Sunday, January 10, 2016

In 2015, no-one succeeded in climbing to the top of Mount Everest

In another one of my 'influential moments' that I have from time to time, I spent a chunk of time today reading a story about a rich guy (probably a merchant banker, or something that rhymes with it ["wanker" for those not familiar with the English vernacular]) who is about my height and weighs 210 lbs. By his own admission he is out of shape. Apparently, he just paid some company $15,000 to take him to Mount Everest in May so that he can climb it, having absolutely NO previous mountain climbing experience. All the comments from other people are, like, "don't do it. You're going to die!", or "don't do it, you're going to cause other people to die" when they have to rescue him.

My interest was piqued by the Mental Floss story that in 2015, for the first time since 1974, no-one succeeded in climbing to the top of Mount Everest ( Wow! Knowing how popular that has become recently, I couldn't believe it, but they had a bad earthquake there in April and another one in May. Since then, only one man attempted to reach the summit, and he "missed it by that much" to quote Maxwell Smart (well, this young Japanese guy missed it by 700 meters).

So, reading all the other comments about the out of shape guy's death wish made me think about my own recently published list of ambitious projects ( Unwittingly, I may have planned things so that the order makes perfect sense. Working towards being able to hike 100 miles in seven days will help build up my strength and help me lose weight.

Afterwards, and assuming the weight loss continues, I'll train towards a long bicycle ride, which will help with endurance conditioning and improving my cardiovascular fitness. I did decide that it would be more sensible to go from Portland to Helena, rather than the other way round. That way, the 'finish line' will be my home town, and I won't have a day or two of travelling back to do before I can celebrate or relax. It's also going to be a great psychological boost to see Helena from the top of McDonald Pass, and the final 18 miles will be aided by the thought of being home soon. My quick back-of-an-envelope calculation says that I should be able to do the 700 miles at an average of 10 miles per hour (including breaks) in 70 hours, and that six hours per day would make about 11½ days, plus a couple of rest days along the way. I should be able to do the whole thing in two weeks.

Then I had a bright idea! Just as my daughter is going to be with me to do the PCT hike in May of this year, why can't I find someone to accompany me on the bike ride next year - and do it on a tandem? Yeah! I really like that idea. And, as I'm writing this just now, it occurred to me that it doesn't even have to be the same person accompanying me at the end as at the beginning. I could have two companions, in case one can't get more than a week off work at a time.

Then I thought about some of the things I'd need to be doing before climbing Mount Hood. I'd need to be able to carry a 40 lb backpack for several hours a day (check!) I'd need to have experience of substantially ascending and descending roads/paths (by then, check!) I will need to have built up my cardiovascular endurance, my muscular strength and my flexibility. Hiking steep outdoor trails with a weighted pack will be important, as will practicing on a few smaller and easier climbs (Mount Rainier, perhaps). There's no problem finding small mountains in and around western Montana, or in Washington or Oregon.

I have a plan now to start doing some weight/resistance training at home. It starts off very easily, and will build up in time and intensity as my strength increases. Eventually, I will make a short video of some of those exercises, so that other people can watch and learn, and maybe be inspired.

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