Friday, August 24, 2007

Maybe I need a new obsession

Well a different additional one that is. I love to climb things and I grew up backpacking so that's one way I did it, but I never really set out saying this is what I want even though I specifically went back to it after taking a long break from it.

But the reality is that:
1. I get altitude sickness really easily
2. It's hard to justify backpacking as being very good on your body

1. I've been reading a lot about AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness - use Google, there's a ton of refs on it). And the reality is that if I wanted to continue to do mountaineering without being ill all the time I'd have to learn to stick with the limits of not going up more than 1000' in a day (from my experience I can do 1500'), and that's just horribly impractical especially if you work for a living. I like mountaineering but I could get a lot of skiing or biking done in the 4 days that it would take me to go up Mt. Whitney without being ill. I know it's contrary to the idea that you should just enjoy the mountains, but reality does assert itself eventually and I think about all the other fun things I could be doing while I wait around for my body to acclimate. I will continue to do it every so often but I think I'm really going to refocus on rock/ice climbing, skiing, and perhaps kayaking or swimming or skating or mtn biking or something else entirely.

2. There's always been this idea that you should be comfortable carrying around 1/3 your weight and that it's something you should work towards (sort of like a fitness holy grail). Trudging up the Mountaineer's Route I was mentally doing the math and realized that in my case that's like suddenly gaining 50 pounds (ok, my pack was 44 lbs), and it was like instantly becoming 200 pounds which can't possibly be good for one's joints (mine were ok, but I could feel them working harder). I now have a very real reminder that if I want to remain healthy that I should never weigh 200 pounds as that would be too much for my frame That lesson became all the more clear on the very strenuous downhill that had large downsteps - and I did have trekking poles which I made heavy use of.

I asked Terri "So backpacking really isn't very good for one's body is it?" She responded by saying how emotionally good for her it was to get a few days away which all I could say back was: "So it really isn't very good for you huh?" She laughed, but pointed out how important the emotional aspect was. Well maybe to her. I like the physical challenge of climbing. I do love the views, but I really don't have a compelling need to escape humanity, or a compelling need to suffer - at least in this way. :) Maybe I find it easier to escape humanity as I'm often alone exercising in situations where I probably shouldn't be by myself (like when I crash my mtn bike and get a concussion or just fall running and rip my knee open and have to stumble a mile down Mt Tam - so I need more supervision than I get - I'm pretty good at misadventure unfortunately.)


Elf said...

And it's looking like I might actually make my plan to hike down into Havasu Falls next year, and we're trying to decide whether to backpack and camp or do the floor-of-the-canyon hotel thing, which is very pricey. And I have Back and Knee issues. Backpacking even a sleeping bag plus water doesn't sound appealing to me, let alone, say, clothing, food, utensils--my brain tells me that I shouldn't be doing that, and my other brain (two is sometimes convenient) tells me that I used to do that all the time so what's the big deal and anyway I still own all this backpacking gear so why am I keeping it if I'm not going to use it?


Ellen said...

Well if you do the backpacking option you will know whether or not to keep your backpacking gear. I often use personal suffering as a way to make decisions.