Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27th, 2014: One week after starting over, all cylinders firing

Greetings.  I began anew and things couldn't be better.  The world cup, Sopranos and various work projects kept me occupied as I trained for over 22 hours since I posted last Wednesday.  I finally feel normal.  Kathy and I are sleeping soundly at 9,000 feet and roasting as usual.  My appetite finally came back.  No aches or pains to speak of now.  Again, all is well.  Here are a few updates from the past week.

1.  No climbing in the Pacific NW this year:  Our summer climb in Oregon/Washington conflicted with my son's freshman football training so something had to go.  We figured he only had one shot at freshman (HS) football so that objective took priority over a climb that will always be there - well beyond our years.  So, we will stay at home for the month of August.  I was a little bummed but would gladly compromise my interests for my son's athletic interests.  While I will not be climbing, I do intend to simulate altitude and climbing stress until December.

2.  Hypoxico training for our Aconcagua team:  I plan to climb with my family and two friends - at least - in Argentina this December/January.  Sam and Brendan will accompany us down south and all five of us plan on training with Hypoxico units.  Our aim is to climb light and fast up the hill by pre-acclimatizing at our respective homes.  The international team (Sam from the UK, Brendan originally from the US but living in Japan, and the three of us from the US) plans to press for the summit in short order.  How short?  I figure 5-7 days ought to suffice if we all acclimatize to 20,000 feet for at least 2 weeks before our departures.  Brian Oestrike offered some trip itineraries and such to assist in our success.  I think we can do it; Brian thinks we can do it.  Plus, the Aconcagua climb will be a great proving ground for Everest 2015 and our plans to skip the trek to EBC.  Stay tuned for more details on those plans.  For those who want to learn more about Brian and his background, check out an interview with him:

3.  Caffeine free and eating (semi-)healthy:  My typical day started with about 2 liters of fresh brewed black tea.  I slowly became dependent on the stuff and suffered greatly when I could not get my morning jolt of caffeine.  Well, those days are done.  I slowly weaned myself off caffeine and enjoy a cup every now and then; no more 2 liter mornings.  Before I leave for Argentina and Nepal, I may start up drinking a little more just to get accustomed to tea on the mountains.  Nothing better than a hot cup o' tea on a cold mountain.  As far as eating, I am off the beer and chip diet.  I still have a icy cold malt beverage when I feel the pangs - usually on Friday evenings - but I am not making it a daily habit.  The weight I lost in Nepal is finally back on (plus a few extra pounds) and I can finally start focusing on eating well and training diligently for my climbs.

4.  Sleeping at 9,000 feet, training at 10,000 feet, working at sea-level:  How cool is that?  I live at 320 feet above sea level (100 meters for those of you who were fortunate enough to avoid our crazy English legacy system).  I am sleeping at the peak of Half Dome (Yosemite Nat'l Park, CA, USA) and training at the peak of the Middle Sister (OR, USA).  Eventually, I plant to sleep and train at 20,000 feet (5,500 m) that is roughly the equivalent of Denali (Alaska, USA).  Brian characterized my training regime for Everest as "aggressive" but he said it sounded like I was on top of all the relevant variables.  I agree.  I measure everything and leave nothing to chance.  Soon, I hope to have a good calibration of time to acclimatize - for myself - for every rise in altitude.  Those measurements and analyses come after Aconcagua.  For now, I train high, sleep high, and live low.  The better I acclimatize at home, the safer my climb and the shorter my time away from home.  
In summary, I feel great.  Nothing to worry about whatsoever.  Work is humming along without any stress.  What can I say, life is great!

ONE LAST ANNOUNCEMENT:  I want to take a moment to alert you all to Alan Arnette's K2 expedition.  You can find his blog at  He left a day or so ago and needs all the support he can get from climbers and non-climbers alike.  If you have not read his blog, I strongly encourage you to do so.  K2 is no trivial hill; it offers a real challenge to even the most experienced alpinist.  Alan plans to update us on his position using his Spot locator - the same one I had on Everest this year.  Please follow his climb and consider donating to his cause to support Alzheimer's research and treatment.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  Climb on Alan!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Today, June 18th, 2014, I begin again....a fresh start

I posted 9 days ago about starting over and getting ready for Everest 2015.  Well, things didn't go well from that week forward.  First, I missed 2 swim practices due to an aching shoulder.  That first week was followed by more missed swim practices and a few missed runs and then a complete collapse in my workout routine.  My third week began with more rest to recover from my rest.  Sheesh!  When will the rest end?  Why the bad start?  Well, I have several reasons/excuses/rationalizations for the lapse.  Here they are:

1.  Work stress:  I had some lingering stress from my time off.  Work and colleague stress came to a peak upon my return and I had too many uncomfortable things to deal with.  Today, I dealt with the final one - not that today's event is over but I did what I needed to do to move forward.  I sent off those uncomfortable email messages to my colleagues to resolve our differences; I worked diligently to eliminate all email in my inbox; and I cleaned off my desk to signify a new beginning.  I feel completely liberated and plan to sleep well tonight.  Work stress hits me hard and it seems as if academia gets more and more stressful the longer I stay in the game.  I think I need to get away more often....

2.  House stress:  My stress was compounded by too many house projects that needed my attention (or money) and with money lacking after my failed Everest bid, I chose to spend my time.  Plumbing, electrical, framing, and drywall work brought me back to my construction days on Martha's Vineyard.  If it were not for my understanding wife and supportive cousin (who helped me out on three grueling days), I would not be at peace with my current house project list.  "The only shoeless children are the cobbler's kids" is one of my favorite quotes but not one of Kathy's favorites.  We always live in a house partially (95% or p < 0.05) finished.  Thanks to both Kathy and Kevin for being understanding and lending a helping hand.  For those interested, you can check out my web album that shows all the stuff I am doing to my house.  

3.  Poor diet:  All the stress and increase work demands lead to a really poor diet.  Hey, I accept the blame and acknowledge I will take any opportunity to live on potato chips and beer.  I ate when I could and whatever I could manage at the time. In short, I was eating garbage at home (chips, beer, and toast) and never really did much to change those bad habits.  Now that I am fat and in a good place to change my diet, I intend to move forward by decreasing my alcohol intake and eating more healthy foods at home.  Today, I started with tea and peanut butter on cinnamon roll bread.  Yeah, not a good start but maybe tonight will be better.

4.  Post-expedition irritation and stress:  If I thought Everest 2014 planning presenting difficulties, I had no clue how what 2015 had in store - at least not until this point.  We still have no confirmation about our climbing permit situation.  The costs may be the same as last year meaning I need to find a way to make a ton of money and spend none of it this year.  Not sure how I am going to swing that but I plan to give it my best shot without affecting my family.  Money is always an issue for these climbs and I intend to do it like I did it before.  I will accept whatever people are willing to donate and give them as much access as I can muster.  Any suggestions other than selling blood/plasma are welcomed.

5.  Poor sleep:  I can fall asleep but just couldn't stay asleep.  Never in my life - save for my last few weeks before leaving for Everest 2014 in the hot hypoxic tent at 20,000 feet -  have I struggled to sleep.  Exercise tires me out and I usually sleep like a baby or more like a rock.  Some days I would sleep for 12 hours followed by a 2 hour sleep night.  Here, check out the graph just so you can see:

The dotted horizontal line indicates my preferred 8-hours of sleep.  Not much sleep going on here and rarely was it 8 hours over the past month.  Those erratic and unpredictable sleep patterns wore me out - leading me to....

6.  Getting sick:  Kathy and I are fond of the quote "sick and tired of getting sick and tired."  Well, I'm there.  I was more sick than healthy since I returned from Nepal.  The stress, diet, and sleep problems all lead to my health problems.    I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.  

7.  Getting over a failed expedition:  Everest 2014 didn't end for me right away.  There were too many things that lingered.  I still have no clue about what will happen with our permits, oxygen bottles, or even the funds that were to pay for services not rendered.  I just don't know.  For now, I plan to plow straight ahead and deal with the setbacks when they arrive rather than sit wondering when/if they will come.  

Today is the start of a new effort to prepare for Everest 2015.  I plan to address each one of these and slowly turn my efforts into something more positive.  As a good, first gesture, I shaved:

Here we go....

Monday, June 9, 2014

Back on the horse! First post for Everest 2015 (6/9/2014)

Greetings and welcome to my first Everest 2015 update.  I just finished my first week of training and, after reviewing my previous posts, I decided to offer more descriptive and narrative material rather than data.  For those who like the data, feel free to send me a comment and I will post two types - the narrative format and the graphical displays.  Here are a few updates from the prior few weeks.

1.  With one full week down and two "Summit Sundays" under my belt, I am feeling pretty good.  The past few weeks of eating and drinking left me feeling pretty fat and bloated (175 lbs now!!).  I know all the extra weight will go away and in April 2015 I will long to be back to my current weight but I want to get lean and fit now.  The partying will slowly be replaced by climbing and exercise.

2.  I am fully committed to return to Nepal in 2015 but there are many factors that need to be sorted out before I know how and when I go.  Several great posts from knowledgeable sources indicated that the permit fees and other associated costs are not guaranteed - far from it.  In fact, there are some people who think the Nepal government may rescind their offer to honor our permits.  If that indeed happens, I may re-evaluate my climbing objective and consider only climbing from the Tibet side.  Readers interested in other opinions ought to consult Russell Brice's "Daily Moraine" newsletter along with Alan Arnette and Mark Horrell's blogs.  Each of these writers have slightly different perspectives but they all converge on an important point - we all remain unsure about next year.

3.  Despite my uncertainty about Nepal, I have firm plans already for my next two climbs.  First, in August, I intend to climb Rainier and several other Cascade volcanoes with my son and wife.  Not sure how much vacation time Kathy (my wife) will want to devote to climbing but I suspect a few days should whet her appetite.  My son is excited about climbing so he and I will go out for about 10 days of backcountry adventures.  One thing I would like to do is to traverse the Three Sisters in Bend in a single push.  Patrick (my son) may not want to do that so I may leave him in Portland.  Second, I plan to climb in Argentina for at least a month.  My plans are to fly out to Mendoza in early December - as soon as my semester ends - and prepare meals and such for two expeditions on Aconcagua or other nearby mountains.  The first expedition will be up the Polish Traverse and the second will be the normal route with my family.  If time permits, I would like to take in a few other climbs around the area.  Should be a fun few months of climbing.

4.  My plans to climb in Nepal include some others who I met in April.  Sam Chappatte and Alex Schneider - my two friends I met during my last outing to Nepal - will be great fun to climb with next year.  Sam may join me in Argentina if his work and vacation schedule allow.  We await any news about the Everest permit situation because that dictates what our options are for next year.  Our aim is to climb together and improve upon a few minor things we felt could interfere with our success on Everest.  More on those details later...

5.  In terms of training, I learned a ton from my previous year's preparation.  This time around, I intend to focus more on acclimatization and less on fitness.  I was fit for sure but I could have been in better shape for 20,000 feet.  My intent is to start at 8,000 feet and move up three times - August, December, and May.  I figure if I can train and sleep at 20,000 feet (6,100 meters), I will have no problems getting up the hill and skipping the trek into basecamp.  Sam, Alex, and I intend to fly into basecamp (EBC) next year so the acclimatization portion of our training will prove to be far more important compared to if we opted to trek into EBC.

That is it for now.  I hope you all enjoy the updates.