Archive for June, 2017

A Traverse

// June 27th, 2017 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

IMG_0087

Ultra-Runner and Trader Joe’s captain Mike McGinnis at mile 88 of 100 on the West Rim of Zion National Park nearing completion his second Park traverse in 4 days.

A traverse in climbing is a horizontal move from one position to another that allows for continued upward progress along a route or wall where otherwise progress would have stopped – dead end.  A traverse can also be defined as movement along a ridge, a mountain range, or a geographic area, but one thing is required for a traverse and that one thing is to move, leave the security of your position and venture off to the unknown.

Recently I had the opportunity to complete the classic Zion Traverse with my ultra-runner friend Mike McGinnis.  We would start at the West end of this beautiful and amazing national park and cross the 50 miles of its rugged rims and canyons on foot carrying the bare minimum of what we would need to survive and pop out on the east end

with 13,300′ of elevation gain and loss along the way.  My intent was to run as much of this as possible, but at a relaxed two day pace so as to enjoy as much of the park as we could.  Well the plan changed when a sinus infection took hold of my airways, lungs, and balance and threatened to steal the experience away from me all together.  I had a choice: lay in bed at home and feel miserable, or move, go, traverse.  It may be slow, but at least I will blow snot rockets and feel miserable in one of the world’s most beautiful places.  So armed with shot blocks, salt tabs, and a handful of NyQuil/DayQuil tabs to the traverse we would go.

Making this decision to move opened my eyes to other traverses we make in life.  Career, family, community, pretty much any aspect of our lives could be in need of a change of direction, and one thing that is certain is that it will have its obstacles and challenges, its ups and downs and its unknowns.  Circumstances can keep us from moving, the way we feel, fear, laziness and the list goes on.  Changing direction and going from one place to another will not be easy.  So “suck it it up” I tell myself all watery eyed and sneezy, keep moving one step at a time and with a little help it can be done.  A traverse, just like life, is a journey and it may not always unfold the way we envision as the route may change, the style, and unexpected joy and trial.

Instead of running we speed hiked, instead of staring at the ground ahead we took in the view around, instead of blazing by others we made conversation and new friends.

We finished the traverse, it broke me down and it made me stronger, it opened my eyes and demanded I walk by faith, I learned new things and even now as I grow older I can say I grew.

Is it time for you to take on a traverse?

 

Everest 2017

// June 6th, 2017 // No Comments » // Climbing

Erik Weihenmayer climbs the Hillary Step

Blind climber – Erik Weihenmayer climbs the Hillary Step

The climbing season on Everest this year unfolded with amazing climbs of inspiration and also of loss.  Alpinists accomplished heroic feats using strength and skill, while heroes possessing untold strength and skill were lost to it’s unforgiving and cold indifference.  Many state that even the mountain itself has been changed, that a place of legend and lore, the Hillary step, has been shaken loose from it’s lofty place on the mountain and in history.  Looking back on my climb of Everest years ago, I am still thankful for the dedicated team that put themselves second time and time again to see that others succeeded and were taken care of.  It was a climb for the ages that inspired many towards their own Everest-like goals and achievements.

This year I am again inspired by the likes of Kilian Jornet and his record setting oxygen-less speed ascent, Andy Holzer and the second blind ascent (first on the North side), Charley Mace my old teammate going back after having been rocked by the earthquake in 2015, and even a man with hemophilia – Chris Bombardier – who dared to go in spite of the many sharp objects that could mean disaster at altitude.

I take joy in these inspiring accomplishments of others and at the same time am saddened by the loss of life.  Seven people were confirmed to have died on the mountain this year, and among them was superstar alpinist Ueli Steck.  My prayers go out to the friends and families who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

With many summits this year, new records, and surprising losses, Everest remains a fascinating and dangerous place that still grabs the world’s attention and the dreams of those who long to stand on top of the world.