Friday, September 17, 2010

Allison's Rainier Trip Report

Well...we're back and I'm pretty sure my whole body could go for a massage right about now. It was not the greatest weekend to go climb a Mountain, weather wise. We started out on Friday with our gear check and the meet and greet. Climbing school soon followed on Saturday morning with a bit of a fog and cooler weather, though we did stay pretty dry throughout the day. We learned a great deal in a short amount of time and I really felt confident in our skills to go tackle Mt Rainier.

Climbing School Photos

Our hike up to Muir was crappy. It was foggy, raining, sleeting, and snowing. The cloud level was around 9200 feet, so we were in the muck up through part of the Muir Snowfield. It was a long hike, but with the breaks, I felt pretty good upon arrival to Muir.

Hike up to Muir

We got all cozy in the "hut" for a few hours and then had our dinner. I think I was able to get a few hours rest before the guides came to wake us up for our Summit Climb. We were all very excited when we stepped out of the "hut" to find the stars were shinning and the wind was low. That would soon change :(

Roping up to begin our Summit Climb

We headed out of Muir through the Cowlitz Glacier and up to Cathedral Gap. The weather was still cooperating...mostly, and physically I felt great going into our first break on the Ingraham Flats. There were definitely some tricky parts (jumping over a crevasse being one of them). Once we hit the Disappointment Cleaver, things went downhill fast. The winds began and quickly started gusting and the snow/sleet were whipping us in the face. If you have ever been on the Disappointment Cleaver, in the dark, you will understand how much that put a damper on things. The Cleaver is no easy conquest and I kept looking up (directly up I might add) only to see the little lights of headlamps from climbers ahead of us. Physically, it was a challenge. We had to put on our goggles which decreased my visual field dramatically. We ended up at the top of Disappointment Cleaver on our 2nd break only to find out we were going back down. The winds were whipping us from our places on the Cleaver and visibility was only to the feet in front of you. It was a mental and physical challenge for me to get up the Cleaver. I found it extremely hard to negotiate all the rocks and cliffs on such a short rope. I was the only female on my rope team and my leg stride was much shorter than my teammates. A couple of little slips and an issue with my crampons sent my heart rate racing, that's for sure. However, knowing we had to turn around and do it all again without summitting was disappointing to say the least. Physically, by that time I was tired, but if they said we could still go, I would have. We ended up turning around and going back down to Muir at that time.

The hard parts?? Learning to pressure breathe (which definitely helped), that was one of the first things we learned in climbing school. I didn't feel much with the altitude, which I am grateful for. The boots...OH THE BOOTS! my shins are both black and blue and swollen from the boots, not sure why that happened, nothing was bunched and I tied the boots near the ankle and not up to relieve pressure on my shins, but they both just HURT! I was telling the guide on the way back down to Paradise "I feel like I could still run laps, if only I had a pair of sneakers!".

Lessons Learned?? Bring a pair of sneakers for Camp Muir and possibly part of the hike up and down from Muir. Every step was excruciating for me coming back down and I only wished I had a pair of sneakers to make it easier.
We did have some nice weather moments at Camp Muir as it was in between the upper mountains storm and the cloud deck below.

This first photo is the spot we took our second break on the Disappointment Clever, the second photo is me (second in) trying to take it all in.

Myself, husband, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and my brother.

Our RMI guides were FANTASTIC! I cannot say enough about all of them. They were welcoming, extremely knowledgeable and down to earth. I seriously think they made this experience for us. I cannot thank RMI enough for this amazing experience! Being able to rent all our equipment from Whittaker Mountaineering was such a load off of all of us as well. Knowing that all our equipment was waiting for us upon arrival and top of the line, guide recommended equipment was refreshing. Turn in was equally as easy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! It was an unforgettable experience!
Now it's time for bed :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Allison's Ready For Rainier!

OK, this is it, two days until we meet up in Ashford, Wa. I decided to do a bit more relaxing this past week, tying all the loose ends on the packing list, took the kids shopping to get ready for school etc... We spent the last two nights camping on the Pacific Ocean in the Olympic National Park. We were able to drive out to the Hoh Rain Forrest where we took a "kid friendly" hike...OK, maybe more like a stroll. It's hard to keep 5 kids going at the same pace, especially when there are big trees to climb and fish to watch in the Hoh River. I ended up carrying our 2 1/2 year old son for most of it. His weight is about equivalent to our climbing backpacks I would think :) I am reminding myself to breath deeply and just absorb all I can this upcoming weekend. I will have my husband at my side the whole way, hopefully giving me a push every now and then :) Our summit night/day is on Sunday/Monday, so be thinking of us! Will hopefully be able to report back next week with photos!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Anthony is preparing mentally too!

Ok, so I had the best of intentions for hiking this past weekend.  Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out and I missed another opportunity for some pack time.  I’m not going to let it get me down though.  I will put boots on a trail this weekend, for sure.  Given my schedule I have precious few opportunities remaining to be on the trail and I’m starting to feel the pressure.
The gym training has been solid.  I’ve been getting about 4 sessions of intense cardio every week.  Sessions usually last around an hour and the intensity is pretty high (even anaerobic at times).  That combined with 4 sessions of weight training means I’m spending a lot of time in the gym.
I picked up a copy of Mountaineering:  The Freedom of the Hills, by Steven M. Cox and Kris Fulsaas over the weekend.  It seems like a very good source of information and I’ve managed to skim over a good deal of it.  Although, honestly, some of the technical aspects covered are beyond me at this point.  Like Allison mentioned, I too have been pouring over the RMI and Whittaker Mountaineering videos and clips on You Tube.  I especially liked the tour of Camp Muir, by Peter Whittaker and the July 16th summit video with Ed Viesturs and Peter Whittaker.  Both videos were a great introduction to Mt. Rainier and get me excited all over again about the climb.
I still have to sort out the food situation.  At the moment I’m leaning toward just going with a pre-planned meal package.  It definitely seems like the most efficient way to go (for me at least).  I’m sure I’ll supplement with some of my own goodies, but trying to buy, organize and fly with everything I’m going to eat doesn’t seem practical.  Of course, my wife would be the first to tell you that I’m anything but practical.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Camp Muir, Mount Rainier

Tag along as Whittaker Mountaineering owner, Peter Whittaker gives you a quick tour of Camp Muir....

Allison's got two weeks to go!

OK, two weeks to go! Wow, this summer has gone by way too fast! I have started to up my workouts a bit here in the last week and a half. In the beginning of the year, I had completed the P90X workout and then towards April/May timeframe completed Insanity. I have now restarted Insanity daily just to make sure I am getting a bit of cardio mixed with resistance training more regularly. I am still hopping on the Stair Machine at the Y with my 30-35lb backpack for an hour about twice a week. I have had a hard time making the HEAT class at the Y this summer, to my disappointment, the class is from 5:30-6:30 and my daughters summer gymnastics schedule is from 2:30-5:30, so it just hasn't worked out much :( I was able to go this past Wednesday and she had us running laps in the parking lot, lunges up and down the sidewalks and resistance running with a partner pulling against the "reins" of a resistance band around our hips. We then finished the workout off with a tricep/bicep workout with the resistance bands in the grass. LOVE that class when I can make it!

Equipment is rented and flights are all set for my climbing partners.
Getting a bit more nervous, but still really excited to do this. Still love watching all the RMI and Whittaker Mountaineering YouTube videos (I get a kick out of how calm and collected they all are when talking about crevasses and ladders, amazing) and I want to thank Lindsey for her amazing blog following her summit. The more I read, the more prepared I feel and her entry had a lot of great information in it, thank you Lindsey for sharing your experience! One loose knot we still have is food. I read, and forgive me for I can't find the post again, a post on nutrition and what to bring on the climb. Trying to decide whether to go with the pre-planned meal package or just bring my own??
Decisions, decisions...

School starts for four of our five kids the day before our climb.
Perfect timing, get to see them off on their first days and then, with hopes the weather holds out, Grandma and Grandpa can take them outside to look at Mt Rainier while we are climbing and tell them that somewhere on that Mt, Mommy and Daddy are going UP!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"I think my biggest concerns are the unknowns..."

Here is Anthony's latest training blog...

Well, this past week was a little disappointing training wise.  While I managed to hit the gym four days, for cardio and resistance work, I missed my normal weekend hike (bummer).  I’m going to try and make it up with a little longer outing this weekend.  Unfortunately, it won’t be until Sunday due to my work schedule, which means I can’t go over-night like I wanted to (back to work on Monday).
Otherwise, I can’t complain.  My training in the gym has been consistent and I’ve made reasonable gains in both my resistance and cardio work over the past few weeks.  I have noticed that the increased cardio has made weight maintenance more demanding.  I feel like I’m eating pretty big and pretty often in an effort to maintain my weight.  I know, I know, that’s a problem most people would love to have.
As time goes by and my climb approaches, I’m getting a little more anxious (nervous?).  I feel like physically, I’m fairly well prepared (famous last words), but I still have some loose ends with my equipment and personal supplies to tie up.  I know I’ll feel better once everything is taken care of.  I think my biggest concerns are the “unknowns” Like:  How will I handle the altitude?  Will I be able to figure out all the unfamiliar equipment?  Will the weather hold up?  Have I forgotten anything? Etc, etc.  I’m just hoping it’s like they say:  Our greatest fears (anxieties) lie in anticipation…

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lindsay Summits Rainier!

Lindsay & her husband, Marcus on the summit of Rainier!
 Our climbing team made it to the summit on the morning of Wednesday August 4th and couldn’t have had nicer weather.  It was sunny and there was little to no wind...exactly how I like it.  The weather through the four days was very favourable although I did go through quite a lot of sunscreen!
En route to the training area.
  I had some ideas as to what to expect during climbing school, but I couldn’t get over how hot it was when I was completely surrounded by snow.  I was a little nervous going into the school because I was afraid that I would not be able to self arrest myself properly, but it turns out the guides were really good at demonstrating and coaching me through each type of self arrest.  I wish they could have taught me how to avoid getting chunks of snow in my ears and up my nose, though.  Part of the training involved learning how to move as part of a rope team, as well as manoeuvring on snow and rock with crampons.  Having to lean forward and trust that the crampons would dig in and stop my forward motion was a little difficult to get used to, especially on the steeper slopes.  It feels much different than how I would center my body weight when coming down scree or rock.  By far the most fun of the school was sliding down the snow slopes.  Who would have thought you could get up so much speed going down such a small hill!  
Taking a break during school.
 The night before the climb I was pretty anxious.  Climbing school had gone pretty well and I was confident in my skills, but what I still didn’t know was how I was going to handle the altitude.  I kept telling myself that I would be okay because I had previously climbed to a higher altitude, but it was still an unknown.
Climbing up the Muir Snowfield en route to Muir.
 It was calm and very sunny all of the way up to Camp Muir.  On the snow, I found it was difficult for me to stay in rhythm with the rest of the team because their stride lengths were much bigger than mine.  During breaks (every hour for about 15 minutes), I would drink about 500 ml of water and refuel with either an energy bar, dried fruit, or granola bars.  Pita chips were my favourite snack so I saved those for the summit. 
 At Camp Muir I had time to organize my gear for the climb, sip on my water, and eat (dehydrated meal – lasagne and more snacks), before getting into bed at 6 pm.  I had thought about bringing a pair of sandals with me, but at the last second I decided I would forego the weight.  My advice would be to bring them because there is some time at camp where you can just hang around and rest.  It’s nice to do this without big hiking boots and sweaty socks.  If someone forgets to tell you, use the mats to block the windows in the top bunks (not sure why I couldn’t have figured this out myself?).  I think I probably got about 3 hours of decent sleep before our guides brought in the hot water.  I slept in my base layers so it would be easier to get going in the morning as our team only had one hour to pack up our gear, eat (dried fruit and cream of wheat), go to the washroom, and put on our harnesses and crampons. 
Heading up a steeper section.
 When we set out at 1 am, it was dark, but a lot warmer than I had expected.  At our first break, to my surprise, I was shivering the whole time we sat down.  Some of our climbers were deciding to turn around and at one point I thought I may need to as well because of how cold I was, but when we started to move again, my shivering stopped and I was feeling pretty good.  The summit climb ended up being a lot easier for me physically than I had expected.  Mentally, I was waiting for the altitude to hit me, but it didn’t come until we started to descend.  I felt a little light headed, but was surprised that I had not felt nauseous at all during the trip.  Overall, I was very prepared for the challenges of the trip.  Going over the ladder was easier than it sounded, but the jumping of the crevasses was certainly something I would not like to do very often.  One thing I will mention that I found a little difficult on the climb was adjusting to being roped with the team.  I had to force myself to move faster than I usually do, but also I had to be cognisant of the person in front and behind at all times, especially when going up and down the Clever on short ropes.  
Little Tahoma
Lindsay at High Break.
 My favourite part of the climb would have to be sitting at High Break (13,500 ft) and watching the sun come up.  The clouds below were starting to billow up over Lil’ Tacoma and Mount Adams could be seen peaking out of the clouds.  It was such a beautiful sight!  It also meant that it would begin to warm up, so mentally it was a really good pick-me-up before making our final push to the summit.
The whole team on top!
 I am so happy that my husband and I took the time to pack train as much as we did prior to the climb.  If you can do this climb with someone else it certainly saves on the amount of weight you have to carry up the mountain with you (my husband and I shared a lot of stuff rather than bringing duplicate items).  My pack was pretty light compared to what I actually trained with so I found I could handle the weight easily on both days of the climb.  I am sure that the resistance training that I did helped with the ability to carry my gear, but I believe it also played a role in my recovery.  My body didn’t really fatigue as much as I thought it might.  Other than a little tightness in my right calf muscle, I felt like I had just done a regular workout.  I thank our RMI guides and Whittaker Mountaineering for helping make the climb such an enjoyable experience.  Now all that is left is to figure out what peak will be next!  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ed Viesturs: Physical vs. Mental Training

What's more important, physical or mental training?  Whittaker Mountaineering Guide Team member, Ed Viesturs talks about training for mountaineering physically vs. mentally. 

Anthony hits the beach!

Well, I made it back from the beach (had a blast!), so my training schedule was a little short this past week.  I still managed to get in three days at the gym and a short day hike on Saturday.  Unfortunately, I didn’t hold to my diet very well while I was at the beach and I feel a little (just a little) guilty about that.  The pizza, ice cream, French fries, and beer (lots of beer) were the worst of it, but hey, it’s the beach!  Overall, no harm done and I’m back on the plan (or wagon if you like).  I did get in a couple of long walks and a good run, but it was nothing structured so it doesn’t count as training.
The hike on Saturday was good; short, but intense.  The total distance (roundtrip) was only about 6 miles, but we gained over 1700 feet in the last 2 miles with a gnarly rock climb/scramble (steep!) in the final ½ mile or so.  I carried my pack with 55lbs in it and was able to move at a fairly fast pace, but I was huffing pretty hard by the time I reached the top.  The decent through the rock climb/scramble, with the pack on, was a little scary and a good workout in itself.  I was surprised at how much my core had to work to brace and balance the pack.  Good stuff.
My training plan going forward will stay the same for the most part.  I definitely want to get in some longer duration, perhaps overnight or full weekend, hikes in the near future.  It would also be nice to get in a conditioning climb with some altitude, but altitude is hard to come by on the east coast.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Allison Hits the Gym & YouTube

Wow, time is FLYING!!! Just 4 more weeks until our big climb and I am beginning to feel ready...I think. I have been going to the Y several times a week (carrying my big 30lb ruck sack) and stepping on the stair machine for about 60 minutes at the Intense Fat Burner interval level. I follow that with an amazing hour long YOGA class. For more endurance training, I have been trying to run once or twice a week if I can get away from the kids.

I continue to listen to the RMI Training Podcast on Altitude, quite interesting and I would recommend it to anyone planning on doing any activity where altitude is a factor. This past week, however, I have taken to watching a ton of videos on all things climbing related.
Myself, being a novice, I want to soak up as much information about crampons, ice axe use etc... so I have some idea what to expect prior to arriving in Ashford. My husband and I really enjoy watching the Whittaker Mountaineering videos on YouTube.

The weather here in the Puget Sound this past weekend was YUCK.
Reminds me of mid October weather but a bit warmer. I am crossing my fingers that our climbing weather will be perfect. Here's to hoping :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Anthony gets out on a hike!

This past week was a pretty full training week for me.  I managed to get in a good hike over the weekend.  Total distance was about 15 miles.  I carried 50lb in my pack and I'm not sure what the exact elevation gain was, but there was a lot of up-hill work.  I quickly realized that I wasn't carrying enough water and suffered for a long piece of the hike.  I later found out that the heat index was over 100 degrees that day.  I managed to finish okay, albeit with a very dry mouth and five pounds lighter (161.8lbs prior to leaving and 156.2lbs when I got home).  Not an ideal job of planning on my part, but lesson learned.

We had intended to do a two day overnight trip, but ended up boating with friends (lots of fun) on Saturday, so I had to fit the hiking in on Sunday.  The rest of the week was filled with the usual weights and cardio.  For weightlifting, I use a fairly comprehensive routine.  My leg work focuses on 4 sets of 15 reps or 5 sets of 10 reps.  I don't usually work with rep ranges higher than 15, maybe I should, but so far I haven't.  The usual exercises like squats, lunges (usually dynamic), stiff leg dead-lifts, leg extensions and leg curls are the staples of my leg work.  Although, I recently did some hack squats (4 sets of 15 reps) that absolutely hammered my thighs.

I picked up a really good DVD called “Train To Climb Mt. Rainier” produced by Body Results Inc.  There was some really good information on it.  It lays out a very nice training program and provides some really nice benchmarks to train toward.  I would definitely recommend it for those new to training for climbing (like myself).  I also took the time to review the three training pod-casts put out by RMI Expeditions.  These are also filled with very interesting information.  Definitely worth taking the time to listen to.

We are heading to the beach for a couple of days this coming week so training will be put on hold.  I'm going to shoot for some active rest; morning runs, stretching and some body-weight calisthenics.  Honestly, so long as I don't eat too badly, the rest will do me good.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Less than a week for Lindsay...

Yikes...less than a week away until my climb of Rainier and I have to admit I am a little anxious to find out if the training has prepared me enough for the climb. This week has been pretty low key with only one resistance workout, a couple 20 km bike rides, and some swimming. I have been trying to taper down my workouts in preparation for the climb like I would do if I was getting ready for a road race or triathlon. I wouldn’t say that I have been carb-loading as I don’t necessarily have a specific formula to follow, but I have certainly been trying to make sure I am not dehydrated in the days leading up to the climb. I have been drinking at least 2 litres of water each day and compensating when I work out. If you haven’t seen the videos that have been posted on Whittaker Mountaineering’s website, I would highly recommend it. The video of the climb to the summit of Rainier on July 16th really helped me get mentally prepared for the climb. I can’t believe there is so much snow, but at least I am going to be prepared for it. It gave some insight into what I can expect, like going to bed at 6 pm (really?) and setting out for the summit in the dark. I find the more information I know about the climbing conditions and itinerary, the better I can handle not so favourable the wind. I hate wind, but knowing that there is a likely chance there will be lots of it, makes the idea a little more bearable. I have been reading a lot of updates on Facebook that the weather has been really good up on the summit so I am hoping the good weather stays around for my climb. My husband and I are heading to Seattle Friday and will head down to Ashford on Sunday to begin our adventure...can’t wait for the experience to begin!

Be sure to check out the latest Route Condition video from Whittaker Mountaineering owner, Peter Whittaker's latest climb, July 28th.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

David's Final Entry

Beshears Final Journal Entry
July 28, 2010
Friday morning, about 10:30 AM. I check my gear one final time and load it into the car. I turn on the GPS system, directed it to Whittaker’s Bunkhouse in Ashford and set off.

Orientation at the meeting house started at 3:00. We got acquainted with our fellow team members, checked thr
ough our gear to make sure we had all that we’d need, and the guide went over the game plan for the next few days.

I checked into my room, then wandered around trying to find a phone signal. It took a while, but I finally got one near the left rear bumper of my car. I called home to let Sylvia know how things were going.

Saturday morning… the team met up outside the meeting house. We loaded into a shuttle and made the 45 minute drive up to Paradise. We spent the day up on the mountain training for the climb; learned all about ice arrest, how to rope up and travel roped, how to use crampons, and a lot more. It was a great day of training and a great workout.

Saturday evening, sitting near the back bumper of my car, carefully holding my cell phone in just the right position to keep a signal… There
was a problem at home, a family crisis. After doing what I could long distance (pretty much nothing), I hung up and hoped for the best. A few hours later, one of the hotel staff knocked on my door with a message to call home (no phones in the rooms). I went looking for a signal. When I finally connected, things were worse…
Sunday morning before I met with the rest of the team to start the climb, I called home again. Looked like I was going home… no mountain today. I stood outside the gear rental shop until it opened and turned in those items that I had chosen to rent rather than buy. I left word for my guide, got into my car, and started home.

It was devastating.
I was crushed. After two years of planning, after seven months of training, I was headed home. This climb was for my son, a young soldier injured so horribly in the war, and I was going home without completing the mission. And I was ready… so damned ready…

Well I’m not finished. As soon as this all gets sorted out, I’m going back to the mountain. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Caroline George's Nutrition Tips

Whittaker Mountaineering Guide Team member, Caroline George's advice on nutrition for alpine adventures...

Nutrition: eat healthy! If you eat well and enough, you will be ready for a climb. I don't usually eat more than usual the night before a climb because it would prevent me from sleeping well. I eat normally the days before a climb too. What matters is that while you are climbing, you are snacking regularly. I always keep food accessible in my pockets so that I can eat something quickly at each break. On a climb, I usually eat nuts and dry fruits, because they are high in calories and I therefore don't need to carry too much with me. It's a great weight/calories ratio. 

Personally, I try to eat a lot of protein, fruits, vegetables, goat cheese and nuts. These seem to be the food that make me feel and perform the best. That being said, we all have different body types and it's important to figure out what works best for you.

Allison Takes Her Pack To The Gym!

Phew, what a week it has been for us. First off, my husband arrived safe and sound on Thursday morning...YIPPEE! Now for some TRAINING!

It has been hard for me to find the time to train like I really want to with my husband gone, but that obstacle is no longer an issue, YEAH FOR ME. I was able to get in a few runs this week along some rolling hills here in town. The town we live in is ideal for running and biking. We have over 30 miles of trails, both paved and dirt/gravel to utilize, right outside our front door with amazing views of Rainier and the Puget Sound, very picturesque. I really enjoy running and if I can get my IT band under control, would LOVE to try for a marathon someday. I also sported the backpack with about 30 lbs in it (using some of my old Nursing Text Books, man are those BIG) and hit the stair climber at the Y. Was able to get in about 45 minutes before the kids were done with their activities. I guess I stand out at the Y with the big pack on because numerous people have come up to me and asked if I was training to climb a mountain. Guess I'm on the right path.

On top of training, I have started listening to Whittaker Mountaineering's Training Podcasts on Altitude. I think that will be my biggest obstacle, mentally. I am not as worried about the physical aspect of the climb as I am about the altitude. The first podcast was interesting, especially to me, a Registered Nurse, as it talked over the pathophysiology of altitude on your body. I plan to listen to the 2nd and 3rd Podcasts as well.

Well, I'm off to take the kiddos to the pool! Happy training :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How Caroline George stays fueled in the mountains...

Whittaker Mountaineering Guide Team member, Caroline George on 'what to eat' in the mountains:

There is no one way to eat in the mountains. What might work for one person may not work for another, so it's important to figure out how your body reacts to different food and drinks before you actually start on the climb. As a general guideline, it's good to eat a few healthy and slightly more caloric meals during the days preceding a climb to stock up on energy. During your approach to camp, stop every hour to drink and nibble on a light snack. Once at camp, rehydrate thoroughly. I personally try to drink a warm beverage because it performs the double task of hydrating me and that of keeping me warm. Supper should consist of an easily digestible meal so that it doesn't prevent you from sleeping. Also, the stress of the climb might tie your stomach in knots, which could in turn make the digestion process harder. Be mindful of how much you eat the night before the climb.

On D-Day, a small cup of oatmeal and a warm drink is enough to get me going in the morning. While climbing, take advantage of every break to drink and snack. As it's not always possible to stop every hour, I keep something to eat in my pants or jacket pocket in case of a sudden craving. We all react differently to temperatures, the stress of the ascent, the weather, the altitude, etc: some people need to eat a lot, others have no appetite. What matters however is to eat a little bit every hour: don't eat your whole sandwich in one go because it will literally take your breath away when you start ascending again. A little bite at a time will do the trick.

This is what I would typically take on a climb with me:

Approach Snack: a big cookie, an orange, nuts (I like Maple Pecans because they are sugar coated so it gives me an instant kick), bars, a sandwich.

To rehydrate at camp: an electrolyte powder (Nunn, Gatorade, etc.), a soup or some broth.

In the evening: mashed potatoes (super light to carry) and a package of tuna fish. Some chocolate and an herbal tea for desert.

The morning of the climb: 1.5 small package of Quick Oatmeal and some tea/coffee.

On the climb: a few bars, nuts, chocolate, gels or cliff blocks, a thermos full of a warm drink or a platypus depending on the temperatures. I bring food that I am really excited to eat so that I can motivate to eat them on the mountains.

After the climb: a nice meal, lots and lots of liquid and if you're afraid you might be sore, take an Ibuprofen.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"...there is no greater satisfaction than to overcome your fear."

Whittaker Mountaineering Guide Team member, Caroline George answers some training and preparation questions:

What are your best suggestions for staying fit for your next climb?
For alpine climbing, a mix of cardio and strength is the best training for your next climb. It's a good idea to go on long hikes with a loaded backpack on, so that you know what to expect. Knowing what to expect will help both physically and psychologically. Getting psychologically ready and motivated is maybe the most important training you can do, as the body will follow what the mind wants.

What was an intimidating or scary moment in your climbing career and how did you overcome it?
The most scary moment in my climbing career was skiing down from the summit of Mont Dolent, a peak border to Switzerland, Italy and France. I was skiing down a 45-50degree slope when a small wet snow slide took me off guard and pushed me over the edge. I fell 1300ft down a rock face, landing in soft snow on the glacier below. During the fall, I was sure that I was going to die. Others had died there. But I survived. And despite deep hypothermia - I had to wait 4 hours for rescue -, multiple fractures and two months flat on my back on a hospital bed, I didn't shy away from climbing. Much to the contrary. It motivated me to learn more about snow conditions and how to climb safer in the mountains. I could have quit climbing then, but I didn't and this taught that when you really want something, you have to be willing to overcome your fears and failures.

In the mountains, when I encounter an intimidating or scary moment, I take the time to regroup my thoughts, assess the hazard and consider the options. Sometimes the only way out is going to the top and you just have to dig deep and trust that you can do it. Other times, the risk may not be worth your while, and it's time to bail. An important aspect to acknowledge in climbing is the difference between irrational fears and a truly dangerous situation. Be sure to know your limits and feel comfortable with them. But know that in the end, there is no greater satisfaction than to overcome your fear.

Do you have any tricks to staying warm when you start feeling cold?
Think warm thoughts! Anyone who knows me knows I can't go anywhere without warm tea. I drink a lot. Eat a lot, but in small portions. And I am not afraid of climbing with one or two down jackets on. I wear heat packs on my wrists when it's really cold: to do so, I use feet warmers and put the sticky side on the inside of the glove, so that the warm side is on my skin. I take the time to windmill my arms a lot to keep blood flowing to my extremities. And I don't wait a whole day to go pee, because all the energy that the body puts into keeping urine warm, is energy that doesn't go into warming other parts of your body.

It is important to use the layering system to stay warm. The pockets of air between each layer are what help you stay warm. I personally prefer to wear Merino Wool close to my skin. Merino stays warm even when it gets wet. My favorite piece is First Ascent's Ultra-195 Merino Baselayer 1/4 Zip and Pants.

 For more on Caroline, check out her page on our website.

Anthony mixes it up

For the most part my routine stayed the same this past week, with a few minor tweaks to keep things interesting. “Two-a-days” are pretty much standard for me now, with weightlifting in the morning and cardio in the afternoon.

I sat in on my first cycling class the other day. It’s a great workout. It really fired up the quads and the lungs. I’ve been back four times since and feel myself getting stronger each time. Each class is 45 minutes to an hour in duration and the intensity is up to the individual. I know it’s not the “best” cardio for climbing, but I’ve found that there are a few advantages (for me at least): 1) it helps me to mix it up. By utilizing different training modalities, I stay interested, challenged, and out of the rut of monotony. 2) It is very motivating. There is something about being in a room full of people that brings out my competitive side; I refuse to let anyone work harder than me, so I really push myself (c’mon, admit it…you guys are just as competitive as I am…or, am I a freak?). 3) It fits my schedule. As much as I want to, there is no way to fit in a 4+ hour hike each day. There is one disadvantage to cycling though, (at least so far). How do I say this? Um, the bike seat is very hard. Consequently, my seat is very sore. I’ll be taking a few days and hitting the stair-master and treadmill instead.

My wife and I got in a pretty good hike on Saturday. I had picked up a backpack earlier in the week, so I loaded it with 53lbs (I used the bathroom scales) of stuff and we hit the trail. We hiked to a place called Mcafee’s knob. It’s a popular piece of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Total distance is about 8 miles roundtrip. It’s a pretty easy hike with only about 1200 feet of elevation gain, most of which is in the last mile of the trip up. Not counting the time spent enjoying the view, we spent a total of just under 3.5 hours hiking. It rained hard the whole way up and my wife was a real trooper about it. She really isn’t “into it”, the way I am, and I know she just goes to keep me company, which I appreciate. We are planning an over-nighter this weekend which should be fun.

Friday, July 23, 2010

David Heads to Rainier!!

Beshears Journal Entry - July 23
Friday, July 23rd
This is it… heading out to Mt. Rainier this morning. Orientation with RMI this afternoon, ascent this weekend. Looks like a full moon coming up, hope the night sky is clear when we make the final climb to the summit early Monday.

I went on my last conditioning climb this past Sunday; climbed Mt. Ellinor. It went great, and I got acquainted with mountain goats living up at the summit. Took a lot of pictures, put some of them on my facebook page (davidrbeshears).
Mt. Ellinor has a snow field that reminds me just a little of the snow field below Camp Muir. Good training. 

I was planning to do some glissading back down, but another climber I met told me she had heard of people getting injured on Ellinor recently because of hidden rocks. So I put away my outer layer and started hiking down. I began slipping and plopped onto my butt, began an involuntary glissade. Trying not to glissade is much harder than glissading. I wasn’t wearing my outer layer and since I didn’t want to get soaked, I tried to stop myself. My legs went under me and I was holding my trekking poles for hiking, not glissading. I grabbed at some bushes going by and managed to come to a stop before things got out of hand. Still, good thing I’m going to be trained for this tomorrow, eh?  

When I got back down to the trailhead, I felt exhilarated. Great hike, had a wonderful time. I am really looking forward to Rainier.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lindsay hits the trail some more!

Well, we couldn’t have had better weather on the climbs this weekend.  When I got out of the tent on Saturday morning there was not one cloud in the sky, just bright blue and sunshine.  Grotto Mountain started out okay, but about an hour and a half into the climb it became relentless.  Once again I had my pack on with most of the gear I would need to bring for the Rainier climb and for some reason it really felt heavy this time.  It seemed like it was taking forever to get to the summit.  All I could think of was I hope the hike up to Camp Muir would not be as steep.  My husband and I ran into some big horn sheep on the ridge approaching the summit and they didn’t appear to care that we were even there.  It took us just under 5 hours to climb 1425 m with our weighted packs and just under 3 hours to get back down.  We were both pretty tired when we got back to the car and ready for a relaxing evening at the campground.  We did stop at a gas station in Canmore to get some much needed Powerade and water as we both felt pretty dehydrated, even though we had both packed a litre of water and half a litre of gatorade.  The next morning we had prepared for it to be cloudy and raining, but to our surprise there was a bright blue sky and it was sunny.  We cleaned up our campsite and headed to climb Ha Ling Peak.  This is a pretty popular climb in the area so we wanted to get an early start so the trail wouldn’t be too crowded.  Ha Ling Peak is an easy scramble with an elevation gain of 700 m.  It took us under 2 hours to get to the summit and just over an hour to descend.  Since we leave for Seattle in two weeks we have decided to forego climbing next week and instead just continue with the gym workouts.   
I can't believe there is only 2 more weeks until we leave for Seattle - I hope the weeks go by fast :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Allison HEATs it up!

This week was filled with goodbyes to family and hello's to new neighbors with lots and lots of packing and unpacking from our vacation. I was able to get in only two days of Insanity workouts this past week...UGH! I have all these plans for the upcoming weeks prior to our big weekend, with hopes that I can actually do them. I borrowed a nice hiking backpack from a friend and plan to stuff it full of "stuff" and hop on the stair climber at the Y while our 7 yr old is at gymnastics. Our Y has an amazing trainer who teaches HEAT (High Energy Athletic Training) classes three times/week, which I was doing prior to our vacation. Just found out that she has started a HEAT Boot Camp for the summer, three times/week full of running, climbing, swimming etc. I'll let you know how it goes :)

This upcoming week is the most anticipated week for our family though.
My husband is due to return from Iraq after being deployed for 12 months. Not sure when he is due to arrive, but we are hoping by Friday the latest! The kids and I cannot wait to get our arms around him and have him home again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

One more week for David!

July 16, 2010

As I write this, I have one week to go before orientation day at RMI and I begin my four days at Mt. Rainier. I spent the last week stair climbing in the mornings and on the treadmill in the afternoons. I will be going on a final conditioning climb on Sunday, this time Mt. Ellinor. I understand the elevation gain is about 3200ft and that it takes about 4 hours to get to the summit.

After Ellinor I’ll back off quite bit. Monday thru Thursday I’ll limit myself to some easy walks, Yoga and stretching. And on Friday morning I’ll pack everything up and make the drive up to Rainier.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Anthony has an awesome Nutrition Tip...

So far so good...This week I've managed to hit the gym twice a day everyday except Wednesday (rest).  I've been hitting the weights in the mornings and the cardio in the afternoon/evenings.  I realize that the weightlifting is not as important for conditioning as the cardio, but I just can't help myself; I enjoy it.  Plus, I really don't want to lose strength or body-weight and with the increased cardio I'm concerned that's a possibility.  So far the cardio work has been good.  I'm shooting for at least an hour a day (except rest days) with my heart rate in the aerobic zone and most days I push it beyond that.  I try to pay attention to how I feel and adjust my workouts accordingly.  I don't want any injuries.

I've been watching my diet pretty closely as well.  As I mentioned I don't want to lose weight so I want to make sure I get enough of the right kind of calories.  I use a website called “FITDAY” to help me keep track of the calories and macro-nutrients I consume on a daily basis.  This may be a little OCD  for some people, but it works for me.  The website is free and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in monitoring and controlling their diet.

I've decided that there are a couple of training items I need to pick up to make the trail hiking more productive.  First is a decent backpack.  Something large enough to effectively carry sufficient amounts of weight.  I've been using a book-bag stuffed with 30lbs of old text books, but the bag is really strained and the weight pulls directly down on the shoulders.  The second item is a good heart rate monitor, something that will  give me accurate and consistent feedback.

I'm looking forward to a couple of good day-hikes this weekend.  Honestly, I'd like to get in more hiking than time or work will allow, but so far so good...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monica's McKinley Trip Report!

The wise sage Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”  After months of tunnel vision, during which I obsessively read about, talked about and thought about climbing Denali, the mountain made mincemeat out of me, with no apologies or explanations.  But do I care or have any regrets?  No!  I have never considered myself a peak bagger, and making the summit has always seemed like icing on the cake.  The time on Denali was incredibly rich in experience and sensory input that the only annoyance in not making it to the top is that I will probably have to try again sometime.

 We were delayed in Talkeetna by a day due to weather, but were finally flown on the glacier that Friday late afternoon.  We then rigged our sleds and packs with more gear than I thought imaginable, had dinner, drank copious amounts of water, slathered on sunscreen, roped up and set out at about 10PM.  I was behind Jake our rock star of a lead guide, and he must have sensed I was a bundle of nerves because he said “Monica, all we’re doing today is going for a nice, leisurely walk.”  He was correct.  That first day was the heaviest load, but the mildest terrain, going downhill first then gradually heading up to 7800 ft. camp on the Kahiltna Glacier.  There were many crevasses all around  and below us, but the snow was firm and we had a pretty direct path.  We rolled into camp around 5:30 AM, set up tents and went to sleep.  Our next move was to 9700 camp.  I tried to outwit my backpack and put more weight in my sled, which was a big mistake.  I felt like I was pulling the entire world behind me, and struggled unnecessarily.  After some redistribution, I had a much better time. 

 Things went south for me after our carry from 11000 to 14000.  It was very hot, as it had been on most of our days, and we were sweating profusely.  I felt good and strong, although the last push to the 14000 foot camp was endless, and it felt like we would never get there.  My feet were feeling very sweaty and I could feel some hot spots under my heels, but as we were going down, those hot spots became searing.  When I took my boots off, the left heel and arch of my foot were lacking a couple of layers of skin, with subsequent oozing.  Getting around camp that evening was torture, and I cursed every time I had to pee.  Even hopping in the vestibule to use my pee bottle was shockingly painful.  The next day we moved to 14000 camp and I cowboyed up since that’s what I was there for.  Again, I felt pretty strong and was able to overcome the feeling that I was stepping on nails with each step.  However, in camp I couldn’t cope and again going to the bathroom was the most dreaded of chores.  Despite the constant reminders from the guides to drink tons of water, I limited my intake as much as I could, because I couldn’t deal with the simple act of walking or standing to pee.  

The next day we carried to 16,200ft.  This is along the “headwall”, and the last 800 or so feet were steep enough to require fixed lines.  I felt horrible.  I had trouble catching my breath, felt off balance, felt my calves cramping, generally was quite miserable.  Coming down chafed my left foot even more, and I started feeling the same on my right.  The next day was a rest day when we should have been acclimating and regaining strength for our move to 17000.  Since we weren’t exerting ourselves, I conserved my water to avoid walking to the pee area, and got myself in a major hole.  I also started Diamox, thinking my issues were altitude related.  Unfortunately, Diamox is a diuretic, and I didn’t’ drink nearly enough to compensate.   During the move, I felt much worse than the two days before.  I felt terribly off balance, couldn’t catch my breath, was cramping, and kept closing my eyes like I was about to fall asleep.  At one point I asked Andy, one of our other rock star guides, if I could just lie down and take a quick nap.  Needless to say, that was the end of the line for me.  At that point I was not disappointed.  I felt terrible and was questioning if I had cerebral edema.  I assured myself  that if I was even thinking that, I didn’t.  I air-kissed my teammates goodbye and watched them head up while Elias, our third rock star, and I descended to the medic tent at 14000. 

 The doctor at 14000 was kind of like a high altitude Dr. House, and he came up with the thoroughly unglamorous diagnosis of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  Once he said it, I realized of course that’s what had happened.  Reviewing my water intake over the past several days, it wasn’t sufficient for a day at the office at sea level.  I spent the next two days drinking water and Gatorade and anxiously waiting for my teammates to do their thing and safely descend.  By the time they came down I felt better but certainly not normal.  The descent was probably the most harrowing of all the days.  It had been quite warm and despite traveling at the coldest time of day, the snow bridges on the lower glacier were really weak and everyone on our team punched through crevasses.  Our guides got us out flawlessly though, and I had complete trust in them.  The move up heartbreak hill actually drove me to giggles.  It was the final push before getting to base camp, and after all that downhill, uphill with our heavy sleds made us feel like true beasts of burden.

 At one point while I was rehydrating at 14000, I began anticipating my friends and families questions, namely was I terribly upset that I didn’t summit.  I wholeheartedly have to say no.  Although I would have liked to see the Buttress and the view from the top, I felt so privileged to have been on Denali at all in such an intimate way.  The beauty of Denali and the surrounding peaks is so shockingly splendid that it dropped me to my knees at times.  It was truly the closest to a spiritual encounter that I will ever have.  I also felt like every moment was filled with a new experience, ranging from dealing with snow inside the tent from condensed, frozen breath to managing those sleds.  Thus, even though when I got home my feet were still in terrible shape and I was exhausted, I felt refreshed and renewed.

 For obvious reasons, my biggest piece of advice for future Denali climbers is to drink more water than you can possibly fathom.  Also, if you are a contact lens wearer and have ever considered lasix, get it done before the climb.  Dealing with Contacts was a major hassle.  Finally, sleep with the food you’re going to eat the next day.  Nothing is worse than biting into a frozen cliff bar.  My sleeping bag housed socks, boot liners, contact lenses and solution, iPod, batteries, the two layers I would wear over my base layer, climbing pants, water, pee bottle (frozen pee bottle is no good), gloves, and the food I’d eat the next day.

 As for my future climbing, I desperately need more practice with self care at high altitude, and need to find some less hostile mountains to work on it.  I’m a bit afraid since I couldn’t have anticipated those blisters for anything.  Same boots as previous climbs, same socks.  I have no idea what happened.  Ultimately though, I think I could have overcome the pain during climbing, if I were able to manage the water flow.  It’s the dehydration that finally got the best of me, not the blisters.  Denali isn’t going anywhere, and I’m pretty sure I’ll try again within the next five years.  At that point if I again don’t make it to the top, I’m still sure I will have an amazing time and again be foolishly happy that I even stepped foot on it.

Allison Takes Her Training To The Trail!

This week has been full of fun with some training involved as well.

Started out Sunday morning hiking through Sleeping Giant State Park in Connecticut with my brother and a friend. We put about 30 lbs into our backpacks and headed out for about 5 miles or so. I was so mad (and still am) at myself for forgetting my Garmin Forerunner, would have LOVED to see how far we actually hiked along with our elevation, but oh well, totally forgot it in my suitcase! We hiked through some steep rocky terrain and the view from the top was great. I will attach a few photos. This was my first time hiking with hiking poles and I have to admit, they really made a difference.

I think I frightened my little brother when I told him we only have 8 weeks until our big climb. I am pretty sure he thought we had more time. His training buddy reminded us that we are ready for this climb, it's the added training that will make the climb less painful. I thought he said it quite eloquently :) LOL.

It has been hot and humid here in Connecticut and we hit a waterpark/ amusement park on Friday with the kids. Four adults to 7 kids 10 and under, we were definitely outnumbered. Does riding roller coasters suffice for altitude training?? I WISH! At least all that walking gave me a bit of a workout, especially when my 5 year old twins demanded I carry them. I'd say they weigh more than my Mt Rainier backpack.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ready or not...

July 9, 2010

I spent a lot of this last week with our son (wounded in the war), but I did manage to get onto the treadmill every day (always there waiting for me). The front is blocked up high and I tried to work hard at each session. I’ll be going out on a day hike this weekend with a 40lb pack, and next week I’ll be on stair climbs in the mornings, treadmill in the afternoons. I would like to get one more serious conditioning climb in, don’t know if I’ll be able to. Two weeks to go… I feel ready, but ready or not…

Friday, July 9, 2010

Meet Anthony - Training for Rainier!

Hi everyone!  My name is Anthony and I’m currently living in Roanoke, Virginia.  I’m scheduled to climb Mt. Rainier with RMI the week of September 19th.  I was fortunate enough to get one of the last spots for the Expedition Skills Seminar-Camp Muir.
The idea to climb Mt. Rainier occurred to me a couple of years ago.  It seemed like it would be a really neat challenge and a worthy accomplishment if I was successful.  Unfortunately, work commitments and scheduling conflicts prevented the opportunity until now.  Why Mt. Rainier and not some other mountain?  I don’t really know, other than to say it seemed like a serious challenge and a great place to learn about mountaineering.  Who knows, if I like it, maybe I’ll try some other climbs (although my wife may have something to say about that).
My training really started around November of last year.  At that time I was overweight and out of shape (approx 200lbs @ 5’ 7”) to say the least.  I made up my mind to do something about it, so I joined a local gym and hired a personal trainer.  I got a lot of flack from friends and got a lot of strange looks from the muscle heads at the gym about the personal trainer, but I paid them no mind.  It worked for me.  It was a great motivator knowing that someone was at the gym waiting for me and expecting me to be there.  The results were good too.  In a few months I was able to drop 35 to 40 pounds and cut my body fat percentage from around 30% to around 10%.  Since then I’ve been training on my own and making steady progress.
With the climb coming up in September, I’ll be focusing on hitting the cardio hard (treadmill and stair-master primarily) and getting as much hiking with a weighted pack as I can.  Unfortunately, living in Virginia, there is very little way to train for the altitude of a big mountain like Rainier and honestly, I’m a little nervous about that.  I’m hoping that a regular routine of high intensity interval training (HIIT) will help, but I guess there are always factors we can’t train for perfectly.
Anyway, I’m excited about the climb and look forward to a great adventure!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lindsay's Backcountry Adventure!

My husband and I have not been backcountry camping since we hiked the Chilkoot Trail in 2008 but we figured it would be good for the training.  We headed out to the Fryatt Valley about 30 km south of Jasper, Alberta.  I knew this would be a test for me because I hadn’t really been on a longer hike carrying as much weight, but I was up for the challenge.  The first day was just a long plod through a forest with a little bit of elevation gain towards the campsite at 17.7 km.  It was a little chilly in the morning when we set out, so I was wearing a dry fit shirt, light fleece sweater, and a jacket.  I like to bring small gloves (the stretchy kind) that keep my hands warm while I get going into the hike.  My experience as a runner helps with knowing what to wear and how to layer my clothing so I knew I needed to start out wearing clothes that I was a bit chilled in.  I’ve learned it is much easier to strip off layers than to not have enough. 
Taking breaks isn’t something my husband and I do often, but we found that every hour it was good to give our shoulders and hips a break.  Hydration is important and even if you are not thirsty it is important to have something every time you stop; I have to remind myself of this all of the time when I am hiking. 
The second day, we climbed the headwall which was over 200 m elevation gain in a 0.8 km distance.  I took my pack (half full) with me to have something on my back while scrambling up the headwall.  I was impressed that I was able to get up the headwall and not feel exhausted.  It’s been a while since I last scrambled any mountains so I was a little nervous how it was going to go.  In past climbs I was so slow and my calves were just killing me, but not this time.  I remember not liking hiking poles, but using them has really helped with my speed and decreased the amount of strain on my body. 
In between climbs I have been keeping up with the resistance sessions twice a week.  Interval speed runs start this week where I will be starting off with 2 intervals (warm-up run approx. 2 km, run 1 mile at 5:10 pace, then walk/slow jog for 0.40 miles, repeat once, then cool-down run approx. 2 km, then stretch).  Each week the number of intervals increases and depending on how the runs go I may change the pace at which I run the intervals.  Our next climb will be a scramble out in Jasper which has a higher elevation gain than what we have done so far.  Should be interesting!