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.