We drove four hours from Whitehorse to one of my favourite fishing lakes, then an hour and a half across. As a sheep hunter that’s all the info we give on our hunting spots.

If you know where that is, you know the Yukon better than I do.

Looking up the side of the mountain I had flashbacks of the year prior when we tried the same place. I remembered burning muscles, cramps and frequent stops to catch our breath.

Leaving the lake and heading through the trees is usually fairly easy, the trees are spread out and the incline isn’t terrible, but when you hit the subalpine, that’s when you find out what kind of shape you’re in.

You’re either in sheep shape, or you’re not.

Walking through knee high brush with dips and crevasses large enough to swallow your leg, all the while slipping over rocks hidden beneath a thin layer of moss is the most challenging part about hiking the mountains.

When you finally get to the alpine you get to deal with a whole new challenge: steep inclines, loose shale and boulders that can be tough to navigate. Climbing mountains is no easy feat, but last year I found a way to prepare.

Ryan MacGillivray designed a program for mountain adventurers called Wicked Ram Fitness.

Anyone who has spent time in the mountains can appreciate that the better you train, the less likely you are to get hurt. It is more enjoyable when you are not taking ibuprofen every three hours. Hence, Wicked Ram’s slogan “Train for the mountain, or be trained by the mountain.”

In 2015 we returned to the same spot as our previous hunting season, the difference was a Wicked Ram fitness regime. We set up camp in a bowl at about 5,000 feet. Some prefer to hunt from the top so you don’t have to go up and down each day; others like to glass from the bottom then pursue what the see.

After a couple of days of wandering the area we decided to move to another location further back. There was a spot a few kilometres away that we knew of from our last trip in. The final push to a 6,500 foot ridge took less than half the time it did the year prior. I believe it was from our conditioning.

This year Wicked Ram has more classes to offer for those that would like to work their way into their mountain adventures or ease back into exercising.

In May there will be two classes per week for 40 minutes. The initial classes in May focus on slowly building routine and stretching for flexibility while working toward the harder month of June.

The next month will step up to three sessions per week for 50 minutes. As you work your way through June the focus will shift to strength, conditioning and more flexibility training.

With the final push into July there will be four sessions per week for 60 minutes. Those that would like to start in July can expect to play catch up for the first week. The final month will push hard with the flexibility and strength you have already developed and continue to improve your conditioning.

Some people prefer not to go to the gym, have trouble getting started or maintaining their workout schedule. With the early evening sessions you will be able to get off work, head to the field and unwind from your day. Removing the stress, working towards an easier adventure and energizing you for the night to come.

When we reached the summit with fully loaded packs I was surprised how well I felt. This year is already gearing up to be a great summer.

Don’t waste your once-in-a-lifetime trip being sore and complaining. Whether you are hiking the Chilkoot, pursuing sheep, or just like to spend time in the hills, Wicked Ram Fitness can help you get there pain free.

For more information about this training program contact Ryan MacGillivray at 867-336-0007.