Having made the decision to go for the seven summits in Oct '16, I have 6 months to train for the first mountain. Definitely not impossible, definitely not easy.
Over the last 4 years, cardio training has been avoided, I mean replaced, with weight training given that running outside in Middle Eastern summers is almost as painful to me as running on a treadmill. Cross-fit and general weight training have been my staple exercise and this will be a valuable base for carrying a heavy pack for weeks at a time on a mountain, however a grueling plan of cardio specific training is crucial to build the endurance needed for success.
So I've returned the 45 lb plates and weight belts to the gym junkies and adopted a 6 day a week cardio and 2 day a week core/strength plan. I have found a coach, with extensive mountaineering experience and he has given me a program that will no doubt involve hundreds of hours on a treadmill, a stairmaster, a bike and plenty of just plain old jogging.
One of the biggest challenges I face will be the limited rest periods between mountains. A year to climb 8 mountains seems like a lot however most trips are planned less than 2 weeks apart. Remarkably mountain climbing reduces your fitness (due to the bodies deterioration while exerting yourself at high altitude) and so rest, recovery and rebuilding my fitness within the space of a few weeks will be tough.
Given that climbing mountains requires far more than fitness and good intentions, I will complete an expedition climbing course in New Zealand to refresh the many technical skills that I have almost certainly forgotten over the last few years.
I have elected to attempt two additional mountains outside the Seven Summits to improve my preparation and better understand the challenge of operating in a cold high altitude environment. I will attempt Mera Peak in Nepal ahead of Denali to gain exposure to an altitude of >6000m, to practice some technical climbing skills as well as simply to practice being on a mountain. I will also attempt Cho Oyu in Nepal as a formidable extreme high altitude peak ahead of Everest. As the worlds 6th highest mountain, this will give me the best indication yet on my body's ability to operate at >8000m.
Fully appreciating that I will likely have only one opportunity to climb each of the mountains, preparation is key. I am aware of the magnitude of my challenge ahead and acknowledge that I may not be successful due to many reasons such as an unexpected reaction to high altitude or the extreme cold as well as many more which I will have to accept at that time. What I won't be so willing to accept is failure through lack of preparation.
So, game on! Hundreds and hundreds of hours of training between now and April when it all begins.