Living the #vanlife, looks idyllic doesnt it? Endless winters and summers climbing some of the most iconic routes in the world, taking in varied cultures and living off-grid. We’d all give up the day job to live this life, right? Perhaps, perhaps not. What many dont see however are the sacrifices and compromises these athletes make in order to make this kind of life a reality. To be a fully committed professional climber you have to put in the hard miles in the gym if the weather isnt co-operative year-round, but how do you do this if you’re constantly waking up in a new location?
We sat down with Angela VanWiemeersch, pioneer of numerous first ascents and Rab athlete, to discuss these conflicting situations.
Q&A and Images by Josh Perez
How long have you been living out of your truck?
I’ve been living more or less out of my truck since 2013, but truly without paying rent anywhere for 10 months.
What do you love most about it? What do you hate most?
I love the total flexibility to be anywhere at any time and to wake up in the most beautiful place. Oh, and 4 wheel drive! I hate not having my cook set up inside my vehicle. I usually cook on my tailgate and when weather is bad I just suffer.
How does it affect your training for bigger trips and projects? How does it help?
For technical rock climbing it seems very difficult to manage training while on the road. Having a climbing gym to gain finger and tension strength is crucial. Good thing I don’t climb too much rock. As far as training for ice and mixed climbing, I can always find a tree just about anywhere: I throw some slings around the branch, throw a carabiner on and hang away. You just have to find unique ways to train.
As far as training for endurance expeditions goes it has been really fruitful lately. Living in my truck gives me the freedom to park high on a forest road (above 10,000 ft), cycle a pass (above 13,000 ft) and then crash out after a good dinner.
I love being able to train in the mountains more than in a gym. Although gyms are great too. I prefer being outside. I also keep a set of weights, an ab roller, a bicycle, a yoga mat and a weight vest in my truck. Combining all of those tools together seems to be doing the trick!
Can you share what a regular day of training looks like these days?
A regular day of training varies if I’m on a cardio day or a strength day. I’ve been riding my road bike usually uphill over 20 miles, but if its not totally uphill I’ll try to make it a 50 mile day. I do this once a week. Once a week I also go on a 10 mile run. I’m trying to make the 13 mile more consistent but my knees hurt!
Every 3 days I do some circuit training of splicing one mile running at high intensity between sets. I also do general exercises …sit ups, pushups, planking, etc….I do ab/core workouts 4 times weekly (they recover fast) and try to climb on the other days depending on where I am. Obviously if I’m getting lots of climbing in I’m not lifting much. Maybe once a week, then I try to rotate cardio and core.
What are some upcoming trips and projects you’re most excited about?
I’m excited to go fat tire bike through Pakistan in July. It will be awesome with a lot of pushing a bike up a glacier, we will see.
I also am planning on heading to China to climb water ice this winter. Very excited to train for that and to climb lots of ice in the months leading up to the trip!
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