Saturday, February 21, 2009
I reached a milestone of sorts this past Sunday morning, a personal best time hiking to the top of Camelback Mountain from the Echo Canyon trailhead: 24:27. (As a point of comparison, the best I could muster last year, just before the Chinese pulled the plug on all Everest expeditions planning to climb the mountain from the Tibet side, was 24:59.) Now I'm wondering just how much faster I can go. As it is, I have to run all of the traverses. I use my Sunday morning jaunt up Camelback as an unerringly honest gauge of how effective my training is. The mountain simply doesn't lie. A lower time means that my cardio-vascular workouts in combination with sleeping in my altitude tent are paying off. Yes, there are world-class athletes who could probably still kick my butt climbing Camelback, but I've said many times that you're in great shape if you can climb Camelback in as many minutes as your age. What does it mean that I can climb Camelback in less than half as many minutes as my age? I suppose I should feel ecstatic, but the reality is that I wonder if it's even close to being enough for a challenge as big as Everest. Yesterday, I climbed Camelback with my pack filled with over six gallons of water. The total pack weight was around 70-75 pounds. It took me an agonizing 55 minutes to reach the top. To save my knees on the way down, my plan was to dump the water out at the top, but not wanting it to go to waste I first offered it to anyone at the summit who wanted to top off their water bottles. A line of about two dozen people quickly formed, all thankful for the water, and all probably quite convinced that I was crazy. I look forward to Sunday morning, when I will once again see if I can lower my (unladed) personal best time.