Couch to 14K: Getting geared up for a 14er ascent

The right type of gear can make the difference between a successful ascent or a pretty bad day.

The right type of gear can make the difference between a successful ascent or a pretty bad day.

In my last Couch to 14K post, I went over some things you could do to get properly conditioned for your first attempt at a 14,000-foot mountain ascent.

Today, the topic is gear. We’re talking about the equipment, clothing, and nutrition you should have with you when you begin your climb. If you’re an experienced hiker, there is a good chance you have a lot of this stuff. If not, you may end up doing a little shopping spree before it’s all over. The recommendations I’m giving you assume your attempt is going to be on a mountain that can be hiked or climbed in a single day, and we’re talking about early summer to early fall weather conditions. So here goes:

CLOTHING

Temperatures and weather conditions can vary on the mountain, and the way your body operates under physical strain all make a difference here. What you choose to wear is not just important to your comfort, but also your safety.

The things that go on your body – I don’t want to get too rigid on this, but steer clear of cotton clothing. Yes, plenty of people have hiked and climbed the 14ers in cotton T-shirts and jeans. But there are plenty of reasons not to.

Cotton retains moisture, so once it gets wet, it stays wet. A body in cold conditions with damp clothing all around is susceptible to hypothermia. Go instead for moisture wicking synthetic fabrics. Include an undershirt, then maybe something like a fleece top over that. You should always include a breathable rain jacket, as summer in the Rockies usually has a daily serving of afternoon thunderstorms that sometimes hit earlier than you expect. Cold and wet is no way to be when you’re up high.

For your pants, there are a number of good synthetic-fiber, moisture-resistant and breathable hiking pants on the market that suit your needs by keeping you dry. If the weather is going to be cooler than normal, moisture-wicking long underwear can be helpful.

Lastly, pack a wool knit cap (or an equivalent to that) and a pair of light gloves.

Keep in mind that as you’re headed up the mountain, your body heat will rise. So that’s why it’s wise to dress in light layers, adding or subtracting clothing as conditions warrant.

The things that go on your feet – This is important, and the “no cotton” thing is more critical here. Wear wool or synthetic wool socks. They will wick moisture away from your feet and help prevent blisters. Cotton socks are a recipe for blisters.

For your shoes, a decent, rugged (but not too heavy) pair of hiking shoes or boots is called for here. When you get fitted, be sure to buy a size that gives you a little extra room for your toes (try a half size bigger than you normally wear). This will help save your toes on the downhills. If possible, use boots that are water resistant or waterproof. (Many boots have Goretex fabrics to keep moisture out)

YOUR PACK

What’s in your pack – Rather than reinvent the wheel, here is what has been dubbed the new “10 essentials.”

Navigation (map and compass)

Sun protection (sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm)

Insulation (extra clothing; though you should be covered here)

Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)

First-aid supplies (lots of good first-aid kits out there)

Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)

Repair kit and tools (knife or multitool)

Nutrition (extra food; more than what you need for the day)

Hydration (extra water; water filter system; iodine pills; water bladder)

Emergency shelter (think “space blanket,” unless your trip is longer than a day; then we’re talking about a tent or a bivvy sack)

What type of pack you should use – The brand you pick is your choice. But my tips would include:

- Between 1500 and 2000 cubic inches capacity for a day trip

-  Make sure it has a hip belt

- A sleeve for a hydration bladder is a good bonus

You don’t have to spend a lot of money. I paid about $80 for a North Face day pack, and it has served me well.

WHAT’S NOT IN YOUR PACK

In this case, the list is simple. Bring a hat that gives you some sun protection and sunglasses. The sunglasses are also helpful if you end up hiking through snow fields; trust me on that one.

You might also consider getting a pair of trekking poles. How much you spend is up to you; the lighter, more durable ones will be pricier ($130+) while a cheap pair can be found at Walmart of a big box sporting goods store for around $25. Trekking poles can help you stay stable on tricky terrain and can also take pressure off your knees on the downhills.

FOOD AND WATER

Altitude does funny things to your body in terms of your appetite, energy burn and hydration. Simply put, if you rely on how you feel, you won’t want to eat and you won’t drink nearly enough. So with that in mind, you have to be sure you bring enough food to keep you fueled (it’s not unusual to burn 2,000 or more calories on a summit hike) and enough water to stay hydrated.

Your food should be a mix of fast- and slow-burning carbohydrates, as well as some proteins and fats. Trail mix is a good standby, but you might also consider nutrition bars (Clif Bar makes some good ones) or just plain ole candy. My favorite: Snickers Minis. They are 100-calorie sugar bombs, easily consumed and provide just enough protein and fat to give you some slow-burn energy to go along with the sugar. Some salty snacks are a good idea, too, as you’ll run through salts pretty quick. A PBJ and a banana makes a pretty good summit lunch, but I’ve seen people haul burritos in their packs as well. That said, you’ll want to limit canned foods or foods that have a lot of water in their packaging. It’s just extra weight.

In terms of water, I’d recommend having 3 liters of the stuff ready to roll, and if your trip is going to be longer, see if there are going to be water sources on your path and use that water filter.  Water is heavy, but you’re going to need it. For variety, bring a sleeve or two of powdered drink mixes. You can mix some of your water store in an empty bottle and get some flavor and extra calories as you hydrate, a real bonus. Eat periodically and drink often.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Depending on when you go, snow might be a factor. If there is going to be snow on your route, consider getting some traction gear for your feet, such as Kahtoola Microspikes.

So there’s my primer on what you’ll want to have with you on that first 14er ascent. In my next post: Picking the mountain and the route. Stay tuned!

Bob Doucette

Couch to 14K, Part 1: 14er fitness

Want to see views like this? The first step will be getting in proper shape.

Want to see views like this? The first step will be getting in proper shape.

Say you’re a flatlander. Or a person in a mountain state who has a strong desire, but no experience, in finding the summit of one of the great peaks of the Rockies. How do you get to the point of merely staring at a 14,000-foot peak to standing on top of one?

Well, you’re in luck. I’ve been where you’re at, and not that long ago. High country adventures can be a real blessing, and for a lot of us that first summit got us hooked, eventually leading us to the top of many more.

What I want to do is cover a lot of ground on what you can do to bag your first 14er summit. It’s not like your average day hike, and there are many considerations to keep in mind. So what you’re going to see here over the next several days is a multi-part series that we’ll call “Couch to 14K.” I’ll go over things like fitness, gear, selecting a mountain and, finally, how to tackle that first ascent.

My assumption is that for most people, they are planning to hit the high country during the prime hiking season between late June and mid-September. So everything I’m writing about in the days to come will be based on that sort of plan.

Let’s get to it by addressing one of the more important aspects of getting to that 14er summit: Fitness!

Whether you live in the flatlands like me (not too far above sea level) or you live in a place like Denver, you’re going to find that any time you go into higher altitudes, the air is far thinner, and even small tasks become more difficult and tiring. Acclimatizing – the act of going to and staying at a high altitude to get used to the higher elevation – is one way you can prepare yourself, but this is something we’ll cover later. Even an acclimated person is going to have difficulties if his or her body is not in the proper condition. A strong body, heart and lungs are the keys to having a greater chance of success in finding that summit. For me, 14er fitness is about three things: Cardiovascular capacity, physical strength and, quite simply, hiking.

Running is a great way to get in shape for the 14ers.

Running is a great way to get in shape for the 14ers.

CARDIOVASCULAR CAPACITY: This one is critical. You heart and lungs will be highly taxed once you get above 10,000 feet or so, even more so at 12,000 feet or more. The air up there has about half the oxygen as it does where most of us flatlanders live, and not much more than that for people who live in cities like Denver.

I like to run, so this one is not too tough for me plan. I usually run four to five times a week, with each run a little different in length, speed and difficulty. What I would do is work up to the point where you can run, at a steady pace, up to 8-10 miles in one workout. Have a short run to begin the week; a medium-length run in the middle of the week; a very hilly run soon after, and on the weekend, plan for that long run. If you can get to the point where you’re running 20-25 miles a week, you’ll be good to go. If you need a more structured plan, take a look at a Hal Higdon beginner’s half marathon training program. That will get you in shape.

Not everyone is a runner, so I get that. So here is where you find alternatives. Cycling is a great way to get in shape. Perhaps mix in some swimming. Anything you can do to get in shape can and will work. Just be sure that at least a couple of your cardio sessions each week are the measured-pace, longer variety that could simulate being hard at work for at least 90 minutes to two hours.

Last note – One thing that might help you if you don’t have hills to train on is a set of stadium steps. Running up and down stadiums is a fantastic way to get in shape. And for your core, take a hard look at yoga. Many hikers and runners I know swear by it.

Weighted bench step-ups are one of several solid exercises to get into 14er shape.

Weighted bench step-ups are one of several solid exercises to get into 14er shape.

PHYSICAL STRENGTH: I’m a big proponent of the weight room, but truly, any strength training will do. There are key areas where you will want to get your work done. The three main areas of focus I see are your back, your core and your legs.

The way you do this is up to you. You can gain physical strength by hitting the weights or doing a variety of bootcamp or “body pump” classes. Although I’m not a Crossfitter, some people get a lot out of it. Personally, I’m a lifelong gym rat who enjoys hitting the weights. But let me emphasize a few exercises that will help pound that body of yours into shape.

Squats – This is one of the best leg exercises there is, as it works the entire thigh and your glutes. Whether you’re doing body weight, working with dumbbells or putting a barbell on your back, this should be a part of what you do.

Lunges – A great hamstring and glute exercise. Again, you can do this with or without weights.

Bench step-ups – There are few exercises that simulate steep hiking than these. Just find yourself a bench and step up, focusing on squeezing your quads and glutes. You can do these with or without weights, depending on your ability.

Deadlifts – A simple yet effective exercise where you squat down to pick up a weight and pick it up. Not only does this exercise work your legs and glutes, but it’s also a powerful back exercise. If you haven’t done much of these, start with a light weight and work your way up.

Planks – It’s hard to find a better core exercise than planks, as they work your abs, your sides and your lower back. Start by holding yourself in a plank position for 15 seconds. Over time, work your way up to a minute or more.

Personally, I’d advise making sure your strength training hits your whole body every week. Balance is the key to a strong, healthy and rugged physique, so that means strengthening your upper body as well. Incorporate strength training into your plan three times a week, and pay close attention to hitting your legs and core.

If you are planning on a big adventure on the trail, make sure your body is up to snuff. Part of the solution: Hitting the trail often to get yourself in hiking shape.

If you are planning on a big adventure on the trail, make sure your body is up to snuff. Part of the solution: Hitting the trail often to get yourself in hiking shape.

HIKING: This seems like a no-brainer, but when it comes to becoming a strong hiker, you need to get out there and hike. Most 14ers routes are anywhere from 6 to 12 miles roundtrip, and their trails can be uneven, rugged and filled with elevation changes. Working on your cardiovascular and strength training will help, but nothing will get your body used to a long ascent quite like strapping on a day pack and logging some miles.

Start out by hitting some trails where you live. The more hills, the better. Your focus should be less on miles and more on time spent on your feet. So try getting out there for a couple of hours to start, then work your way up. As you get stronger, try to shoot for hiking days that last 8, 10 or even 12 hours. That may seem like a lot of time, but think of it this way – that’s a great way to spend time outside, and it will get you in shape.

Best yet, when you go on your hike, plan on wearing the gear you plan to use on your 14er trip. Load up that backpack, wear the boots and clothes you plan to bring, and get after it. That will break in your gear and get you accustomed to using and lugging all that stuff up and down the hills for several hours.

Speaking of gear, that’s where we’ll go for Part 2 of Couch to 14K. Look for my next installment where we’ll go over the kind of gear you’ll want to have with you as you tackle your first 14,000-foot ascent.

Bob Doucette

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: 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

avy

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: 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: 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

The Weekly Stoke: Top mountaineering posts of 2013, skiing in North Korea, a frigid marathon and a Texan skier’s reaction to legalized pot

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. (Wikipedia commons photo)

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. (Wikipedia commons photo)

Hopefully everyone is out of the deep freeze and is avoiding the bug that’s been going around. I’m one-for-two on that count, but on the mend. Anyway, Here’s a good collection of links I think you’ll find interesting from the world of the outdoors. Let’s get on with the Weekly Stoke!

The good folks at In Ice Axe We Trust put together their top 10 (more like 13) mountaineering  trip reports for 2013, and there are some good ones in there. If you’re a regular reader of Proactiveoutside, you might recognize one of those posts…

North Korea’s construction of a ski resort is more than just an attempt to boost tourism, though I have to wonder how much demand there is for North Korean powder. It may be a middle finger directed toward European and other ski lift manufacturers who refused to help build the site, this post posits.

What’s the coldest marathon you’ve ever run? Probably not as cold as this guy’s. Hint: It was run in Russia.

The survivor of a plane crash in Hawaii managed to record the entire event, and part of that includes what is probably going to be the selfie of the year.

And finally, we go back to the slopes where a rich Texas ski tourist says he’ll take his business elsewhere is he sees or hears too much “pot” stuff at Colorado ski resorts. Note to rich Texan ski guy: I don’t think you’ll be missed.