This is mostly just a long winded thank you to Scott and Steve.
I’m two days back from climbing Mount Rainier and I’m still trying to process the whole experience. Five years ago I was depressed and weighed over 300 pounds. I lost most of the weight through a keto diet and that allowed me to start getting back into the mountains that I loved so much again. After finding TftNA while trying to figure out how to get in shape to climb Rainier I decided to go for it whole hog. My goal wasn’t just to get in good enough shape to climb Rainier, it was to get in the best shape I possibly could in six months. I know Rainier isn’t the biggest or toughest mountain out there but I figured it would be interesting to see what I could do. I started off with 2 mile jog/walks around my neighborhood. I’ve never in my life been able to run and would joke that I just wasn’t made for it but after six months I ran 11 miles without stopping. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible that felt. About two weeks before my trip I had a moment of clarity walking up the stairs to work that I was ready. I’ve never experienced the feeling of being so physically prepared for something that you can just feel it but there I was, ready.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that the climb was easy, but I never felt like I was struggling or hitting my limit. On the first day up in the snowfields above Paradise my heart rate was about 100 bpm lower than other people in my group and I spent a grand total of about 30 minutes above my aerobic threshold during the entire climb to the top (my watch died near the top so I have no idea about the descent). Other than being sleep deprived and a little dehydrated at the top I still felt strong and was able to descend confidently and safely. By the next day the only physical signs of the climb were slight sunburn and sore IT bands.
Standing in the summit crater, choked up and trying not to openly cry because of how happy I was, I realized that I started my climb in January. When I think about Rainier I’m going to think about the weekends running around Tiger Mountain, the slogs up the old Mailbox Peak trail with a 50 pound pack after work, and the seemingly endless box step-ups as much as I’ll think about my time on the mountain. After I take some time off to recover and enjoy the summer in the mountains with my friends I’m going to start training for a 50k next spring. Long term I’d love the chance to try a 100 mile race which suddenly seems possible even if it’s years away. I want to see what I’m capable of and I want an excuse to train and that’s something that I’ll never be able to thank Scott and Steve enough for. Between Training for the New Alpinism and your work here in the forums you’ve helped me start down a path in my life I never thought would be open to me.