Click for more pictures
It has been an exceptionally hectic start to the new year, but all is progressing as hoped so I certainly have no complaints. It is exactly 60 days from today that I will arrive in Kathmandu with my teammates to start this epic, 3-mountain adventure. It is hard to believe how quickly the departure date will be upon us. This is the pre-expedition anticipatory time where we spread out all of our gear, check everything, then double-check it, contemplate what we’re missing, fill-in any gaps, do the Dr check-ups, get loaded-up on prescriptions for the foreseeable medical challenges that could arise, ramp-up the intensity and frequency of our training, etc. Throw-in spending time with your girlfriend, raising a puppy, launching a new company, connecting with friends and family before departing, and the schedule fills-up fairly quickly. Again, no complaints though.
Upon arriving back in CO after spending Christmas with the family in Charleston, SC, Ben and I headed into the hills just before New Year’s for a particularly frigid ski ascent of Colorado Mines Peak (12,497′). It was so blustery that the frozen spot on my nose (the same spot I froze on Everest in 2012) turned a nice, solid white again. Fortunately, Ben noticed and I was able to protect it to prevent any permanent damage, but it appears that this spot will require monitoring in blustery conditions from now on. We followed that outing with a solid and spirited New Year’s Eve celebration at his mountain chalet in Heeney with a terrific group of people. It was a special way to ring in yet another year.
Soon thereafter, I was fortunate enough to get out with my entire Himalayan climbing team for an outing on Mt. Epworth (11,843′) deep in the James Peak Wilderness Area in CO. Willie came out and joined Mike, Matt, and me for several ski laps on the peak where we found great snow. The avalanche conditions have been sketchy out here as of late, so we picked some safe ridge lines and stayed away from the avalanche-prone faces and couloirs and had a great time on an absolutely bluebird day. I also attended the big Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City with the climbing team, thanks to Mike & Matt, where we formalized some details with our gear sponsors and attended a National Geographic celebration of their current and past Adventurers of the Year winners, where Matt was honored. Things are coming together nicely for the trip and it was great to spend more time together as a team.
Otherwise, I’ve been getting out with the pup fairly regularly for longer outings when time allows and sticking pretty closely to the daily training regimen that served me well last time around, although I’m keeping more weight on my bones for the sheer endurance we’re going to need to get up all 3 mountains. Those extra reserves should serve me well and, let’s face it, it’s been fun putting on some extra pounds.
To round-out my training, I am moving to the mountains, near Winter Park, CO, for the month of March so that I can sleep at ~9,000′ every night and ski up to 12,000′-13,000′ on nearly a daily basis. This should accelerate my pre-acclimatization and get my lungs and legs ready for the challenges ahead. Once we arrive in Kathmandu, we will cross the border into Tibet to get to Cho Oyu base camp (15,000’+) as quickly and safely as possible, so any and all of this pre-acclimatization work should serve me well.
I’m off to see my entire family in frigid Minneapolis this weekend (from frigid Denver – we’ve both been well below 0 as of late), which should serve as some good, cold weather conditioning! Special thanks to my parents for leaving the balmy 80 degree days of Charleston to brave the arctic cold of Minnesota. I am certainly grateful for having such a supportive and close-knit family.