Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beautiful views on Bear Peak

Bear Peak, overlooking Boulder, was to be my next mini-objective for the week. I really enjoy hiking Bear Peak and by combining that with a quick jaunt over to South Boulder Peak, I knew that I would get some decent exercise. This climb was to be just another training exercise and a tune up for my main objective next Spring - Mount Everest! Standing at just over 8400' it was not the altitude I was training for this weekend. Colorado has many points higher in elevation. Some that are still accessible even when considering the added logistics necessary for deep winter snow cover. This weekend I wanted to get some descent elevation gain (turns out 3,855') and some descent mileage (7+). I also had to include some added weight to my pack (45 lbs). I increase the weight in my pack by 10 pounds per month until I leave for Everest in March. By March I will have 75 lbs in my pack! No, I don't expect to be carrying a 75 lb pack on Everest but 45 lbs is not out of the question and with the shedding of 30+ lbs from my pack I hope to make my climb up Everest a little less strenuous. I also try to hike in as minimal of clothing as is safely possible. Very light shirt, no hat and no gloves. Of course I am not in -25F but with the temps around freezing and with a stiff wind I am training my body to adapt to and work efficiently in the cold. Hopefully, this will translate into an easier adjustment to the extreme cold found on Everest. Last but not least I decided upon climbing Bear Peak because the trails up and down the Peak are very popular with hikers and runners. No I was not looking for a "social" outing but I was, indeed, looking for the super slick, icy, snow packed conditions the trails would be in from all of the previous foot traffic. Many people use YakTraks or similar cleats which allow better traction when hiking on snow and ice and on Everest I would be in crampons. However, another objective of the day was to work on speed and balance while carring a heavy pack and encountering these conditions.

The whole idea behind my thought process of training for Everest is to try and SAFELY make my training conditions harder than the ones I will encounter on Everest. I can then help cultivate the mental and physical prowess necessary for the great demands of Mount Everest. Who knows if these things will provide an advantage. That will be determined in April and May of 2010.

Of course nothing provides great training like elevation training. Therefore, this weekend I am heading to climb a Colorado 14er, a peak in excess of 14,000' a.s.l. Combine that with a beautiful ski down for cross training and hopefully I will feel the happiness and fatigue that only comes from testing myself in the great outdoors.
BTW - Many thanks go out to Mike Smith for accompanying me on this great outing and for providing the wonderful pictures. I enjoyed the day!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

100 day countdown begins!

Wow! Just 100 days until I leave for Mount Everest. I am so excited, scared, and concerned all at the same time. This attempt upon Mount Everest's lofty summit will be a chance of a lifetime. I am so fortunate and blessed to be able to have this opportunity to live out my dream.
There is still so much to do in preparing for this major expedition. Spiritual, physical, and mental training continue to be the focus because this little sortie to the highest real estate on earth will prove to be a major challenge. How will I do? How will I react? How will I conduct myself when situations really get tough? This all remains to be determined and yet one thing is for sure. The summit of Everest is the gravy on top of the entire experience and obtaining it would be a dream come true. However, more importantly is safety and returning home to my family. As Ed Viesturs, America's most famous high altitude mountaineer, has said, "Getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory."
What a mystery that awaits me. One wrapped in -40 degree temperatures, snow, ice and some of the best views on earth.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Training, training, and more training

Well, this evening I am heading back to the gym for my bi-weekly cardio class. I am taking Combat Calisthenics with a former Marine - Sean Lowe. This class is crazy. Imagine P90X meets Crossfit, meets USMC boot camp! The class is 1 hour long and my heart rate is above 70% the whole time. I have been taking the class for a little over a year now and Sean always mixes things up. No 2 classes are the same.
This class is just a supplement to my regular training, which will increase even more as my 100 day countdown approaches. I am very blessed to live in Colorado and so every weekend, snow or sunshine, I head to the Colorado high country. My goal is to hike to over 13,000' if possible; and over 14,000' being even better. All said and done I also try and gain at least 3,000' in altitude. The cherry on top is that I usually have a 35lb pack on my back. This weight will go up as well as March approaches, eventually topping out at about 50-60 lbs. As well, during the week I try to make 1 ascent of Mount Morrison with a pack on. I start at the bottom of the famous Red Rocks amphitheater and go up over 500 stairs before starting the hike up the mountain proper. This usually gets the lungs burning. In total I gain about 1,700' in altitude. Other weight training, yoga, and stretching will supplement my training at least 1 other day a week, and again this, too, will increase as March approaches.
I am so blessed - I am so excited! Everest 2010 here I come.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Abandoning Everest - the result and future plans

Wow! Our little boy turns 2 today! How fast time flies. A short 2 years and 7 months ago, while attempting to scale Mount Everest, I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child. As a result, my head was no longer in "the game". Several days later I decided to put Everest aside and ensure I would be around for our child's birth. Climbing Everest is dangerous and I did not want to take any chances. The picture above is of Alexander, the result of why I decided to turn around and save Everest for another year, another try at the summit.
Fast forward to right now and the upcoming 2010 Mount Everest climbing season. The desire to scale the lofty heights of Everest still burns deep within me. After much prayer, talking with my wife, and the blessing from my employer, we have decided that 2010 is the perfect time to try and accomplish a goal set 13 years ago.
I have been training hard and as my 100 days 'til departure draws closer I am starting to train even harder. Training this go around is much different than in 2006/2007. This time I am not only focusing on physical training but I am focusing more on mental training as well. Being away from my family will be tough. My favorite Bible verse is Phillipians 4:13 which states that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I rest assured that complete reliance upon God will get me through the tough times - both physical and mental.
Another part of preparing for a Mount Everest expedition are the logistics necessary in order to accomplish such a feat. This time around I am relying on a climbing mate and friend - Phil Crampton. He owns Altitude Junkies and he provides all the logistics necessary for attempting a climb of Everest. Such things as permits, tents, stoves, food, ropes and much more are some of the things he will help provide. I will be responsible for my own personal climbing gear but providing the group gear is where Phil comes in. This will be an unguided climb as we are all competent climbers who have served an apprenticeship on lesser mountains around the world.
Even though I wish I were leaving tomorrow, it is probably best that I am not. There is still so much to do. Please follow along as I chronicle the events leading up to my attempt on Mount Everest in April and May of 2010. I will also be (with the help of my wife) posting "live" updates on this site during the climb so you can keep up to date as to where I am on the mountain. Although, the best coverage of the upcoming 2010 Mount Everest climbing season will be on Alan Arnette's website. He is, by far, the best at seeking out all of the Everest action and condensing it into an exciting format on his website. Go and take a look.
Until next time...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Climber's Dream - revisited

It's amazing how fast time passes. Two years ago today I was on my way to climb Mount Everest. I had just crossed the Nepalese/Chinese border and everything seemed right on schedule.
That is, however, not the case with Everest north side teams today. The Chinese have placed restrictions upon foreigners from entering into their country. The forecast for gaining permission to enter China through Zhangmu is a bit uncertain. The agreed upon date to lift these restrictions is constantly being pushed back. The deadline will arrive and the Chinese will change their minds. This can be frustrating, demoralizing, and utterly devestating. These climbers have put many months of sweat and hard work into training for the mountain of their dreams; only to arrive in Nepal and find out that their climb has been postponed at best and canceled at worst. Wow! That would be hard to deal with. Their dreams may be shattered.
You see, for many a climber Mount Everest represents the pinnacle of climbing achievement. The privilege of standing upon the highest piece of real estate in the world is a feat that few have done. Yes, climbing Mount Everest has become more popular in recent years but the challenge remains the same. Past or present, yesterday or today, there will always be those who push themselves to the edge of endurance. That is part of the allure of climbing Mount Everest.
I often wonder if I have the endurance to climb Mount Everest. Physical endurance yes, with God's help. Mental endurance though, is a little harder for me. Therefore I now rely heavily upon my wife and son at home to cheer me on. This cheering section is what will help propel me up the Big E when my physical endurance is waning.
I have a lot to do if I am to climb Mount Everest in just under one year. Relational, spiritual, financial, professional, physical, and mental challenges all loom hauntingly in front of me. Will I make it? Can I do it? What lies ahead? Please follow along as the next year unfolds.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

About this blog

Welcome to "A Climber's Dream". We all dream. We all dream differently. For 12 years now I have dreamed of climbing Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. God has blessed me in numerous ways throughout life and I have truly been able to travel, climb, and enjoy His creation ... from the top. Just not the top of Mount Everest.

I have been climbing now for almost 13 years and and I am grateful to say that I have tasted the bitterly cold air of 8,000 meters. On September 29, 2005 I stood on the summit of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world at 8,201 meters a.s.l. (26,907'). As I stood there gazing toward Mount Everest, just a mere 25 miles away, I couldn't help but wish I was standing "over there". I resolved that maybe now I had gained enough experience, through a 10 year climbing "apprenticeship", to someday scale to the lofty summit of Mount Everest. The dream persisted and partially came true in the pre-monsoon climbing season of 2007. I traveled to Tibet to scale Mount Everest, or Chomolungma as the Tibetans call her.

I am a Christian and I believe in the truth found within the Bible. I believe the Scriptures when in the book of Isaiah God said, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

You see, my thoughts were of Everest and my ways were of climbing as much and as often as I could. Many times to the detriment of several key relationships. One of those being my wife and her desire to start a family. Whilst on Everest I learned that my wife and I were no longer "just the two of us". We were quickly to be the three of us. My wife was pregnant with our first child and she was thrilled. Suddenly the Mount Everest climb became not as important and I could no longer focus on the task at hand. When scaling Chomolungma, she demands 110% committment. If, even for just a moment, your focus is not on the business of climbing, the icy cold slopes of the highest point on Earth may be your final resting place. Climbing Mount Everest in 2007 was not meant to be.

All of this brings me to the purpose of this blog. The desire to climb Mount Everest still lingers. With intensity! I am prayerfully considering returning to Mount Everest in the pre-monsoon season of 2010. This blog will chronicle the upcoming year. You will meet my wife Diana and our son Alexander. You will follow along as I train for the physical and mental demands of Mount Everest. You too will see the view from many mountain tops through my photographs. Perhaps this will lead you to dream and achieve what was formerly just a passing thought.