The Weekly Stoke: Marathon tips, Utah BASE jumping deaths, interviewing Chris Davenport and why a Grand Canyon theme park is a bad idea

Zion National Park, Utah. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Zion National Park, Utah. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Man, it hit 81 degree here yesterday. So I guess winter really is over. Time to get out there! But first, a collection of links for the Weekly Stoke!

Got a spring marathon or half coming up? Here is a good list of common mistakes to avoid, as well as solutions.

Speaking of things to be careful about, this post has links from bloggers who describe some of their more notable errors they made in the outdoors, and what they learned from it.

There has been a spate of BASE jumping deaths in the desert towers of Utah.

The Adventure Journal posted this op-ed about plans to build a theme park at the Grand Canyon, and I have to agree.

And finally, there is this piece about a conversation with big mountain skier Chris Davenport.

The Weekly Stoke: No rucks at Boston Marathon, a life-saving dog, Maria Kang, an ice climbing close call and why Wyoming is awesome

Grand Teton, Wyoming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Grand Teton, Wyoming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

I’ve been seriously feeling the need to get on the road. Probably has something to do with winter-induced cabin fever. In any case, that’s given me time to find some really good links for you to check out. Let’s get to it with the Weekly Stoke!

Security concerns have ruled out military groups from doing “ruck marches” during the Boston Marathon this year.

A man out on a snowmobiling trip has his dog to thank for saving his life.

Maria Kang and familiy.

Maria Kang and familiy.

Maria Kang, the controversial  “no excuses” fit mom of three kids who made a major Internet splash recently, is doubling down on that theme in this latest effort.

Here’s a good read about this runner’s latest 100-mile ultramarathon, and all the mental games that go into conquering such a race.

If that inspires you, then check out this: A young cross-country runner diagnosed with MS is not wasting time. She’s going all-out in her sport.

This link tells the amazing story of an ice climber who had the ice he was scaling fall right out from under him.

A female CrossFit competitor has a beef with the organization — she’s transgendered, and the CrossFit games is telling her she has to compete with the guys. So she is suing.

Here’s a list of 13 tips for doing your first mud run/obstacle course race.

And finally, one more list: 20 great things about Wyoming.

The Weekly Stoke: Alex Honnold does Fitz Roy Traverse, the death of Chad Kellogg, common running mistakes and how to avoid an avalanche

Fitz Roy, Patagonia, Argentina. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Fitz Roy, Patagonia, Argentina. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

It seems that maybe winter is beginning to lose its grip, at least in my part of the world. And that means more time outside. Not that you can’t have a good time in the snow. Anyway, here’s some more goodies in this edition of the Weekly Stoke!

It might seem like Alex Honnold gets a lot of attention in this space, but he keeps adding to an already amazing list of climbing and mountaineering accomplishments. His latest was a team effort with Tommy Caldwell to do one of the most radical traverses around, the Fitz Traverse in Patagonia.

Not all the news from Patagonia is good. Speed climber Chad Kellogg died from rockfall on Fitz Roy.

This post describes some common running mistakes — and how to avoid them.

This story is a fascinating account of what it’s like to suffer from a poisonous snakebite while in the bush of Myanmar.

And finally, there is this video on avoiding the dangers of an avalanche.

Disclosure: I’m not that rad, I’m just me

There is always a temptation to think more of yourself than you really are. But for me, the reality is that I'm just another dude. And that's OK.

There is always a temptation to think more of yourself than you really are. But for me, the reality is that I’m just another dude. And that’s OK.

A few years back, I bought a book at an airport news stand that, after I read it, I was sure would change my life.

The book became part of a reading list for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. It hit the New York Times bestsellers list, and stayed there for months. When I read it, I was inspired about what one person could do to help people in war-torn places of the world.

I’m talking about Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea.” As wonderful as the book was, investigations by other journalists showed that Mortenson’s reported exploits in south Asia were at times exaggerated or unable to be confirmed. To be sure, some of the things he did in Afghanistan and Pakistan were true, but many other things claimed in the book – as well as certain facts about his life – are in dispute.

Mortenson’s accusers made him out to be a fraud. I think the final judgment is that his story was embellished to the point where he and his co-author made him out to be something that he was not.

To me, that is one of the scariest prospects any writer could ever face, particularly those of us who put ourselves out there with the things that we do. Nothing could be worse than representing myself as something I’m not; no greater breach of trust could be made.

So let’s do a little disclosure.

Conrad Anker

Conrad Anker

I am not Conrad Anker, Ed Viesturs or Simone Moro. No Himalayan summits here; no continent high points. In fact, no big mountain summits above a Class 3. Just 15 14,000-foot summits to my credit (including repeats) and four 13ers on top of that. I’ve done some Class 4 stuff closer to home, but I’m still cutting my teeth on this whole mountaineering thing; plenty of friends have done much, much more. It’s not to say I haven’t learned some things or gained some insight, but I am very much in the learning mode when it comes to the peaks.

Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold

I am not Alex Honnold. Not even close. I’m a 5.7 climber at best, and forget me setting any leads. You will never hear me dispense rock climbing or bouldering advice. I’m still a blank slate in this realm, but hoping to fix that over time. I’ll post links about climbing subjects, but that’s about it.

Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek

I am not Scott Jurek, Bart Yasso or Anton Krupicka. My longest trail race so far is 25k. My longest run ever is one marathon, and that was done just a few months ago. Oh, and I’m a 4:50 marathoner, not exactly fast. In other words, I survived it through the finish line. Yeah, I run a lot. I’m going to be in three good-sized races over the next few months and will look to improve my performance. But don’t mistake me for a long-distance coach or elite athlete. That ain’t me. I pass along what I know, but no more. Promise.

Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman

I’m not Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay Cutler or Ronnie Coleman. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a gym rat for a long, long time. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve even coached people in fitness over the years. But there ain’t anyone in the gym looking at what I lift and saying “Dayum!” Anything I pass along is going to be something that I’ve tried and found successful; will be sourced from reliable, accomplished trainers; or a combination of both. But I won’t tell you how to gain mega-muscle mass, or how to win a powerflifting meet, or what it takes to win a bodybuilding competition. There are far better sources for that kind of thing than me.

lonelyplanet_1

I am not a walking library of Lonely Planet books. I’m reasonably well traveled, but I’ve never been to Africa, Australia or South America. I’ve been to about half the states, but as much as I love the West, I still haven’t explored Utah, Oregon, Nevada or Arizona. My exposure to Idaho is really limited, too.

There are a few other things you won’t see me writing much about. Skiing, for one. I’m a low-skill skier with few opportunities to improve. And forget about anything concerning skydiving, bungee jumping or BASE jumping. Maybe a link on those subjects, or perhaps a video. But no pontificating.

So what does all this mean? It means I’m an everyday guy trying stuff. Learning stuff. And when I learn something worth sharing, I pass it along. I do gear reviews after thorough testing, and I’ll let you know if they were sent to me by a manufacturer or retailer. Every trip report is based on what I saw and did during a particular ascent. Fitness and running posts will only go as far as my experience takes me, and even then, I’ll back it up with sources from people who are experts in their field.

Not that rad. Just me, trying stuff.

Not that rad. Just me, trying stuff.

You get the idea. No BS. What you see is what you get, nothing more.

Bob Doucette

The Weekly Stoke: Sherpa evolution, protein for runners, avalanche season, a BASE jumping tragedy and Alex Honnold on video

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Some of us are starting to come out of the thaw. Unfortunately, many of you are not. Cabin fever is setting in. You need an escape. So let me give you a little reading material to help you get through it. Let’s do the Weekly Stoke!

Scientists say new research shows that the Sherpa people of Nepal have evolved over the years to become the stout high-altitude climbers and hikers that we’ve all come to know and appreciate.

Are you getting enough protein? Everyone knows people trying to gain muscle mass need to up their protein intake. But even leaner athletes like runners need to seriously increase how much protein they take in per day. I can vouch for that personally.

This link takes you to some photos and a video about a guy’s project to build a wooden camper top on his truck. Seriously cool overland travel stuff here.

It’s been a rough winter in terms of avalanche deaths, and several have happened in recent days.

Another tragic note: A couple did a BASE jump together, but the woman’s chute didn’t open properly, causing her to fall to her death.

And finally, this amazing video of Alex Honnold doing what he does: Scaling ridiculously big walls with highly technical lines, and doing it free solo.

The Weekly Stoke: Running the Grand Canyon, Alex Honnold, climbing the 14ers, NFLer turns marathoner and a new video of Felix Baumgartner’s big jump

The Grand Canyon. (NPS photo)

The Grand Canyon. (NPS photo)

Another jam-packed Weekly Stoke where we ask why we climb mountains and how to get things done in the cold. Among other awesome things. Here we go!

Some Minnesota physicians who happen to be runners give their advice on how to train in the cold outside.

This writer answers the question why people choose to climb Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. I can relate!

Speaking of climbing, Alex Honnold writes about what it takes to go from a good climber to one who has reached the top of the free-solo world.

If you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, you know who Alan Faneca is. But now out of football, this former NFL offensive lineman is now a sub-4-hour marathoner. Check out his story here.

Here’s a guide for trail runners who want to run the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim-to-rim.

This blogger provides some answers as to why marathoners often get sick after a big race.

And finally, one of the best videos I’ve seen of Felix Baumgartner’s historic supersonic skydive. The footage came from multiple cameras he had attached to his jumpsuit. Trust me, this is worth the eight minutes.

The Weekly Stoke: Climbing Ben Nevis, a centenarian swimmer, running your first ultra and fighting off a shark with a knife

Ben Nevis, Scotland. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Ben Nevis, Scotland. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

This edition of the Weekly Stoke is going to have a few themes. And good ones at that. Let’s not waste time!

Here’s an account of a winter climb of Scotland’s Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. It has some spectacular photos, and the route they chose is pretty fascinating.

Like Ben Nevis? You might also like this impressive list of 22 amazing places you’d have a hard time imagining even existed.

Let’s hear it for the older set. Here’s a pretty cool write-up about a couple who have lived and climbed together for decades, and why they chose to settle in South Dakota.

And then there’s this guy. He’s 104 years old, swims, swims long, and swims pretty fast. 104, people!

Here’s a short account of one tough dude: Goes out to sea, is attacked by a shark, fights it off, then proceeds to shore for a beer.

And on to the world of running: If you’re thinking about doing your first ultramarathon, here’s a list of considerations to make before you start.

Finally, another good running list: 5 key speed workouts for new runners. They’re good ones, and nothing feels quite like getting faster.

Have a great weekend!

The Weekly Stoke: Road life in a pickup, health benefits of ultras, controversy at Alta, and how to pick up girls at the climbing gym

One couple's idea of a new home. (adventure-journal.com photo)

One couple’s idea of a new home. (adventure-journal.com photo)

We’ve got a jam-packed edition of the Weekly Stoke this week, so let’s not waste time and get down to it…

A Vancouver couple ditched their downtown condo in favor of a pickup with a campertop and put their life on the road. Here are some of their thoughts on why they did it and what they’ve experienced.

Ultramarathoner and blogger Ashley Walsh takes on the issue of health benefits that come with ultra-length races and training. You might be surprised by her take.

Speaking of ultra training and health, these runners give you some of their tips for recovery.

And then there’s this story about running and suffering through “the death race.”

Alta ski resort in Utah is getting sued by snowboarders who are contesting its skiers-only policy.

Brendan Leonard creates a chart on how to appeal to girls at the climbing gym.

And finally, some information about how being outside in a natural setting trumps being outside in more man-made places.

Have a great weekend!

The Weekly Stoke: Alex Honnold’s latest feat, stuff runners know, a homicidal climber and extreme drought in the Sierras

Alex Honnold in the Sierras. (Alex Honnold Facebook page photo)

Alex Honnold in the Sierras. (Alex Honnold Facebook page photo)

How is everyone’s week going? Hopefully it’s been filled with adventure or just plain getting after it. Without further delay, here’s the latest Weekly Stoke!

Uber climber Alex Honnold is at it again, this time pulling off a multi-pitch, 1,500-foot free solo climb in Mexico. Mixed in this achievement were several 5.12 pitches. Did I mention he did this free solo?

Here’s a list of things only runners understand. Some are gender specific.

This post details some of the health issues that affect ultra marathoners.

This story is a weird one in which one climber allegedly killed another (who had been described as the suspect’s mentor) with a hammer.

A Crossfit coach and competitor suffered a devastating injury during a recent competition while attempting an Olympic lift.

And finally, while there are some parts of the country that are experiencing a cooler and wetter winter, that is definitely not the case n California, which is in the midst of a devastating drought.

That’s a whole lot of news. Now go make a story of your own. Have an excellent weekend!

The heartbreaker: Knowing when to stop short of the summit

If you were this close to the top, could you pull the plug on a summit bid?

If you were this close to the top, could you pull the plug on a summit bid?

I ran into a discussion on an online hiking and mountaineering forum where a question was asked: How many times have you been forced to turn back from a summit, and what caused you to make that decision?

I read through the entire thread, mostly because I like to learn about what prompts people to make the decisions they make. The answers varied, with most people citing bad weather, sketchy snow conditions or physical problems as the reasons they stopped short of a summit and turned around. One person said he was less than 200 feet from the top when he bailed, a true heartbreaker of a decision.

I’ve also seen some reports people wrote where they discussed what caused them to turn around.

In one report, writer Ross Gilmore talks about his attempted ascent of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. He was going for a winter summit of the highest peak in the northern Appalachians. Mount Washington is known to have some of the worst weather anywhere in earth, mostly due to its latitude and position vis-à-vis with common winter weather patterns that flow over that part of North America. Wind speeds of more than 200 mph and well-below sub-zero temps have been recorded here.

In this case, climbers faced high winds, whiteout conditions and frigid temperatures. Gilmore wrote this:

“It was becoming literally impossible to move. We just couldn’t stand up straight. We would make two steps and then be blown over. At times, no matter how hard you tried to stand up against the wind, it would blow you over. We struggled along, at times crawling until we got part way up Lion’s Head, just below the Alpine Garden. At that point one of the guys called it. I certainly shared his feeling that we couldn’t go on. Even if we found a way to keep moving, we were burning too much energy doing it. It would have been impossible to make it all the way up to Mt. Washington and then back down.”

His full report can be seen here.

Another post I saw was written by Heather Balogh. She wrote a piece about her attempt to climb Colorado’s Capitol Peak, one of the gnarliest and toughest climbs of all of that state’s 14,000-foot peaks. Capitol includes a highly exposed and committed portion along its summit ridge where you don’t want to be caught in bad conditions. It was here that she and her climbing partners faced a decision as weather conditions began to deteriorate:

“Luckily, Will and I both felt exhilarated on the ridge and loved every second of our crossing! However, we reached the end of the Knife Edge and realized that a massive storm was blowing in towards the summit of Capitol. It hadn’t gotten bad yet, but we could see the black sky developing and the wind gusts were increasing. Again, we chatted and both agreed that per usual, no mountain is ever worth the risk. There is no quick descent off the Knife Edge, so if you’re up there when a storm blows in, you’re fairly screwed. So, although we were only 45 minutes from the summit, we both agreed without hesitation that it was time to turn around.”

You can read her full report here.

As for me, I have a couple of stories: One where I decided to bail and one where I should have bailed but didn’t, and paid for it later.

In the first case, I was on a solo hike in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains with the goal of scrambling to the top of Sunset Peak. It’s not a big mountain, and it’s not an overly long hike. Gaining Sunset’s summit is not technically demanding. But it is in a wilderness area, and trouble there means a narrow window of opportunity for self-rescue. A huge storm with flooding rains and lots of lightning bore down on the range, and my decision was simple: Getting caught on a high, treeless granite dome in a storm like that was too risky. I did other things that day, but Sunset was a no-go. I went back months later on a bluebird day and had a great time hiking and scrambling to its summit.

In the second case, I should never have gone. I was overcoming a respiratory infection that I thought was on the wane when I attempted to gain the summit of Colorado’s Mount Yale, a 14,000-foot peak in the central part of that state. I began to drag physically around 12,000 feet, experienced some pain and cramping at 13,000 feet, but kept going. I ended up bagging the summit, but came down the mountain with a raging case of pneumonia and pleurisy that laid me out for a few weeks once I got home. Recovery from that illness took a couple of months, and there were aspects of it (fluid around my heart) that could have killed me. I eventually recovered, but that episode taught me that I need to make sure I’m in good health and proper before attempting anything at higher altitudes.

So what stories do you have? Have you been turned back? What guided your decision? And has there been a time when you should have turned back, but didn’t? What was the result? Share your stories in the comments.

Bob Doucette