I am 55 years old. Even though I started climbing when I was 14, for the vast majority of my life, I never did anything too strenuous, or big. I climbed Pocotapetl when I was 14, and Aconcagua when I was about 24; and I was always an outdoors enthusiast. But it wasn’t until 2011, a year after I left my corporate career at SAP (a global business software company), that I decided to take on climbing in a much more formal way. In the three years following my departure from SAP, I was fortunate enough to make quite a few successful expeditions. I climbed Pisco, Huascaran, and Artesonraju in Peru; Pequeño Alpamayo, Huayna Potosí, and Ilimani in Bolivia; Ama Dablam in Nepal; and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania—a climb for which my wife and I raised awareness for breast cancer. In 2015 and 2016, I didn’t do any expeditions. So for 2017, finally facing my age and realizing I wasn’t getting any younger, I committed to doing an 8,000-meter peak. I chose Manaslu. Unlike many of my other climbs, I decided to train for this one in a more structured way, since 8,000-meter peaks are a bit more serious of an undertaking. Per the recommendation of a good friend of mine, Hector Ponce de Leon (Mexico’s current top mountaineer), I went to Denali with two of my three sons to train at elevation and harsh conditions. We did not get to the actual summit because of bad weather and a lack of time. But I felt we had learned enough after three weeks on the mountain. The other thing I did when coming back from Denali was I called up Scott Johnston. I had been using his and Steve’s book Training for the New Alpinism for a few years at that time as the basis for my training, but I felt I needed a more formal push for Manaslu. Scott and I had a 1-hour phone call. There wasn’t much time left before the trip to the Himalaya, but he helped me set up a Custom 8-Week Training Plan. He was also very keen on talking about my diet. Particularly, he introduced me to fasted climbs. In this, you get your body more used to consuming the calories you have in your fat than the carbs you have recently eaten. That was very new to my training, and very productive. I was feeling very fit when I left for Manaslu in the beginning of September 2017. I trekked in with my wife over five days, then joined a commercial expedition led by Arnold Coster. I was surprised to find that Base Camp was tremendously comfy! I had a huge individual tent with a thick mattress. There was a dining tent with a heater, comfortable chairs, a separate cooking tent, another big tent for communications, and oxygen. There was running water. You could even get a hot shower! On top of that, I also discovered that Sherpas do most of the work. You don’t carry fuel, a stove, or even food (except for your snacks), so they have twice the weight you carry. They do the work of setting up the camps, melting snow, making meals, washing the dishes. They even climb the route before you, fixing ropes! It was very different from my previous climbing experiences. We only did two acclimatization rotations. On our second one there was absolutely no wind—it was dead calm. I was in just a long-sleeve baselayer, and I think I was close to having heat stroke! I drank something like 6 liters of water that day, and put snow on my head just to keep cool. We eventually cut our rotation short due to a big snowstorm coming in just above Camp 2, and returned to Base Camp.
You May Also Be Interested In:
Talk to a coach
Phone consults starting at $60 for 30min