, life is a loss.

Think like a Hummingbird, “Every droplet of life becomes sweet, every moment worth savoring.” [2]

Image 6: A Hummingbird summons spiritual resourcefulness to maintain

positivity and enthusiasm [2]


We hope you all are well. We acknowledge that this trip is not a need in our life, and that many people are suffering deeply right now. We send our love to those who find themselves in that scenario, and we are beyond grateful for this incredible life we are blessed with on this incredible earth. We wish you all strength to persevere, there is hope always. The sun always rises after the night.


Ashley Klassen

Denali 2020 Food Planner, Wrangell 2019 Route Planner

Hutkeeper at Opus Hut Backcountry Ski Hut, Ophir, CO

Theresa Soley

Yoga instructor, writer and aspiring mountain woman in Juneau, Alaska

Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts


[1] 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers online course with Jonathan Siegrist, published by Aim

[2] Krans, K. (2018). The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Guidebook. San Francisco, CA: HarperElixir and Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.

[3] House, S. & Johnston, S. (2014). Training for the New Alpinism A Manual for the Climber as Athlete. Ventura, CA: Patagonia Books.

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