Surge for Alpine Climbing

Last alpine season I miss-dialed my nutrition and bonked about half-way through a pitch. Since then I’ve crushed more energy gels (2/hr now) and replaced a bottle of pure water with electrolyte supplement. Does anyone have any experience with Surge during high-output endurance events? Right now if I’m on a grade 4 ascent my diet looks like:

Breakfast: Pancakes or oats (depends if i’m cabin vs tent) w/ protein powder
Depart: cliff bar or two
Pre-climb: Snickers
Climb: 2 gel/hr
Post climb: Snickers
Dinner: whatever

I’ve heard of some athletes using perpetuem, but I’m thinking surge is about the same thing?


Breakfast: Fine
Depart: Finibar or two
Pre-climb: Surge Workout Fuel
Climb: Cut up Finibar (I would gather there is no fuelling stations)
Post climb: Mag-10
Dinner: Balanced meal.

You really need to get rid of the sugar spikes.

What you mentioned is mostly Maltodextrine. Nothing wrong with it, but if yo want to elevate, Surge Workout Fuel is the way to go. Yes, I have done both.

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Awesome thanks for the reply! Cliff bars are gross so I see your point there. I’ll give Surge a run this season and see how it works.

You might also want to check this plan @shralpinist was thinking about using for a climbing marathon. He’s a climber and you might be able to pick his brain if he gets back into posting.

Really interesting post. For alpine it’s a little different than cragging, but between that post and the ultra endurance guy that Shugart helped, I learned a decent amount. For weight purposes, I only really have two nalgene bottles of liquid for the entire day. Stuff freezing is also very possible, so putting crap into water (i.e. electrolyte powder) helps. Finibars cut up may be an ok addition to marathon gel since they shouldn’t freeze up too hard that I couldn’t eat them quickly, but weight per calorie might be sub par to gel.

After reading those posts I think I’ll replace my departure food with a finibar or two with Indigo-3G, have a plazma in the car toward the base of the mountain, slog for 3 hour approach, have a finibar when we’re putting crampons on and racking up, climb however many pitches having some finibar or energy gel at every other belay. As far as my two nalgenes I’m still torn. Maybe one surge and one electrolyte replacement, or maybe two plazma? Most of the day the goal is to burn fat for energy, but climbing 60+ degree steep snow for 1-2k feet and leading ice and mixed pitches burns more carbs than fat due to the elevated HR, so either supplement could have its benefits.

The climbs we are doing this season have super mellow descents (like 6+ miles but all completely walkable) so nutrition after topping out is pretty irrelevant. Likely we will crush large pizzas and drink too much coffee after getting back to the tiny little mountain town nearby. Last year our time was 12hrs car to car due to a gnarly storm that gave us some frostbite, but this year I would like to increase the difficulty and get it in 8 hours (i’ve been working a lot of endurance prior to, other than breaking my leg a few months back pushing a little too hard on a training climb).

Sounds like you’re starting to dial things in a bit. SWF is my favorite supplement for endurance events. I don’t do any alpine climbing (despite my username) but I’ve done my share of all-day trad ascents on rock. I like to hydrate well in advance and bring a bottle of Surge in my one Nalgene bottle that comes up with me. If it’s really hot and I know I’ll want to just chug water up there, I’ll pre-load with Surge and bring water up. I also use Plazma for indoor training sessions but prefer Surge when I’m spending a day outside. Apart from that I just eat as I would normally eat.

I don’t think you should rely on simple sugar rushes, although I know for sure that they are an excellent addition to solid nutrition/supplementation. Sure, they’re not ideal for indoor training sessions (or weightlifting, and remember that’s what people on this site know the most about). But when you’re working that hard in those temperatures it comes down to CALORIES, and it almost doesn’t even matter where they’re coming from. I’ve been known to eat some weird shit just to stay warm on cold days outside…I once used an ice axe to crack an empty mayonnaise container in half and licked the entire inside…and I normally hate mayonnaise.

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