Here is Monica's first journal - She's training for her Denali climb in June.
Fifty two more days! I’ve been planning on this for so long, but now that it’s so close, my head is spinning. I officially signed up for Denali on 8/31, figuring if I did it sooner rather than later, I’d have more time to get ready. This is something I’d thought about back when I first climbed Mt. Rainier. I loved the idea of being on a mountain for that long, and I also loved the idea of overcoming such a physical, emotional and mental challenge. For me, climbing is when I can calm my mind. I don’t think about anything going on at home, and think only about what’s happening at the present and putting one foot in front of the other. The thought of being in that state of mind for almost a month sounded fantastic. Plus, let’s face it… the “wow’s” and high fives I get when people hear I’m doing this are kind of fun.
My training has consisted of CrossFit and hiking with a weight vest or pack. I’ve been doing CrossFit for quite awhile and absolutely love it. I thrive on the sheer intensity of it, the functionality, the variance and the fact that it is slightly competitive. A lot of CrossFit is like Mountain Climbing. When you don’t think you can possibly do one more repetition or run any more is a lot like when you feel you just can’t take another step. But then you do it, and you really feel like you accomplished something. It’s also amazing to see what the human body is capable of doing. Some of their workouts sound so impossible that I consider walking out. Once I signed up for Denali, I was doing CrossFit 4-5 mornings per week and using a 40 pound weight vest 1-2 times per week. My weight vest use was either on the Stair Climber (simulated staircase) or outside in the hills.
In January, I cut down to CrossFit 3 mornings a week, and hiking with the pack 2-3 times per week for 1-2 hours. I also upped my pack weight to 56 pounds. The biggest thing that happened in January was getting a new pack. When I jumped to 56 pounds I was so uncomfortable I thought of giving up. The pack was digging into my shoulders and not only felt heavy, but was downright painful. I then had the bright idea of checking out the Xenon Osprey, which RMI recommends for women. The salesperson fit me for it, and said I was a “small”, which shocked me, since I’m a chronically medium type of gal. I guess despite my height, I have a fairly short torso, and my other pack was sliding down my hips, rather than on top of my hips. When I finally loaded it up, I was in heaven. It fit right over my hips and took so much pressure off my shoulders. It also had a narrower harness, so rather than feeling like the shoulder straps were dislocating my shoulder joint, it was farther in towards my sternum.
I quickly got used to 56 pounds, and have been jumping up every month. Much of March and all of April I’ve been using 70 pounds for most of my hikes, lasting usually 3 hours. If I’m extremely tired or sore, I’ll bring it down to 63 pounds. I don’t plan on going any heavier than 70, because I’m pretty much carrying half my body weight, and I can feel my joints and vertebrae compressing. Obviously, and injury at this point would be devastating!!!
Thanks for the update, Monica! Check back soon to read more about Monica's training!