We can’t just be fit and pretty, we have to do something!
– Gerry Roach

Ascent Training By Coach Roach

Arriving at the base of the mountain equipped to climb it is half the challenge!
– Gerry Roach, expedition equipment coordinator, upon arriving at Everest base camp
in 1976, with the soon to be successful American Bicentennial Everest Expedition.
Your physical, mental, and spiritual preparations for an ascent are as important as your actions during the ascent. Additionally, your choice of season, route, companions, and logistical support are vital to the success of any mountain adventure. There are many fine climbing schools that will ‘teach’ you a skill set, and there are many guide services that offer to ‘take’ you to a summit. I believe that skills must be ‘learned,’ and that really learning a mountain craft takes time, patience, and practice beyond what any school can offer. I also believe that one must ‘earn’ a summit, and that it is each individual climber’s responsibility to accept that talisman. School or no school, guide or no guide, it is ultimately your legs, lungs and spirit that take you up there. If you want to go beyond basic services, and become more self-reliant in the mountains, my custom coaching programs can help. After communicating with you so that I can understand your desires, strengths and weaknesses, and after arranging an agenda, I will create a custom program for you that is tailored to your specific mountaineering goals, abilities, and needs. Then, I will communicate with you through the term of your program to give you the best chance of success in your adventure.
Gerry became the first person to climb the ten highest peaks in North America in May of 2000 with his ascent of 18,008-foot Mount Saint Elias, considered by many to be the toughest high peak in North America.
My coaching programs are derived from my long and rich mountaineering experience. I have dreamed, schemed, created, and led hundreds of trips to the Earth’s mountains on seven continents for the last 50 years. Having ‘seen it all,’ I now feel uniquely qualified to help others. All my programs are infused with my passion to help mountaineers be more self reliant and empowered. For a complete list of my ascents, see about Gerry Roach. While my experience is extensive, I am not a doctor, and will always advise that you take your medical questions to your doctor. Other than this, I take a ‘complete package’ approach to prepare you for your adventure, and accordingly, my custom programs provide advice in one or more of the following 20 ‘Empowerments.’

What others are saying about Coach Roach

My Empowerments:

I’ve never seen a good climber who wasn’t stronger than heck!
– Mark Hesse after soloing Denali’s South Face
1. Achieving the required physical fitness for your goal
 1.1 Aerobics
 1.2 Strength
 1.3 Flexibility
 1.4 Balance
 1.5 Preparing for cold temperatures


The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt
2. Achieving the desired mental acuity for your goal
 2.1 Developing and maintaining a positive attitude
 2.2 Developing and applying a laser-beam focus
 2.3 Processing fear
 2.4 Visualization techniques


I didn’t know if I was going to the summit, or the summit was coming to me.
– Gerry Roach from Ten Tadasanas
3. Achieving the desired spiritual awareness for your goal
 3.1 Centering
 3.2 Nurturing your love
 3.3 Synthesis
 3.4 Synergy


Hiking is the basis for all mountaineering.
– Gerry Roach from Training for the Mountaineer
4. Developing your hiking skills
 4.1 Foot placement
 4.2 Stride length
 4.3 Pacing
 4.4 Making good micro route choices


Rock climbing is the basis for all technical mountaineering.
– Chris Bonington
after returning from a successful ascent of the Vinson Massif in Antarctica
5. Developing your rock climbing skills
 5.1 Basic rope craft
 5.2 Anchors
 5.3 Protection
 5.4 Hold selection
 5.5 Movement techniques
 5.6 When to rope up
 5.7 Rappelling


In your storm years, visit the great glaciated ranges!
– Geoffrey Winthrop Young
6. Developing your snow and ice climbing skills
 6.1 Step kicking in snow
 6.2 Basic ice ax techniques
 6.3 Basic use of crampons
 6.4 Anchors
 6.5 Placing protection
 6.6 Preventing falls
 6.7 Stopping falls
 6.8 Advanced techniques


A directional error of a few degrees leaving Rainier’s summit
can put you on an entirely different route lower down!
– Gerry Roach from Transcendent Summits
7. Developing your navigational skills
 7.1 Map and compass
 7.2 GPS
 7.3 Natural techniques
 7.4 Measuring the mountain
 7.5 Making good macro route choices
 7.6 Route selection in rough terrain
 7.7 Route selection in dense woods
 7.8 Route selection on rock
 7.9 Route selection on snow
 7.10 Route selection in low visibility


We can climb anything if we’re comfortable enough!
– Gerry Roach on Alaska’s Mount Hunter in 1994
8. Selection of and acquisition of appropriate equipment
 8.1 Clothing
 8.2 Footgear
 8.3 Packs
 8.4 Camp gear
 8.5 Stoves
 8.6 Technical equipment
 8.7 Shopping for gear


What rope?
– Reinhold Messner
9. Going light
 9.1 What you need
 9.2 What you don’t need


The McKinley River crossing was the hardest part of our Denali climb!
– Gerry Roach from Northern Heights
10. River crossings
 10.1 Hazards
 10.2 Precautions
 10.3 Techniques
 10.4 Rescue techniques
 10.5 Case histories


He’s down! Way down!
– Jerry Halpern
spotting his partner in a deep crevasse on the Yukon’s Mount Lucania in 1967
11. Travel on crevassed glaciers
 11.1 Glacial movement
 11.2 Hazards
 11.3 Precautions
 11.4 Rescue techniques
 11.5 Case histories


Flow like water going uphill!
– Gerry Roach from Training for the Mountaineer
12. Ascending
 12.1 Techniques
 12.2 Pacing
 12.3 Making a schedule
 12.4 Sticking to your schedule
 12.5 Adjusting your schedule
 12.6 When to turn around


With another camp, I could have climbed to 31,000 feet!
– Gerry Roach in Everest base camp after his successful summit climb in 1983
13. Acclimating to high altitudes
 13.1 Pre-trip planning
 13.2 Pre-trip preparation
 13.3 Hazards
 13.4 Precautions
 13.5 Sticking to your schedule
 13.6 Adjusting your schedule
 13.7 Using Supplemental Oxygen
 13.8 Rescue considerations
 13.9 Case histories


It was mostly an exercise in high-altitude camping.
– Chris Bonington,
leader of the successful Everest Southwest Face expedition in 1975
14. High altitude camping
 14.1 Site selection
 14.2 Camp construction
 14.3 Snow caves
 14.4 Igloos
 14.5 Enduring storms
 14.6 Breaking camp


A summit is not an idea, a crater rim or an area. It is a single, well-defined point.
– Gerry Roach
in a discussion about reaching Kilimanjaro’s summit - from Ride the Breath
15. Summiting
 15.1 Foreshortening
 15.2 The other 90%
 15.3 Getting the job done
 15.4 Reserves


The summit is only halfway!
– Gerry Roach from Training for the Mountaineer
16. Descending
 16.1 Techniques
 16.2 Pacing
 16.3 Scheduling
 16.4 Dealing with fatigue
 16.5 Reserves
 16.6 Getting the job done


It was like squeezing through a closing door!
– Bob Cormack after returning from Everest’s summit in 1976
17. Increasing your speed in the mountains
 17.1 Speed training techniques
 17.2 Speed vs. efficiency
 17.3 Techniques on the climb
 17.4 Recovering from errors


We don’t have to be friends after the climb,
we just need to pull together for this one common goal!
– Phil Ershler,
expedition climbing leader, settling a bitter dispute on Everest in 1983
18. Team building techniques on and off the mountain
 18.1 Team selection
 18.2 Pre-trip decision making
 18.3 On-trip decision making
 18.4 Team bonding techniques
 18.5 Dealing with disagreements
 18.6 Team leadership


What? We have to pay duty on our shipment?
– Gerry Roach
trying to get his Mount Logan expedition food from the customs warehouse
in Whitehorse Yukon, 1973 - from Ride the Breath
19. Travel to the mountain
 19.1 Air travel
 19.2 Land travel
 19.3 Dealing with cities
 19.4 Dealing with different cultures
 19.5 Approaching the mountain


Camp 2, this is Camp 4. Hey! The stoves that were supposed to be here are gone!
– Gerry Roach on the radio during his Everest summit bid in 1976
20. Logistics on the mountain
 20.1 Organizing a base camp
 20.2 Selecting mountain camps
 20.3 Projecting equipment needs
 20.4 Projecting food requirements
 20.5 Moving supplies up the mountain
 20.6 Moving people up the mountain
 20.7 Dealing with storms and losses
 20.8 Climbing leadership


Here is how my program works:

As a first step, please fill out the questionnaire below, and send it to me via email at Our email address, or by regular mail to
Gerry Roach, 1317 S. Mesa Ave., Montrose, CO 81401.
After reviewing this information, I will communicate with you so that each of us can determine if one of my coaching programs is right for you. I will only accept you as a client if I feel that I can help you achieve your dreams and goals. There is no fee for this initial consultation. After I agree to coach you, then I will set up your custom program according to the following terms and choices. The choices I offer will help you be involved in your own program customization.
  1. My minimum coaching term is 12 weeks (3 months), but an initial term can also be 24 weeks (6 months) or 52 weeks (12 months). These terms can all be extended.

  2. For each term, you can choose up to 10 Empowerments from the above list.

  3. I will set up your custom program, discuss it with you, and fine-tune it to best suit your needs. Your goal may be as simple as climbing a Colorado Fourteener, or as complex as doing the Seven Summits. Your program might be as simple as my offering advice on your existing workout program, or it might be as complex as a new physical lifestyle. Our initial conversations are included in the program-setup phase.

  4. After you embark on your program, I will be available for periodic verification communications. At each verification, I will need a status report from you, and will respond with ideas and advice.

  5. My preferred method of communication is by email.

  6. At the end of each term, or prior to your heading out on your adventure, there will be a wrap-up communication to put the finishing touches on your training, and to review events that will occur on your trip, during which time I most likely not be able to communicate with you directly.

My Fees:

  • $500 for program set up
  • $50 per verification

What others are saying about Coach Roach

Early in 2010, I planned to join a myriad of others who had gone before me and attempt to climb my first Fourteener. I knew that mountain climbing involved certain risks and could be a dangerous activity. My state of Colorado witnesses several climbing fatalities each year, and I was not interested in becoming a statistic, so I gave careful thought to planning and preparing for this journey.

The first thing I considered in my planning was to find someone who could assist me in my venture. I knew nothing about climbing a mountain and I needed someone who ‘had been there, done that.’ I searched the internet and initially found a good book to read called Colorado’s Fourteeners – From Hikes to Climbs by Gerry Roach. After perusing the book, I found Gerry’s website and signed up for his personal coaching. I was extremely impressed with his quick response. Coach Roach quickly developed a plan specifically for my goals. He worked through about six of his Empowerments during the course of my training which he conformed to the areas of my greatest weaknesses and challenges. His inspiration and direction encouraged me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

One of the most profound things I took away from this experience was the opportunity to ponder life and what it meant to me. When life presents itself with mountainous challenges – I learned from God’s Word that there is no better time than the present to make our ascent. As we reach the summit of our ‘mountain’ and experience victory – we become a walking, talking, everyday testimony of what an extraordinary God can do in the life of ordinary people. For me, this was and is my ultimate goal in life.

Here are a few of my simple steps Coach Roach helped me with to ready myself to climb my mountain:
  • Give Careful Thought to Your Ways – Turn ‘poor judgments’ into good ones.
    Coach directed me in diet and exercise.
  • Be Strong – Turn ‘inadequate physical conditioning’ into a renewed commitment to work hard. Coach encouraged and taught on the special techniques of hiking, striding, pacing, ascending, and descending.
  • Do Not Fear – Turn ‘improper equipment’ into the right tools.
    Coach’s instruction on the use of walking poles, and going over my equipment needed for the climb was invaluable.
Thank you Coach for giving me the gift of confidence that helped me reach the summit and experience the victory I was searching for.

— Sara Rainey – Colorado Springs, Colorado

June 9, 2010 – Sara Rainey on top of a peak during a Coach Roach training hike

June 25, 2010 – Victory!
Sara Rainey (right) with her friend on top of Pikes Peak after their ascent from Manitou Springs
In 2002, Gerry Roach, aka Coach Roach, invited me to accompany him on a trip to Tanzania. I was going to fulfill a childhood dream of seeing the big African animals, and Gerry was fulfilling a promise he’d made to me in 1984. “First we climb. Then we’ll see the animals,” said Gerry. Specifically, we would climb 14,980-foot Mt. Meru and 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro.

Yikes! I had seven weeks to prepare and had never even climbed a Colorado Fourteener! I was a 44 year-old skier and golfer. My mind raced – start climbing and get geared. With Gerry’s help, I climbed every free moment I had and acquired the necessary gear (I didn’t even own a sleeping bag). Early on, my mantra became, “Eat what Gerry eats, sleep when Gerry sleeps, and climb when Gerry climbs.” Following world-class climbers was at first intimidating, but with Gerry’s support and encouragement, I quickly found my own pace and managed my own abilities. On Kilimanjaro, hunkered down in a fierce storm at 17,000 feet, I had the single-most clarifying moment of solitude I’d ever experienced. It’s still with me today.

Summiting Kilimanjaro felt triumphant, and changed the way I view life’s obstacles. I am grateful to Gerry for presenting me with this challenge and being my friend and guide. Thank you, Gerry.

— Valerie Cook – Boulder, Colorado

6:30 am October 9, 2002 – An exuberant Valerie Cook arrives at Kilimanjaro’s ice after climbing the challenging “Whiskey Route”

8:30 am October 9, 2002 – Victory!
Julian, Valerie, Coach Roach, and Jennifer Roach on top of 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro
Copyright © 2001-2023 by Gerry Roach. All Rights Reserved.
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