Posts tagged climbing
Expedition: Batian North Face (Mt. Kenya)

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Next week I’m off to Kenya where I’ll attempt to climb Batian via the North Face route. Mt. Kenya, the second-highest mountain in Africa, stands at 17,057 ft (5,199m) at it’s highest point, Batian. This will be my first time back in the hills since Everest season, and my excitement is at an all-time high! 

Although Mt. Kenya is much lower than Everest, climbing to the true summit is far more technical. The total climb will last seven days trailhead to trailhead allowing me just enough time to acclimate and wait for an optimal summit window. Summit day is a 12-16 hour slog involving 20+ pitches (up to 5.9) of alpine rock climbing at altitude. To an experienced rock climber, this is nothing, but I am not a rock climber which is precisely why I was attracted to this challenge. I have climbed rock, yes, but while doing so I have been told that I resemble Clark Griswold in the Vegas Vacation Hover Dam scene.

I will be posting audio dispatches along the way, this shall be interesting. 

Navigating failure... Successfully

On May 16th, 2013 at 2:37AM I was one-thousand vertical feet away from achieving my life-long goal.  I could taste it. I had visualized this moment countless times over my two years of training and preparation.  It was summit night on Mt. Everest, and I was in a zen-like state of focus. So focused in fact that I didn’t realize, or wouldn’t admit to myself, that the weather conditions around me had quickly shifted from unfavorable to flat-out dangerous.

The cry of an anguished prayer broke my summit-fever. It was the voice of Kancha, my Nepali climbing partner.  Looking at him, I realized that we had entered a cloud of Rime Ice that was beginning to freeze our oxygen masks and corneas.  With winds gusting to 85mph and the temperature hovering around -30F, it felt like we were strapped to the wing of a 747 aircraft.  And just like that I knew our summit attempt was over.  I was crushed. 

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Moments before my summit push at Camp 4. 

In my four years of high-altitude climbing and guiding I had never once been turned around due to weather.  And to be perfectly honest, the thought of not reaching the summit of Mt. Everest had never crossed my mind.  It was a forgone conclusion, I had put in the work and nothing was going to stop me.  Until it did. 

Dealing with this defeat has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done; far more trying than any day on Mt. Everest.  Now would be a good moment for me to string together a score of motivational cliches telling you  to deny human emotion and push through the pain.  Fortunately for you, thats not what I’m going to do because the fact remains that failure is inevitable and inevitably painful.  If you are truly willing to chase after your dreams, to lay it all on the line, and give it everything you got, you have opened yourself up to the possibility of failure.  And, when it comes, it’s going to hurt. 

Here are five things I’ve found helpful in dealing with disappointment as a result of athletic endeavors or otherwise. 

1. Allow yourself time.

Whether you dropped-out during your first trail race or injured yourself while training, you need to allow yourself time to digest the disappointment.  Allow yourself to feel it.  Sit with it.  Acquaint yourself with disappointment; the evil step-sister of success. 

2. Don’t make any major decisions.

Your not thinking clearly.  You’re questioning everything.  Decisions at this stage in the game will be made from a point of raw emotion and not rational thought. 

3. Take care of your body.

This is the most important step along the way.  Stay away from the extremes.   Don’t try to jump back into a training routine and certainly don’t stop exercising and eating right.  Listen to your body and give it what it needs. 

4. Talk to people.

It can be a dark world listening to your own thoughts day-in and day-out.  Seek out a training partner or climbing buddy and talk about your experience.  You’ll be surprised what you’ll hear yourself say. 

5. Answer the question.

The most beautiful thing about not achieving your goal is that despite everything else you’re always left with a choice; are you going to call it quits or are you going to use the failure as fuel?

It’s never a true failure until you stop trying. 

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Peter Hillary, son of Edmund Hillary, knows a thing or two about disappointment. 

She's in sight
Good morning from the Namche Bazaar, a bustling village in the heart of the Khumbu resting just over 11,000ft.  Cut from the side of a mountain in the shape of a horseshoe, Namche defines the term “sensory overload.” If one stone were to be removed from the meticulously terraced landscape I fear the whole village would slide into the valley below. 

We will spend two days here in Namche, climbing high and sleeping low, allowing our bodies to get the most out of the acclimatization process. Today we hiked 2000ft above Namche where we had a spectacular view of Everest. Needless to say I was pretty fired up; a flurry of high fives later I sat down and the reality of the length of this journey settled-in. 

(Everest center behind Nuptse Ridge)

I’m feeling very strong, healthy, and focused. My appetite has been absolutely ferocious and I’m doing my best to get as many calories down while we’re still down low. Have you ever had a deep-fried snickers bar for post-breakfast dessert? Neither had I.

Click here to learn more about the pack I’ll be using on Everest

Please consider supporting my fundraising efforts for Flying Kites

 

Little hand says it's time to rock'n'roll!

Before we start this party let us get the proverbial “Led” out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n4DM_qbI6I

Aaaah thats better…

As your reading this I’m somewhere over the middle east in a very bad seat on a very nice plane. Although I can’t say for sure, I imagine I’m pretty fired up at the moment, and may or may not be dipping into my expedition snack food. One thing is for certain, I haven’t slept a wink.

Welcome to my Everest 2013 blog! See you in Kathmandu; it’s go time!


A house call from Dr. Mariorenzi

Dr. Louis Mariorenzi, friend, mentor and 2011 Everest summiteer, stopped by this morning for some final words of encouragement. Louis and his wife Priscilla have been an incredible source of support over the past year and for that I’m incredibly grateful! His modesty, generosity, and kind-nature never ceases to amaze me. I’m forever indebted to a mountain worlds away for bringing us together. 

Thank you Louis for all that you’ve done for me and I look forward to exchanging Everest tales over unalloyed libations upon my return! 

Click here to listen to Louis speak about his experience climbing Mt. Everest on NPR




Gear Review: Merrell Mix Master Tuff Mid

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As part of the new Mconnect line Merrell introduced a minimalist hiking shoe. the Mix Master Tuff Mid.

From Merrell,

A little extra ankle support and durability does not equate extra bulk with our Mix Master Tough Mid. This super lightweight minimalist hiking shoe delivers an agile ride with its pared-down profile and 4mm drop for better ground feel. Its reinforced upper’s waterproof membrane keeps feet dry, and the sticky lugs propel you on pavement and packed trails.”

This shoe is a game-changer for me. For years I’ve hiked/trekked/approached in trail-runners simply because I could never justify the extra weight and bulk associated with a hiking boot. These shoes offer all of the benefits of a trail running shoe (lightweight, comfortable) while providing valuable ankle support. When on a long approach like the trek into Everest Base Camp or Aconcagua, one twisted ankle can ruin an entire expedition. This shoe will ensure that you arrive at base camp healthy and ready to climb. It has solved the difficult equation of comfort, functionality, and performance; it wears like a shoe and performs like a boot. 

I’ll be wearing these on my trek into Everest Base Camp in a few weeks. 

Price: $140

Get yourself a pair here.

 

 

Everest Packing List

The final countdown is on. March 25th is rapidly approaching and I’m nervously basking in the anticipation. And because I can’t control time, I’m obsessing over the one thing I can control; preparing. Put it this way, if you saw a list of my Google searches over the past two weeks you’d probably want to hug me and punch me in the face at the same time. However, through my web-search expedition I’ve managed to compile approximately 37 different packing lists. Some say four pairs of “man panties” (underwear), others say five. It’s a real dilemma. Drawing from this binder of packing lists I’ve finally put together a comprehensive list of my own. 

For those interested, here is my official packing list for Everest 2013.

Colorado Training: Week 1

After three weeks in Kenya and Tanzania and a four-day road trip from R.I. to CO I was, strangely enough, dying to get back into a routine. After all Everest is less than two-months away and I’ve got a lot of work do!

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Sunday morning Jason and I headed into Rocky Mountain National Park to scratch around a little and get some altitude. Our goal was to climb “Martha” on Mt. Lady Washington (13,281ft), but we ended up heading up the couloir right before Martha. The route offered three mixed sections including an overhanging choss/chockstone constriction, certainly not a classic but it was good to get a ten-hour day in the hills!

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The rest of the week I spent running, cycling, and training out of ATC and RallySport. This weekend we’re going to head to Leadville to get some running in! Here are a few pictures from the week:

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(Day one at The Alpine Training Center in my “birthday vest”)

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(Nice little run up Green Mt. with my Merrell Mix Master 2s)

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(My set up at RallySport)
Alan Arnette Interview

As part of his Everest 2013 coverage Alan Arnette has been conducting interviews with some of this seasons climbers. Dawes Eddy is a tough act to follow but here is my interview:

http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2013/01/28/everest-2013-interview-with-mike-chambers-flying-kites-on-everest/

What folly to think that anyone climbs Everest for the views, or the thrills, or the bragging rights, or vaguest of all, because it’s there. What’s there is this: the chance to be worthy of your own dreams.
— Nick Heil