Aug 29, 2004

california update

well i've been here almost a week and california has been... interesting.
my mother keeps trying to persuade my wife that she should move here to california. what she doesn't realize is that she'll get me to move to CA before she getrs my wife. At least I see a huge recreational opportunity in the giagantic dirtpiles around - peak bagging, dirt biking, geocaching.. there's a lot for a guy like me to do. alex, on the other hand, is not into any of that stuff and all she sees is brown - because thats what riverside californai is. it actually reminds her of india - the brown sky is sometimes actually hard to distinguish from the brown horizon. it can be pretty depressing. and lets not forget that we're here during an unusually mild time - the highs have been about 85 - so at least its somewhat comfortable - the hiughs are normally closer to 95 or 100 - where its not so comfortable. my wife gets downright depressed in places like this - she needs some green growing things. there is n't a lot of that around here.

there are cool things i've been doing before my week of hiking next week. we visited a lot of friends and took a ride through my old neighborhood. there are also some decorative orange trees in my parents' complex of cookie-cutter houses (they call it victria grove) and some of the oranges are becoming ripe right now - i've never had a more delicious orange in my life. so juicy are they that it takes only three to fill a pint-sized glass with juiice - and it sure is delicious as far as OJ goes. So that is kind of fun. and, of course, its good to be enjoying my father's cooking again - try as i might to duplicate it in NY, I'm just not good enough yet.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty excited about the hiking that starts on tuesday, when we do san jacincto peak outside palm springs. wednesday we go to whitney for a midnight start up on the moutain. and there's nothing more to say about that that I've not already mentioned..

Aug 23, 2004

klog - denali's west buttress - 8/22/04

steve's booklog (klog) entry - Denali's West Buttress - A Climber's Guide to Mt. McKinley's Classic Route by Colby Cooms

There are a couple of reasons why I read this book. First of all, i'm in the highpointer's club - and 49 highpoints doesn't cut it. whether or not that's a good enough reason for me to attempt the great one is not something i've decided yet - but i am thinking about it and if i do it, the west buttress route is the way i will go. but even if i never step foot on the kahiltna glacier this book has proved itself very useful because with all the books people have written and the online trip reports its helpful to really know how this route is set up - and thats where this book really shines. it will give you an amazing amount of background information as well as an awareness of the dangers of being high on mt. mckinley.

T-Minus 18hrs, 23 minutes

its 7:07am and i have a busy day ahead of me. gotta complete all the preparation needed for the flight to california this afternoon.

the reward, of course, will be the dirty mexican food tonight.

i'll be posting pictures.. (assuming that i remember to pack my memory card reader - like i said, prep, prep, preparation.)

Aug 22, 2004

Interesting Facts

On the way back from Whitney, we're planning to go to vegas, and make a stop at Death Valley (the lowest dry point in the country) on the way. Now, just about everyone knows that the highest point in the world is Mt. Everest in Nepal/China - but what is the lowest point? So out of pure dumb curiosity, I did a brief web search and quickly found what I was looking for.

According to my souce, the lowest dry point in the world is the Bentley Subglacial Trench in Antartica, which is -2540m (-8333 feet), or 2540 meters below sea level. Death Valley, by comparison, is only -86m (-282 feet.) The glacier above it is also the deepest ice anywhere in the world. This was cool, but it wasn't what I was looking for because covered in frozen water is still covered in water - and I was looking for dry spots. The significance is, however, that it is the deepest part of the world that is not under sea water - in other words, the deepest lake (well, lakes cannot be frozen, but you see what I mean.)

So I went back to my source and I browsed my list and found that the lowest elevation of dry land - and it turns out that its the shore of the dead sea - the surface of which stands at -408m (-1399 feet below sea level), is the lowest dry point in the world. Neat.

Happy, but not quite satisfied, I wanted to know what the lowest point in the world was, under sea water or other wise. Turns out that there is a spot in the Pacific Ocean called the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, which is an amazing -10924m! (-35840 feet!) That is almost 7 MILES deep!

Now I can say I was satisfied. I did one web search looking for a single fact, and found a total of three related facts that just fascinated the heck out of me.

To review:
Lowest point in the world: Challenger Deep, 35,840 feet below sea level
Lowest point in the world not under sea level: Bentley Subglacial Trench, 8333 feet below sea level
Lowest dry point in the world: Shore of the Dead Sea, -1399 feet below sea level.

klog - the servant - 8/22/04

Booklog (klog) entry - The Servant by James Hunter.

When I heard that Hunter was to be the keynote speaker at the convention i'm attending in vegas, i figured i ought to hunker down and read this book, which i received in may. I'm not going to write a review of this except to say that its a petty quick read, with a lot of great lessons - providing angles and subjects that i had not thought of. after reading this book, i'm really looking forward to seeing hunter in vegas.

Aug 21, 2004

whitney looms

hi everyone. just an evening post before bed.

today the day was spent packing - or so was our intentions. i wanted to run to syms to pick up a suit that i bought last week before the traffic started. due to our usual morning delays, it was almost 11am before we got our butts out the door. and, by the way, since i was headed down into paramus, i thought we would run a few more errands while we were there. making a very long story short, we stopped at verizon wireless, kinkos, ikea, syms, back to kinkos, back to ikea, toys r us, and campmor. when we got home, it was 4:30!! our packing quickly got underway and as of a few hours ago we are pretty much done, thanks to the monster duffel back i got last week at campmor. the damn thing fits everything we need (except our suits which we'll pack seperately for wrinkle prevention) and right now i'd estimate the weight at between 50 and 70 lbs.

monday looks like an exciting day. we're going to need dry ice to keep the frozen breastmilk frozen during the flight. i'm going to attempt to retrieve my wedding ring from the bowels of my cousin's car, into which i accidently dropped it last week. i'll need to drop some stuff off at mikey's work on the way. i'll need to gather about ten hours worth of food for the baby and put it into the carry-on. and, of course, the sandwiches we're getting for the plane-ride cannot be forgotten.

six hours after leaving new york, we'll pile into a car in LA and head straight for the dirty mexican food joint (t-minus 50 hours) where i'll be sure to take lots of pictures. of course, everyone there will be excited to see the baby. i'll be excited to see the carne asada burrito.

there is an itinerary change regarding whitney. we are no longer going to attempt humphrey's peak in arizona. instead, we'll do an acclimization hike at san jacincto peak, which is much closer to my parents house. san jacincto is the summit of the famous "cactus to clouds" climb, which goes from the desert of palm springs 10,000 feet up to the summit - usually done in a day. it is said to be one of the hardest hikes in the country. i will not be doing the cactus to clouds hike. i will spend $21 and take the palm springs tram to about 8000 feet and hike the rest of the way - still respectable at 2500 feet 10 miles round trip - and it will make a really good acclimization hike for whitney. it will keep us out of trouble. this will be on tuesday august 31st. an added bonus to this change is my buddy vince, who lives near palm springs, will be able to join us on this hike! mikey arrives at 11pm the night before, and the first tram is at 10am. so we should have plenty of time. meanwhile, the ladies (alexandria and vince's wife) will spend the day shopping.

from san jacincto, we'll probably end up sleeping in riverside, then leaving early the next morning (september first) to the whitney portal, where we'll spend some more time sleeping at 8000 feet. we'll need to get our rest any way we can, because at the strike of midnight (or earlier) we're going to start up the mt. whitney trail!

milestones of the whitney trail are as follows:
whitney portal, 0.0 miles, 8365'
lone pine lake, 2.5 miles
outpost camp, 3.5 miles, 10364'
mirror lake, 4.0 miles (treeline)
trailside meadow, 5.0 miles
trail camp, 6.0 miles, 12009' (start of switchbacks)
trail crest, 8.2 miles, 13777' (end of switchbacks)
muir junction, 8.6 miles, 13480'
whitney summit, 10.7 miles, 14494'

as i've said, whitney is a test of my mental toughness. i know from my experience that if i take something nice and easy, i can overcome the gradual fatigue. in other words, i may not be able to run a marathon, but i sure as hell can walk one. that said, whitney is going to be the hardest nice, easy walk i've ever done in my life. that's a lot of gain to take in one morning. i figure that i can average 1mph, which is slow as molasses, all the way to the summit. figure two 30-minute breaks and i get there at noon. we'll probably end up walking a little bit faster than that, at least to trail camp, and slow down from there. from trail camp to the summit is less than five miles, but they're a hard five miles. so if we can get to trail camp before dawn, we'll be in pretty good shape. trail crest is a different story - it is likely that altitude is going to really be hitting us hard at trail crest and at the very least we'll be short of breath. on the other hand, i kind of see trail crest as the point of no return - if we've made it that far, we better go for broke. sitting here in suffern, personally, the only thing i would think would turn me back past trail crest is lightning or HAPE/HACE (severe life threatening altitude sickness). I definitely want to see the "windows," which will be my first ever experience of mountain exposure - and those windows are between the crest and the summit. so we'll see. hell, we may not even make trail camp. that would be a bummer. but then again, we may go all the way.. and exceed everyone's expectations.

i can't wait.

Aug 20, 2004

dirty mexican food countdown

my plane arrives in LA at 8:50PM PDT on Monday night. I figure I will be eating dirty mexican food at albertos by Monday 8/23/04 10:30PM PDT that night. Right now it's Friday 8/20/04 11:30AM EDT in New York.

Lets figure this out here..
Monday 8/23/04 10:30PM PDT = Tuesday 8/24/04 1:30AM EDT

0 hours: Tuesday 8/24/04 1:30AM EDT
24 hours: Monday 8/23/04 1:30AM EDT
48 hours: Sunday 8/22/04 1:30AM EDT
72 hours: Saturday 8/22/04 1:30AM EDT
84 hours: Friday 8/20/04 11:30PM EDT
86 hours: Friday 8/20/04 11:30AM EDT

86 Hours until I'm munching on that tasty, decadent dirty mexican food!!
All hail the fine dirty mexican purveyors of the best food in the world!!

Aug 19, 2004

fast week

holy cow - i can't believe it's already thursday.. it feels like tuesday- and it's really hard to believe that in about 100 hours i'll be on a plane for california. this trip is coming up fast and I have to really get focused on getting ready. There are countless people I have to see, the business I have do do while I'm out there, and, of course, Mt. Whitney, which is really firing me up right now - in a big way.

I picked up a new daypack at EMS the other day along with some nalgene bottles and socks (they were on sale) and I'm just about finished with the gear I'll need for the hike. I also went to Campmor and picked up a "collosal" bag which will simplify packing.. it redefines "packing light" - the damn thing might weight 200 lbs - but we'll only have one or two bags. When you have a baby, one or two bags makes things a lot easier.

By monday night I'll be eating dirty mexican food in California! First stop is Albertos.. mmmm... burrito de carne asada.. (:

Aug 17, 2004

This blew my mind

went on a brief hike today in harriman and lived to tell about it.

jackie jones mountain, which together with rockhouse mountain, are at the same height and the highest points in rockland county. on a coin flip, i decided to do jackie jones mountain, which is located just SE of lake welch. it is identified by a large radio/microwave tower near the summit.

the reason i'm posting about this hike is the fascinating ruins i came across on the way up the mountain. on my trail map, it was listed as ORAK ruins - which didn't seem significant, although when i got there i was impressed by its large size. it seemed hundreds of years old, but there were some relics of modern life which gave away its age, such as what appeared to be a water tank - possibly a heater.

when i got home i did a search to see what this place was. turns out to be extremely interesting.

The trail at first follows the road, then detours onto an older, brushed-out road through a hemlock/pine grove and some mountain laurel stands to the impressive ruins of the ORAK mansion. (It had been built by the founder of the Karo syrup company, who decided in naming his retreat to spell the name of his product backwards.)


amazing, eh? the stuff you stumble upon in harrmiman can blow your mind..

All of the pictures I took: (go here some great pictures of the views from atop jackie jones)

Aug 16, 2004

klog - minus 148° - 8/14/04

Steve's booklog (klog) entry - Minus 148º - The First Winter Ascent of Mt. McKinley by Art Davidson.

Fascinating and captivating book - the kind of story you'd think make a really great, imaginitive adventure movie if you didn't know it was a true story. From the beginning to the end, this book is packed with details of the kind of ordeals they faced in their attempts on McKinley. It went into excrutiating detail of the personal emotional feelings after the group's vicissitudes, for example the crevasse fall and death of one of their most experienced team members. Other details you wouldn't believe they survived. This is the quality of book that Left for Dead should have been - a tale of survival against the worst of odds - and where Left for Dead failed, this book succeeded in keeping the reader intrigued until the very end.

Aug 15, 2004

bergdorf goodman

so today after church i grabbed mikey and we walked over to madison and fifth avenues to do some manhattan-style window shopping. we were really curious about the high-end stuff. on a friend's recommendation, we walked into Bergdorf Goodman, which he said was the best department store in the world. Mikey, who was wearing a $250 men's wearhouse suit, tried on a $4200 kiton sportcoat - $4200 - not for a suit - just a sportcoat.

And the difference was amazing.

i am reminded of the time i strolled into la maison du chocolat, which has a nyc store on madison in the 80s, and picked up their basic chocolate bar (which cost $18, by the way.) then, on the way home, i bought a 65 cent hershey bar. i laid out the two bars and tried each of them. my wife joined me in the experiment. her response was pretty telling; "for the first time in my life, hershey sucks." and she was right.

it was useful to have mikey there with his men's wearhouse suit. it was effectively the same experiment, only this time with clothing. he took off his jacket and put on the kiton sportcoat. alexandria and i were simply amazed. he looked incredible - like a million bucks. the suit made him look slender, confident - indeed, important. and afterwards, when he put his men's wearhouse suit back on, our comment was "men's wearhouse sucks." everything that was wrong and cheap about that suit was immediately apparent. it hung on him like a loose towel when the kiton conformed to his shape. there were wrinkles. there were imbalances. it was amazing..

now my friend who recommended bergdorf is not particularly wealthy, but he also said that he can't remember the last time he wore a shirt that cost less than $100. when i asked, "for pete's sake, why??" his response was almost arrogant - "because it hangs correctly!" totally confused, i continued buying $30 shirts - because they always seemed all right to me. now that i've had this suit experience, my opinion might have changed.

i should learn to listen to him more often.

Aug 13, 2004

RIP Julia Child

I'm going to miss all the great meals she cooked for me.

She and I had a cookoff one day. Since I kick ass at everything, the food i cooked (lobster rissoto) stomped her food into oblivion. hte lobster actually came back to life, walked over to her food (some french piece of crap), stomped all over it, took a dump on it, and walked back to my dish where it promptly died again so the two of us could enjoy eating it thanks to my supreme culinary skills.

so even though i kicked her ass at cooking, i did respect her abilities, which is why I let her cook my meals when I was out kicking ass at everything. too bad the lobster didn't.

(Maddox is my inspiration for posts like this.. so though my posts are original writing, the concept is not, and I must give credit to he who truly rules, maddox.)

Aug 12, 2004

some stats

this is more for my information - i post it here for easy access. but if you're interested.. read on. they're times others have taken to get to milestones on the whitney trail.

portal to trail camp: 5 hrs
portal to trail camp: 7 hrs (heavy rain)
portal to trail camp: 5 hrs, 10 minutes
portal to trail camp: 5 hrs

trail camp to trail crest: 1.5 hours
trail camp to trail crest: 1.75 hours

trail camp to summit: 5 hours (rain)

trail crest to summit: 1.5 hours
trail crest to summit: 2 hours

portal to portal: 12 hours
portal to portal: 13 hrs (source says average is 15 hrs)

noah's ark!

remember when i posted last week about hiking backnone mountain in maryland in hardest rain i've ever seen? well, it must be a trend, because last night, and early this morning, we've had severe thunderstorms, oogles of rain, and damaging winds (it blew leaves off my basil plants. bastards!) we had a thunderstrom this morning at about 8:30 am - and morning thunderstroms are extremely rare. i've seen a tuhnder-snowstorm, also a rare occurance - but until today never early morning thunderstorms. and the rain! just as hard as backbone mountain. in fact, the only other time i've seen rain like this outside of the last two weeks is when i was working with the board of education last summer in staten island.. i'm driving downhill a road, in my 2-month old car, with about 6" of water (i'm not exaggerating here - there was literally 6" of water) flowing down the hill with me. I was amazed that I was even able to keep control of the car - it was that bad. water was shooting OUT of the stormdrains like a geyser.. and i saw cars trapped in water 2 feet deep, 100 feet from the harbor (actually the kill) that the water was flowing into.

that is how hard it rained this morning, last night, and on backbone mountain..

it was crazy.

oops, gotta go back to the machine. i'm doing more laundry today than any human being should be allowed to do in a week...

Aug 11, 2004

writing something just to write something

yesterday i heard that a friend i'm in business with might be growing back his beard. i sheeked in horror, and was relieved when i found that it was untrue. Beards. I would like to grow a beard, but two things prevent me from doing so - one being that i can't grow anything other than peach fuzz. even if i could grow something, i wouldn't do it because that lumberjack look that all men secretly envy can really hold you behind - or so i've heard all my life.

i wanted to verify some of this information and see what's out there- so i did a web search. i was astounded with some of the things i found. firstly, of course, there were lots of news articles about how beards can devastate a man's chances for success - literally! some went into reasons, others just gave the statistic - but aside from the occassional pro-beard site, all indicators were that beards keep people from trusting you and will kill you professionally no matter how clean you keep it.

now, i mentioned the pro-beard sites. sites like these are interesting phenomenons, where a social no-no is pointed out and people actually create organizations committed to actually transforming the societal impressions of whatever issue they happen to feel strongly about. the perfect analogy is this - last week, on 1010 Wins there was a story about an organization called NAAFA - the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. I came across this group about a year ago and, being fat myself, found these people to be in complete denial about their weight situation. Now, an organization like this isn't completely bad - but overall it does much more harm than good.

This person on the radio was talking about how the media (by the way - the media has become the scapegoat for everything bad about society - and because of this it is quickly becoming less significant to blame the media about anything because people don't believe it) has influenced society into believing the "lies" that being fat is unhealthy. she expanded (no pun intended) on this statement by saying that fat doesn't actually cause heart disease, diminished athletic ability, kidney failure, shortened life-span, etc., but it was actually good for you and that she loved (ready for this??) her "big healthy belly!" I'm not kidding here, folks! this was actually said on the air on the biggest news radio station in the country. And why, do you ask, is the media convincing society with the lie that being fat is bad for you? so they can be a part of the conspiracy (another concept that has lost significance) between themselves, the doctors, and the diet pill companies to sell more weight loss products.

this is disgusting.

ok, i said that NAAFA isn't completely bad. so though their premise is bad - fat people should always try to lose weight. in fact, if you're listening to NAAFA and starting to believe them, stop. be honest with yourself. you know the truth. being fat is not a good thing - and you should do what is healthy to reduce the weight - which brings me to my point. there are lots of unhealthy ways to reduce weight, and people who are considering these unhealthy ways should consider that it might be healthier to stay fat than to do what they're about to do. an extreme example is heroin addiction. yeah, it'll make you skinny, but you were better off fat. the not-so-extreme subtle examples that have invaded society are things like weight loss surgery, ephedrine use, and low-carbohydrate diets. all will make you skinny, but none are particularly healthy for either the mind or the body. but there are healthy ways of getting into shape, and all fat people should look into these and strenghten their minds in the process. for the few people who truly can't lose weight - and if you think you're one of these people, you're probably not - but if you are, you don't need an advocacy group, you need medical assistance.

what a tangent that was! maybe i'll write more about that in a future column, but this column was about facial hair. i think i made my point though.. these organizations trying to promote beard use are overlooking one critical thing - it's people's subconscious decisions to have less trust for a man with a beard, which is difficult for even themselves to influence, much less some obscure pro-beard advocacy group.

as far as my friend, i think i'm going to take the recommendation of another friend in california who takes his shaving very seriously and take him to a "shaving boutique" (god that term makes me feel gay) in the city called "the art of shaving." for $45, not only will you get the best shave you've ever had, but you'll also, for 45 minutes, feel like a man - a wealthy man - a business man - who knows what works in business and takes his image very seriously.

Aug 10, 2004

minus 148º

you know, sometimes i think i read mountaineering books because they have really cool titles that kind of capture the essence of the self-punishment of the hobby. into thin air (good book). left for dead (no good). and currently, i'm reading something called minus 148º, which is an an account of the first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley, a place so inhospitable, so harsh, that it's weather in the summer time is colder than the summit of Mt. Everest in the wintertime.

longtime readers of this blog (j/k) know that I am kicking around setting as a goal an ascent of Mt. McKinley .Under ideal conditions, it takes a three-week expedition-style trip to gain the summit. It is a huge achievement for anybody - and would be an especially challenging goal for me. An attempt to hike whitney without being in tip-top shape can actually make sense - to do the same thing on McKinley borders on madness. So a goal to hike McKinley would have to include a fitness regimine on an olympic scale - i know of one guy who ran a marathon in the hills at 14,000 feet in Colorado in preperation for a McKinley ascent - Me? I can hardly run a flat 5k at sea level.

Oh, and then there's mountaineering training and experience. Hardly anybody ever goes up Whitney in the summertime with an ice axe and crampons, or any other specialized winter gear. Well, needless to say, not only do you need all that crap for McKinley, but you also need to know how to use it, not to mention experience. Plus the whole mindset probabaly is unlike anything I've ever experienced.

Anyway, it is books like minus 148º that I can learn as much about it as possible - and my booksmarts with regard to this issue is enourmous. I can probably tell you more about the route than some people who have actually taken the route - but as far as me actually going, reading all the books in the world won't prepare me.

So, how do I plan to prepare for this trip that I'm not even sure I want to do? Well, Whitney is a start - hardly anything like McKinley but at least it'll put me at a higher elevation than I've ever been. Then there's the minor fact that it will indeed be the hardest thing I've ever done - just like McKinley will probably be the hardest thing I ever do if I do it.

Besides, it's one of the 50 state highpoints. 49 is cool, but its not the same as 50.

Aug 9, 2004


drove back from baltimore last night. left about 6pm. got home at 2:00am. why, you ask, should it take so long to drive a relatively short distance? well, there were actually three factors - an unusually long (but yummy) meal at waffle house which delayed us an hour, a quick trip to long island to pick up the baby which delayed us maybe 90 minutes, and, most frustratingly, traffic, which probably delayed us a good 2½ hours.

i know to expect some traffic when coming up the turnpike on a sunday night after a beautiful, mild summer weekend. the surprise to me is that the traffic started south (SOUTH!!!) of trenton. sitting on the turnpike, you really can't bail out past I-195 - you just have to deal with it, which would be stop and go for a few miles, 40mph for a few more miles, repeat. well, the radio, abruptly turned on at the first sign of traffic early enough to surprise the hell out of me, sounded like the apocalypse 0- an hour at the george. an hour at teh holland. just under an hour at the lincoln. turnpike is screwed. the new york thruway is screwed. the new england thruway is screwed. the lie is screwed. the long island parkways are screwed. the garden state parkway is screwed. the staten island crossings.. well you get the point. so getting into NY, which i'd have to go through to get to long island, was going to suck. i decided to get there through staten island, where I knew I would hit traffic on the outerbridge crossing, minimizing my exposure to the turnpike's traffic as early as possible. then, because i knew the west shore expressway and the staten island expressway were going to be disasters, i decided to take the streets through staten island as i learned them during my contract last summer and fall. arthur kill road, etc. it was all right, though the traffic lights in staten island have some sort of personal vandetta against me and i was ready to start chopping them down. the verrazano wasn't that bad, actually, and the BQE was pretty slow going through brooklyn. by now it's well after midnight, i'm tired as hell, the baby is still in long island, and i would have at least another 90 minutes of driving.. i wasn't thrilled.

anyhoo, today i'm exhausted. the baby decided that he wanted to wake up early - i decided that for one day he'll go hungry for an hour. i just didn't have it in me to get up and start a day yet.. i was, in a word, beat.

and i still am. my brain isn't running on all cylinders yet. i managed to go out and buy a suit today, but that's about all i've accomplished, and it's almost two in the afternoon.

in the mail today came my whitney reservation confirmation. #50,000. cool. one of my partners, i think, is overestimating the effort by telling me how much I'm underestimating it - the truth is, frankly, that we're both right. i know it's not going to be easy, but it's not a mountaineering expedition either. he wants us to bring ice axes, crampons, ropes, whatever- and i don't know if he knows how to use that stuff - i know i don't. early september on whitney is probably the best time to hike it though - new snow is unlikely, and all of the old snow would have melted by then. so i think, barring bizarre weather, that the hike will be nothing more than a walk up hill. that said, it's a really long freakin' walk up hill. 11 miles to the top, with over 6000 feet of gain. at 14,000 feet. you can read below to see my acclimization plan, but the fact of the matter is that chad is right when he says that you have to be in great shape to do it. better shape than i am in. so, why am i doing it? it's not macho bullshit, rather its an intense desire, a personal test, a realization of a goal, a progression of another goal, and a learning experience. the good news is that since the whole thing is class one, bailing out is simple - just turn around and start walkign down. today's permit came with a newsletter-style information flyer that said 17,000 people hiked up mount whitney in 2003 - so we won't exactly be alone. whitney is a pretty safe way of getting some high-altitude hiking experience with large elevation gains, long distances, exposure, and amazing views. even if i do have to turn around, it will certainly not be a loss. it will be dissapointing, but still worth it.

there is a possible 4th person coming - a business partner that i hooked up with in baltimore. he's thinking about it - and it will be great if he comes with.

Aug 6, 2004

weekend away from the rufus

hey first off lets give credit where credit's due - today is joey's 6-month birthday, and the fact that he has me as a father and hasn't run away yet in six months is a testament to his tenacity.

that said, we're running away from him - for the weekend. business in baltimore, and we're leaving the baby with his aunt in long island. poor kid. he has to spend the weekend in long island.

anyway, this being the first time my wife has been away from the baby, she's understandably freaked, and she gave me a thirty-page laundry list of things to do to prepare. so while i'm working on this thing, she gives me a call and asks me to add a few more pages to the list, i put her on hold for a second to do find something that she needed to pack. so while she's on hold, i decide to start - and finish - my packing. about 90 seconds later, i pick up the phone and inform her that while i had her on hold i just did all my packing, and everything else i'm doing today would be for her. she didn't get the joke, but felt like reminding me about something that i, sure enough, forgot. the joke's on me - it's going to take a full 2 minutes now for me to pack.

i'm not sure my car is big enough to handle all the crap thats in it..

Aug 5, 2004

california itinerary

well, we have about 20 people we want to see in the 7 days i'll have available in the beginning of my trip to california. i'm arriving in CA on august 23rd - and on the 30th i'm going to arizona to hike humphrey's peak. if you're a californian who is longing to see us, you should come with me on humphrey's - or if you don't have the guts to climb a 12,633' peak, then let me know and we'll at least get a beer at or near sea level. (:

so like i said, we're arriving on the 23rd, and on the 30th i'm going to arizona. on the 31st i'm going up humphrey's peak, and on the 1st i'm resting at the whitney portal for a summit attempt on the 2nd. on the 3rd-5th i'm going to be in las vegas on business. on the 6th i should be back in socal, and on the 7th i'm returning to NY on a flight that leaves at 7am..

shoot me an email if you want to chill.. literally at high elevations or figuratively in front of a beer.

scaring mom..

my mother doesn't like rock climbing - a kid in our neighborhood was killed rock climbing while i was growing up. it didn't faze me as much.. and apparently, joseph loves it! mountaineering, too. (:

The book he's reading is "Mountaineering, freedom of the hills" - which most people regard as the essential guide to all things mountain climbing.

Aug 4, 2004

50,000 reasons why i must hike whitney.

this evening i called to get my reservation to dayhike mount whitney, as all the camping spots had been taken. and it turns out that i am the 50,000th person to make a reservation to hike whitney. that just adds yet another reason why i must be successful on my whitney climb - 50,000 can't be a failure! there is also a geocache up there that i want to get because i have two travel bugs that i want to deposit in significant caches. there is the fact that i have to pay money to hike the mountain and i don't want to waste that money. there is the fact that the mountain is 3000 miles from home and it takes a good deal of time and expense to get there. there are my friends, coming from new york with me, who are also sacrificing a lot to be there and i would feel personally responsible if they didn't make it. and finally, there is the personal sense of satisfaction that i would lose if i didn't make it. now i'm self-aware enough to know that being turned back for whatever reason wouldn't make me a failure as a person - and i would get over it. but i would have a profound sense of dissapointment if i came back without summitting, regardless of how much i would have enjoyed the hike.

so when you have a high-altitude peak like whitney, there are basically two things you can do to prepare; and one is be in the best physical fitness possible when attempting it. my fitness is below average, but i am building endurance in the gym and on other hikes and the improvement is noticable. i will do everything i can to maximize the endurance before the hike - and losing a few pounds wouldn't hurt either. but the other thing that would really improve my chances is something called acclimization - getting used to the high altitude so your body will be prepared for the lack of oxygen, where the summit of whitney has only 60% the atmoshperic O2 that most of us get at sea level. Going straight from sea level to the summit of whitney borders on crazy because you're maximizing your exposure to a medical condition called AMS which can develop into life threatening conditions such as HACE and HAPE. (do a search if you're interested.) SO I'm doing what I can in the short amount of time available to me to acclimize - there's nothing i can do here in new york to prepare for a 14494 foot peak in california as the highest peak east of the mississippi river is mt. mitchell in north carolina which is only 6684 ft. additionally, my reservation is on september 2nd - the end of a two week trip out there. so to acclimize, i plan on hiking the arizona highpoint, humphrey's peak, which is 12,633'. I would go to flagstaff on the 30th, hike up on the 31st and then drive to whitney trailhead, where i would camp that night and rest on the 1st. my attempt on whitney will start before midnight on the 2nd, giving myself some extra time which will hopefully compensate for my fitness. it's not a perfect acclimization schedule, but probably better than average and it'll have to do. i might spend a day or two in idylwild and maybe check out san jacincto peak before humphreys, but with all the friends i want to see, i really don't see that happening.

i'm still looking for hiking partners, particularly for humphries. let me know if you're interested. if you want to hike whitney with us then go ahead and secure a permit for yourself - there are a bunch left at $15 per person. for information on how to do this go here: Be sure to ask for a dayhike permit for whitney on September 2nd. The more the merrier!!!

7-11 syndrome..

i like double gulps. 64 ounces - thats half a gallon - of a tasty carbonated beverage, usually diet pepsi. i like coke better than pepsi, but diet pepsi better than diet coke. and boy, do i have it down to a science. i have about ten double gulp cups that i keep either in the car (in queue to be used) or in the house (in queue to be washed). I keep the cups because you can get a refill of any sized drink for about a buck. at the 7-11 closest to my house its 96¢ for a refill, and i always give them a buck, usually on the way in, not the way out - if i gave them the buck on the way out, i would be obligated to stand in line. and since i'm a regular and always get the same thing - they know that when they see me to put out their hand for the dollar.

so i have this great system set up - and there's only one problem with my great system. it's going to kill me. think about it - how long can a guy live drinking a half gallon of who-knows-what chemicals every day for years? as a result, i am trying to cut back and become healthy. now life loves its petty ironies, and in this case the irony stems from the fact that on the way to the gym, which is three miles, i pass two 7-11s. each time i drive by it i feel like an addict being drawn to his drug - which actually isn't that far from the truth. the irony, of course, is that i get drawn to this drug while on the way to the gym - a place where i go to become healthy. and at the gym i put my body under certain stresses that make it crave even more the nice cold flavored water filled with toxins it doesn't recognize. today i've even gone to the point of filling a double gulp cup, complete with lid and straw, with cold water to suck on while 7-11 is drawing me towards its evil gates into a bastion of stuff that is not good for you.

i am, however, making progress. today i resisted the temptation. yesterday i was not in a temptation resisting mode, and i had two double gulps - that's a gallon of crap, kids. in fact, this week, in three days, i've had three double gulps - which is actually kind of a relapse from two weeks ago when i only had one in five days. it's still better than a couple of months ago when i was having ten a week - that's two a day, every day.. for a couple of months.

the gym is actually helping. despite the cravings induced by body stress, the healthy mindset that i get while working out, which includes visualization of me climbing big mountains, actually detracts from the urge to do harmful things to my body. indeed, yesterday in the midst of a gallon of tasty beverages i did not work out. so victory over my urges is imminent - if i can be persistent with the workouts - and perserverence, completion, and long-term goals are not exactly some of my strong points. but the great thing about working out is that the harder you work the body, the more mentally tough you get. and every day i'm getting a little better.

Aug 3, 2004

nothing like a little highpointing to cheer you up!

Be sure to check out the new trip reports on my highpointing page! Riz and I picked up three highpoints in one day: PA, MD, and
WV! Plus there are some typically wacky pictures there, too.

Hey all you CA people - I'm coming to visit ya! We're leaving on 8-23 and am effectively leaving on 9-3. For a few days before 9-3 I plan to do some hiking - Mt. Humphries in AZ, probably on the 31st, and then Mt. Whitney. Both are highpoints of their states, and if I'm successful, I'll be up to 15! Humphries is relatively easy at about 9 miles with 3500 feet of gain - going up to just over 12,000 feet. If I don't do well on it I won't even try Whitney which is almost 21 miles with 6750 ft. of gain. But if I do well on it, it'll work as an acclimization hike for Whitney, which at 14,494 feet is the highest point in the continental United States.

I am looking for hiking partners for both of these peaks. If you're interested, let me know as soon as possible because I have to secure permits for Whitney.

A test - of the emergency blogcast system

this may be a test, but why not write something anyway?

sometimes i just need to vent. yesterday i spent the entire day preparing with a meeting with my accountant. bookkeeping is not my idea of a good time, and it really wore me out, particularly since i didn't get it all done before the meeting. gee, i only had 7 months to do this. so here i am feeling shot, and a rival of mine decides to start stirring up shit with me on a message board. now i know better than to respond to these things. i know that it never works out quite the way you hope, even if you win. i know this. yet today i was not in the mood to just read crap like that and move on. and when the guy persisted after a simple innocent 'leave me alone' response, i did what i swore i would never do and did a two-paragraph response typical of your average flamewar. i feel a little better, but not really. i've still got accounting worries, business worries, and income worries. meanwhile, its the middle of summer and winter still seems ages off, so i'm just not in a great mood.

does billy joel still say "don't take any shit from anybody" at the end of his concerts?