Kili Karuna #9

Happy March!

Phil Alcock, puts me through my paces at the Core Health Spa, and I shot some footage of this week’s training. Yesterday, I cut it into a montage to highlight how I’m using functional fitness techniques to strengthen my body in new, novel, and integrated ways. I’ve been on this path of training hard for nearly four years and I must admit that novelty is an important factor in keeping the hours I put in both fun and taxing.

Check out the video on my website under the Kilimanjaro updates: or on this Facebook page:

As I was editing the video, I couldn’t help notice the “dirty red string” that hangs around my neck. I know many people wonder about it and a few people get brave enough to ask about it. It’s a protection cord, a hearty piece of thick red thread. Well, actually “thread on steroids” would be a more apt description. The lama who led our puja ceremony last March at Everest base camp blessed it. The cord is thought to provide protection from all the things that can harm you on the mountain. As you know, it did very good work protecting me from the big things (seracs, avalanches, falls, storms, etc.) and not so good at the little things (bacteria and protozoa).

When I received the protection cord, I was instructed to wear it until it falls off on its own accord. I’ve had this sense that mine may make the transition off my neck in the near future (cue the spiritual woo woo music) perhaps even on the anniversary of putting it on. It’s funny because I’ll be sad when it falls off because it feels like it has become part of me and I fear somehow, that I may get hit by a runaway bus on the day it breaks off. I console myself by remembering that I have another in waiting that I can put on.

That string and I have been through a lot together and I can’t tell you the gallons of sweat it has absorbed. I put my finger through it and draw it up to hang on my nose. Seeing it and feeling it reminds me of my goal to return to Everest base camp to receive another (and hopefully climb higher on the mountain than last time).

Early this week, I found myself struggling tremendously with the decision of when to return to Everest. All of the factors were swirling around in my head like the white glitter in a snow globe. I know this is how my decisions unfold for me but I grew very impatient with the process and wanted clarity on my schedule. Funny, how that goes.

I knew I was marinating in my brine of my own mind so I was glad when a friend offered to listen as I brought all of the factors into the light of day. Freed from the limited space in my cranium, the pressure of that kinetic energy of all that bouncing thought released and I’ve got some spaciousness to wait for a clear direction and more information.

It’s nearing time to decide about what I will climb next after Kilimanjaro and that decision should probably be influenced by the date of my return to the Big E. So likely, the two decisions will be made in consort…over the next while, with (hopefully) a big dose of spaciousness and the recognition that there probably isn’t one right answer (just a whole lot of answers/options/paths/journeys). I’m struck by both how quickly time passes and at the same time, how slowly it goes. Where did the last year go? Everest season 2008 is almost on us. Then again, where did the last week go?

So, I’ll keep you posted regarding post Kili life. In the meantime, training for climbing Africa’s highest peak is right on schedule. The team is working hard and noticing strength and fitness gains from all the work we are putting in. Gear is being ordered, tested, and broken-in. Some days the emails fly fast and furious, others days folks put their heads down and try to get some work or training done. Speaking of which, I still owe myself several hours of training today so I’d best get at it!

Have a good week,


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