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Training Advice for Mt. Humphrey's


I am wanting to train for Mt. Humphrey's in the Spring and would love any tips on how to prepare for that over the next few months. Based off the advice I received from my local store associates in Chandler, AZ for Flat Iron I was able to crush that after prepping for 3 months (I'm from the midwest and often hike solo so I like feeling confident before trying something out). Is there a list of hikes here surrounding the Phoenix area that would be good to start ticking off as the Spring approaches? Any cross training tips?

I have looked at people's blogs/websites but nothing really for newcomers.

Thanks for anything you have to suggest!

13 Replies

There is more than one Mt. Humphreys in the US, I believe.  If we are talking about Mt H, the highest point in Arizona, just north of Flagstaff, I can offer some advice based on numerous ascents, most of which were solo.

Depending on conditions and season, the difficulty may vary enormously due to snow and cold, but it is basically a straightforward hike, with no technical difficulty.  The most straightforward route is a drive to the Snow Bowl or thereabouts and head uphill. You eventually reach timberline and the ridge overlooking the Inner Basin.  From that point continue northwesterly up the ridge, enjoying the view, until you reach the summit.

I believe that now some climb from the Inner Basin, which was closed to entry in my day.  Hopefully there will be comments by more recent climbers

Unless you encounter severe conditions - a heavy snowpack and cold, a hike to the summit is a good trip, if you are beginning your alpine career (and even if you are not!!)

Altitude may be an issue, especially coming from Phoenix.  Get some previous exposure to altitude, like hikes on Mt. Lemmon or Mt Wrightson (near Tucson).  Spend a day or two in Flag to begin acclimatizing and heed the mantra, "Climb high, sleep low.'  Maybe drive up the hill a bit, look around, and then descend.  Don't expect to set any speed records.

Just general hiking, cycling, or running will give you the necessary fitness, but you may still feel the effects of altitude, regardless.  

Conditions can vary considerably.  In the spring, you may encounter deep snow or bare ground, depending on the snowfall received.  Watch the weather report and be flexible.

I worked near Flag for several years.  I have stayed at my inlaws house in Flag, climbed the peak and returned by noon and mowed their lawn in the afternoon.  That's a summer excursion.

On the other hand, on my first ascent in December, we were training for later climbs of the Mexican volcanoes.  We spent the night at the Snow Bowl in -40F temps.  I alone reached the summit since I was the only one with snowshoes, which I abandoned on the descent, thereby spending the most miserable night of my life huddled in a snowbank, exhausted and waiting for dawn.  What undoubtedly kept me injury free was the small stove I carried, a last minute decision.  

Like nearly all mountain ascents, an early start is recommended.  Weather on Mt H typically worsens in the afternoon.


Have fun and let us know how it goes.....

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Hi hikermor,

Thank you for your advice! Yes, I meant the one in Flagstaff. It is helpful to know my idea of heading to Tucson to hike a few of those and staying in Flagstaff for a few days are good ideas, and glad it was confirmed by your post. 

I think I was more worried about how to get used to the altitude changes and overall just being ready to take on this hike solo. 

I will keep you posted!


Being physically fit and being acclimatized are two different things.  And response to high altitude is highly variable.  Probably you will find you are going at a slightly slower pace and breathing more heavily, but you will still get there (and back, which is really the ultimate objective).

Just be mindful of the weather.  Spring can be unpredictable.  There is nothing between Flagstaff and the North Pole except a barbed wire fence....

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@ksosna You have received great advice so far! I am actually located in Phoenix right now, although I have spent a good number of years living in Tucson and other locations throughout the U.S. and the world.

One piece of advice I would add, which I always do when prepping for a high-altitude hike, trek, or climb, is to train on other trails with significant altitude gain ( @hikermor gave some great recommendations of places to train). Moreover, I always do this training with a pack that ways significantly more than what I plan to carry on my actual trip. This helps my body become accustomed to more weight than I expect, which makes the ascent so much easier when it actually comes to the real thing.

In the Phoenix area, Camelback Mountain would be a place I'd check out as a training ground.

Hope this helps! Feel free to shoot any other questions you have my way! I have summited numerous peaks in the U.S. and South America, each with varying degrees of technicality, difficulty, terrain, etc., and all in a broad range of conditions.

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Oh, also, @ksosna, I highly recommend using Nuun tablets for your electrolyte and hydration intake (still using water as your primary hydration source, of course). I use these on all of my excursions and have yet to find a product I like better. REI sells a 16-oz Nalgene bottle which is the perfect size for one Nuun tablet, also, which I absolutely LOVE!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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plus 1 to nunn tablets!  A really supeerb product!!!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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@bryndsharp Thank you for the advice!

I live in Tempe and have hiked Camelback before. Since the pandemic has happened it has been so crazy packed and definitely makes me a little hesitant to return. Is there any other hikes you might recommend within the city or around it?

How much weight do you recommend putting in there? I have a 32 pound Corgi that could come into some good use 😂

I scheduled a spring break trip to Tucson to hike a few of the recommended ones (Mt. Wrightson, Mt. Lemmon, Mt. Kimball).

@ksosna that's very true about covid traffic! I find that early morning on weekdays is still pretty mellow, though. Tomb's thumb is a great alternative, however, and is located quite close to Phoenix. This has a lot of elevation gain with minimal mileage, so it's great for a short yet intense training session. If you plan to go on weekends, I suggest starting early morning to avoid more people. I'm not too familiar with what else is near the Phoenix area itself, but heading east into the Superstition mountains I can tell you will definitely provide some training opportunities. 

What I typically do for weight is determine approximately how much weight (food, water, gear, etc.) I plan to take on my trip, then double that weight for training. I do this on a regular, however, with heavy packs, so doubling the weight isn't that drastic for me, even if my normal pack weights 80+ pounds. If you aren't used to carrying heavy packs, I'd suggest starting by adding about 1/3 of your pack's estimated trip weight and training with that (so adding about 33% of the pack's weight). See how that goes, then increase by increments of 1/3 (33%) until you get to 100% added weight (double your estimated trail weight).

I'm not a huge fan of treadmills, but sometimes when I can't get outside for various reasons, increasing the treadmill's inclination to max and carrying my pack on the treadmill is also a way to train for incline (sadly you don't get the elevation acclimation this way, though).

That's great! I have done a lot of hiking and backpacking on Mt. Lemmon, so if you want any recommendations, let me know the length/difficulty/terrain/amount of hiking time you are looking for, and I'll give you some options!

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@bryndsharpok, now I'm curious...your normal pack weight is around 80....pounds?  So your training weight is > 100?

goodness gracious!

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