The Ancient Historian

Ancient history, mountaineering, cycling and other outside adventures

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

Steve House ice climbing in NH

Pretty neat video posted up on the site of Steve House ice climbing up in the Whites; not my kind of climbing, but you gotta love this guy’s skills. Neat to watch.



Alan Arnette in the Huff Post today

A nice piece appeared today in the Huff post about Alan’s quest for the Seven Summits this year to raise awareness, and badly needed funding, for Alzheimer’s research. Great piece; great quest. It’s been really enjoyable following along. Denali next. Climb on Alan!

Climbing mountains

Tour de Suisse 2011Watching the Tour de Suisse this past week reminds me why I love mountains so much. The backdrop of the Alps as the mountain goats go screaming up hill is really spectacular. And the Alps really makes this race, as it does the Tour de France, although I have to confess that I love the Pyrenees more. The are not as high, but they are steeper climbs on average. Click HERE for a great site to have  to compare mountain cols in Europe,  While they are great to look at, mountains are a suffer fest, on local roads as well as watching the pros go through it. Funny enough, I am no climber. A power to weight ratio thing. It is very interesting to me how mountains play out differently in many ways on the bike as opposed to climbing them on foot, or on rope. Either way, I never get tired of the views. As usual, Graham Watson Photos ( like the above) are things of beauty.

Great stewardship for the 14 ers

I really like the work these people at the Colorado 14 er Initiative are doing for the 14′ ers. We should not underestimate how important this kind of work is. Nice to know there are so many caring people out there taking care of the mountains. Toyota thinks so too; they just gave one of their Tundra trucks to help out. Nice.



Fitness training for altitude

This has become an interest of mine for several reasons. First, I need to get myself in tip top shape, which requires not only baseline stuff but also specific workouts, hiking long, hilly trails with a heavy pack for instance. I am also interested in comparing cycling and mountain climbing. There are lots of parallels but some quite different things as well. For instance, I am always amazed at the amount calories high altitude climbers burn up in a single day-it appears from everything that I have read that mountain climbers on the big peaks at least burn far more than a cyclist on a stage at the Tour de France for example. Pretty amazing.

I like the podcasts that RMI has on their site for training for big climbs. You can have a listen here.

Climbing Mt. Washington, NH in June

I’m just back from climbing Mt Washington up in the Whites with a couple of friends. That’s the place to go if you live out East, and it is beautiful up there. Mt Washington can teach a person a lot about respecting any size mountain. Afterall, it is only 6200 feet or so, and it’s Summer. Nothin’ special, right? Well, we learned differently. We left about 8:45 AM from the Joe Dodge Lodge (run by AMC, at the lodge absolutely the nicest people around) up Tuckerman’s ravine trail. Pretty standard route, but it is not a nice flat groomed trail. It is rocky from the beginning, and has some serious pitches up. We were alone on the trail, and got into a good rhythm, passing just one group of three near the beginning and that was it all day. Nice. Well……or it was a sign? We continued up, turning  right onto the Lion Head trail after a brief stop to change into warmer gear. After about an hour we reached tree line and the rest of the climb was more vertical than horizontal. Increasingly. And then we hit the intersection of Tuckerman’s and Lion Head. And it hit. 100 mph or so winds that knocked us back. It was really howling, hurricane force, and we had rain and sleet to boot. And fog. It was not always easy to see the cairns marking the trail up. And by the way, the trail is basically a suggestion either side of the markers. If you go either side of about 20 foot band or so, you can get yourself into serious climbing. Not a problem on a clear day. But that’s not what we had. Fortunately one of us has done a lot of climbing in NH and we were pretty secure. We struggled up some pretty serious wet slippery pitches, and hit the road, and the summit in about 3 hrs 45 mins. It was so windy at the top, we could not even stand for photos, other than inside the rest house, which they were closing down, along with the road and the cog rail up because of conditions. The rangers (awesome by the way) were a little surprised to see us that day. 10 climbers total all day. Far below zero wind chill, high wind, fog and sleet. We started at about 60 F at the base. Lessons learned: climb with experienced people, over prepare on clothing. I can see how people can get in trouble here who under-prepare and who don’t respect little ol’ Mt Washington, which looked so gentle the night before as we drove in.. Fortunately for us a great driver and a van agreed to head up to take us and a couple with a dog (!) down. Down climbing in that wind and fog and ice would have been an even more serious adventure. Maybe next time. We headed into North Conway for pizza and beer, and a toast to Alan Arnette for his Everest summit.

SB ’11 with Ed Viesturs

And speaking of great mountaineers (and personal heroes) Ed Viesturs was speaking at SB ’11 in Monterey this past week. A friend of mine went to this, and made me incredibly jealous. He was representing one of his new ventures, Source 44, and the logistics behind his recent Antarctic expedition and reducing carbon footprints on expeditions. Hoping the talk will be posted somewhere.





What is it like to climb Everest?

Well, I’ve wondered about that most of my adult life, and have read just about everything there is to read. Nothing like actually doing it–that must be so like few other things. Well, Alan has posted his thoughts and experiences on his site here and they are some of the best descriptions I’ve ever read. Determination, purpose, guts, mental toughness in spades, experience of the mountain, knowing yourself intimately, a great sherpa guide. These are a few of the things I take away from Alan’s success. Number 1: Why are you there to begin with? Why does that matter? Check out this fantastic shot Alan has posted on the report of the Cornice traverse. Just incredible. Magnify it and you can see the line of climbers heading up that steep pitch, with thousands of feet of vertical exposure on either side of the 2-3 feet you climb on. Best done in darkness I am guessing.

Getting in shape for Kili

As part of my September plans to climb Kili, my first big mountain, I am planing to do a lot of serious hiking over the Summer, and of course lots of base fitness from cycling. I am also heading out to Colorado to do some 14’ers (14,000 ft mountains) with a friend to get some experience with altitude. I already  know that above 10,000 ft there are no guarantees, and your body can do some odd things. The more experience the better. Lots of celebrities have been doing Kili in recent years (even Tony Hayward of BP fame, describing some of the difficulty), so many in fact that it almost trivializes the mountain. But that would be deceptive I think. Anyway, I am looking forward to the long and continued journey of self-discovery that proper training demands, and of course, looking forward to the memories that will result. As Alan Arnette always stresses in his campaign to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research, “Memories are Everything.” I am also planning a couple of weeks of backpacking/camping on the John Muir Trail (JMT) in California. Gorgeous part of the country. I ought to be as fit as I can get by the end of August. That’s the plan anyway! I’ve also got a couple of books to write. It’s going to be a great few months. Stay tuned. And consider donating to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in Alan’s name.

Long time no post

Well, I’m back after a long absence. I’ll get the hang of the day-t0-day blogging at some point :-). I am back blogging mainly inspired by Alan Arnette and his Seven Summits quest to raise awareness, and 1 million dollars to support Alzheimer’s research. It has been a fantastic half year so far following his exploits, which are well covered by him over on his site. He’s just back from successfully climbing Everest, where he faced some very difficult challenges, at the moment out in CA for his daughter’s wedding today, and soon off to Denali. So far, he’s done Vinson Massif, Aconcagua and Everest. Inspirational stuff on many levels to say the least. I am so inspired that I am going along with Alan and IMG to Kilimanjaro in September, to learn, to watch, and to do what I can to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s research.

A lot else has happened, and I may also discuss other items related to my interests (mountaineering, cycling, outside) as well as Egypt, which has managed to have a revolution of sorts recently (and my hoped for survey project in Middle Egypt-now on hold) and, occasionally anyway, some interesting goings on in the world of Ancient History. What can I say, I have a Leave in the Fall, so time to write, to reflect, to read, to think, and to challenge myself on a few mountains.

More anon.

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