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Posts Tagged ‘climb’

I Just Want to Stop the World Here for a Moment to Say, “Wait, did that really happen?”

And I’m neither referring to NASA landing and operating 5 rovers on Mars (not to mention a helicopter), nor am I referring to the fact that an Airbus 350 weighing 620,000 lbs. at takeoff can stay airborne for 19 hours and fly 9700 miles. While I marvel at these stellar (and interstellar) achievements, what I am referring to specifically is something even more miraculous and decidedly earthbound. It’s probably the most miraculous feat of forever and for all-time. What I’m referring to is free soloist Alex Honnold becoming the first human to summit the 3200′ sheer granite face of El Capitan. And he improbably accomplished this without benefit of any mountaineering equipment except for a pair of really good rubbery shoes and a keen sense of which way is up.


I’m not sure Alex Honnold  understands the gravity of his situation. Alex shown here defying every one of Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion.

I use the term “the first human” advisedly because even though I’ve witnessed Mr. Honnold ascend El Capitan in the movie Free Solo, I still don’t believe it’s humanly possible to do what he did. Clearly his status as “human” is in question. Even hybrid human Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly” would have had difficulty traversing this unforgiving eminence. And Honnold made his ascent in only 3 hours and 56 minutes – or about as fast as it takes Elon Musk to manufacture 150 Teslas. So perhaps you can understand why, when I consider Mr. Honnold’s feat, I say, “Wait, did that really happen?”


Yes, it really did happen and there is much to say about this superhuman achievement. But words will only conjure a mental dimension of this experience and that’s why I’ve provided some video: Free Solo. It is a worthy exploration to comment on and marvel at this spectacle of indescribable derring-do. And as I share my sense of unalloyed awe at Alex’s outrageous feat and his courageous feet, I realize this endeavor is just business as usual for our uniquely wired Alex. He is not doing this with feigned swagger and false bravado. To Alex, this anti-acrophobic act is not some kind of flashy derring-do. It’s just…do. Read the rest of this entry »

Just Because It’s There, Doesn’t Mean I Have to Climb It: On Not Climbing Everest

They paid to do this. A mule train of mountaineers searching for their peak experience on Mount Everest.

Mount Everest is 29,000 ft. tall, but assaulting the summit actually begins at Base Camp which is at 18,000 feet. So in reality it’s an 11,000 ft. climb. But please, do not think I’m trying to diminish this redoubtable feat. Far from it. Successfully summiting Everest involves a mighty confluence of endurance, planning, money and oxygen. And let us not forget that even though Base Camp is at a lofty 18,000 ft., airplane oxygen masks drop down at 14,000 ft. – that is, “in the unlikely event of cabin depressurization.”


And not too diminish the majesty of Mount Everest; but due to a geologic quirk in the earth’s Jello-ey innards, Everest is not even the highest point on earth. That distinction belongs to Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, sticking up at a pedestrian 20,703 ft. So even though Mount Everest has a higher cardinal altitude, Chimborazo has the distinction of being the “highest mountain or point above Earth’s center,” because Earth is not a sphere. It’s an oblate spheroid and bulges in certain areas (like most of us do) rendering Mount Chimborazo “closer” to outer space than Mount Everest.

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