Rapid Ascent™ by Alpenglow Expeditions
Rapid Ascent™ is an innovative program that combines hypoxic training with precise logistics and small team sizes in order to reduce the overall prep and time spent away from home, while greatly increasing the chances of summit success.
From airport pick-up to being helicoptered to the mountain, each aspect of the program is designed to give you the highest chance of a successful summit. By design, Rapid Ascent™ clients are well-rested, energized and prepared to move up the mountain quicker, and safer, with reduced risk of on-set illness.
On average, Rapid Ascent™ reduces the expedition time by 30-50%. Whereas a traditional expedition may take up to 3-4 weeks, a Rapid Ascent can be completed in as little as 2 weeks, allowing climbers to pursue their on-mountain dreams, while still maintaining the responsibilities of a busy home life.
Rapid Ascent™ was developed in 2011 by Alpenglow Expeditions founder and CEO Adrian Ballinger, who had the idea after learning of special tents and generators being used to acclimatize endurance athletes. Ballinger started experimenting with the tents and found he was able to acclimatize himself up to 18,000 feet – meaning he could head straight to basecamp with minimal worry of adverse reactions to the altitude. He then launched Rapid Ascent™ with the goal of reducing the overall expedition time, an invaluable innovation for climbers who want to reduce their time on the mountain and increase their chances of reaching the summit.
First Guide Service to Use Hypoxic Training at Scale
Alpenglow Expeditions was the first mountain guide service to create and lead expeditions in the Rapid Ascent™ style. After years of success climbing in Rapid Ascent™ style, Alpenglow offers 10 different Rapid Ascent™ expeditions on mountains such as Aconcagua, Cho Oyu and Mt. Everest
In Partnership with Hypoxico Altitude Training Systems
Alpenglow Expeditions partners with Hypoxico Altitude Training Systems, to provide clients with hypoxic training equipment and programing for their Rapid Ascent ™ expedition. The equipment for hypoxic training consists of an altitude tent and generator system, both included in the cost of any Rapid Ascent™ expedition. The system is shipped directly to your doorstep a few days prior to the beginning of the pre-acclimatization schedule. The day before leaving for the expedition, climbers simply box the system back up and leave it out front of their home or apartment lobby for pick up the next day.
We use the term “pre-acclimatizing” to denote the process of using the Hypoxico tent and generator system at home. Avoiding traditional acclimatization in-country is the specific tactic that allows for a shortened expedition. By removing the time intensive process of in-country acclimatizing, climbers are able to move directly to base camps across the world that are generally above 14,000’/4200m.
We follow a normal climbing schedule that a team would follow once they are acclimatized, but often that acclimatization includes on-mountain rotations. We do not move any faster than other strong teams, however we do have the advantage of feeling fresh, healthy and strong and because of these positive factors we tend to move at a good pace.
Arriving into base camp healthy and acclimatized reduces the risk of getting sick with a gastrointestinal bug or respiratory illness during long treks. You also end up spending fewer nights in a tent prior to your summit push. This in turn means that we’re able to move efficiently up the mountain and feel better doing it.
How Does Pre-acclimatizing Work?
The Hypoxico Altitude Training system is comprised of a generator and a tent. The generator does the heavy lifting and takes oxygen out of the air mixture in the tent by bumping the oxygen molecules out of the air mixture and replacing them with nitrogen molecules. We can breathe nitrogen without any ill effect and the lower level of oxygen mimics what we experience at altitude. Over a period of weeks, 4-weeks, 6-weeks, or 8-weeks depending on the expedition, this effectively clues our bodies to start making the necessary changes to be able to better survive at higher altitudes – what we call acclimatization.
The Hypoxico system allows us to pre-acclimatize at home which is an essential part of our Rapid Ascent™ and Lightning Ascent* strategies for climbing big mountains faster than we used to be able to.
*Lightning Ascent expeditions take the methodologies of Rapid Ascent™ and applies them to high level and highly experienced athletes, reducing the time it takes to climb high altitude peaks by another 20-30%.
8 Hours Per Day Over 4-8 Weeks of Hypoxic Training at Home
The overall length of pre-acclimatization time varies from peak to peak, though climbers are required to spend at least 8 hours in the hypoxic tent each night.
-5000m – 7000m peaks like Cotopaxi and Aconcagua require a 4-week pre-acclimatization period
-Intermediate 8000m peaks like Cho Oyu require a 6-week pre-acclimatization period
-Mt. Everest and more advanced 8000m peaks require an 8-week pre-acclimatization period
The Premier Logistics of Rapid Ascent™
Though, Rapid Ascent doesn’t stop at pre-acclimatization.
Precise Logistics – Our precise trip planning and premier logistics factor in the unexpected—whether it’s a back-up jeep ready to-go in the event of a flat or a direct helicopter ride to base camp—we’re always prepared. Our operations team works around-the-clock to ensure that you have a smooth trip and that everything is ready to go upon your arrival in-country.
Experienced Guides – Your guide’s high level of professional certifications and years of experience with Rapid Ascent™ is of the utmost importance. We hand pick all of our guides based on a combination of professional certification, high altitude experience and of course fun loving personality. We understand that a guide can make or break an expedition, and that’s why we put a high priority on employing the best in the business.
Pinpoint Weather Forecasting – With pinpoint weather forecasting at our fingertips and pre-acclimatization in our back pockets, our expert guides are able to coordinate their team’s movements and take advantage of small weather windows—exponentially increasing the chances of success and shortening the expedition length.
Who Can Do a Rapid Ascent™ Expedition
Rapid Ascent™ is not just for high end athletes or climbers. Anyone with good fitness, some prior experience at altitude and a little discipline at home can reap the benefits of hypoxic training.
At Alpenglow, climbers who have prior experience at altitudes above 16,400’/5000m can join a Rapid Ascent™ expedition. We require prior experience at altitude so that you know what to expect when you are at altitude in the tent. If you do not have this altitude experience, we offer climbing schools in Mexico, Ecuador and Peru, which are all great places to start.
Want to join?
If you’re keen to join one of our expeditions, reach out! We’d love to climb with you and help you achieve the summit of your dreams.