The Hemoglobin is Definitely Gone

Greetings on the Cusp of December,

When I thought about writing you last week, I would have entitled the update, “The hemoglobin is gone.” Since I didn’t get it together last week, as I skated on the ice this week, I thought the title of this week’s update should be, “The hemoglobin is definitely gone!” How do I know this?

Hockey is much harder work now than when I first returned. I always expect that the first few games will be tough-but they are relatively easy because of the extra red blood cells racing around my bloodstream from acclimatizing to altitude. I didn’t even breathe hard the few first games. Today on the other hand, the hemoglobin is really gone, I was sucking wind, and my short burst anaerobic fitness had not built back up yet. I’ve often heard that it takes half as long to lose the extra hemoglobin as it took to make it. So I was on Pumori for nearly a month so I came home to a two-week “blood doping” hockey holiday…but the holiday’s over and the hard work begins again.

Just as it takes awhile to lose the extra blood products I make at altitude, it takes awhile to settle back into life and routines. Since I don’t have a climb immediately following Pumori, there has been time to kick back and do things like watch movies, go for walks, clean the house, nest, etc. All of which get pushed aside in the training for and lead up to big climbs. I’m not currently training and the mental break is great–living with so little discipline has been a treat. I’ve been presenting quite a bit and getting ready for next semester’s teaching.

As I’ve presented, folks often ask if I’ll go back to Everest. Part of my goal in climbing Pumori was to spend a month looking over at Everest to make a decision about a second attempt. I presented to my photo club last Thursday and as I prepped my photographs, I realized just how many photos of the “Big E” I had taken. In the past I always answered the question, “Yes, I want to attempt it again.” This week I’ve been saying, “I’m standing on the edge of a diving board over the abyss of that decision and think I’m getting ready to jump off into the insanity that is raising the money for, training for, prepping for, and committing to a second try.” I haven’t jumped off yet but am inching closer.

I knew I wanted to return home and settle back into “easy” (read non-training) life before making the decision since such a decision will shape many of the moments in the next eighteen months. I didn’t want to make the decision when surrounded by beautiful Himalayan giants and eager teammates, but in the quiet moments of my daily life. I didn’t want to make the decision in the midst of transition, but after some time of reflection, listening, and telling. In telling the story of my Pumori climb, I see that I got what I went for and I continue to cherish the many lessons that have come my way via high places. So stay tuned for updates on how and when and if I jump off the big springboard towards a 2010 second attempt.

As the countdown to the Christmas season continues, there has a renewed interest in my book as folks are seeking gifts to give. I enjoyed signing books at both presentations and at last weekend’s craft fair. About once a week, I get an email or two from folks who’ve read the book and I enjoy hearing what the book invited them to think about. As I sat with Donna Francis last week, we tossed around the idea of me writing a children’s book so I’ve been having fun in my mind thinking about storylines and characters.

I’m here in St. John’s for another three weeks and then head west for a week with my family and then a week of ice climbing in Canmore. I’m taking a course to make sure my ice climbing technique is as good as I can make it…continuing to build the “toolkit” for 2010.

Hope you’re doing well-drop me a line to let me know what you’re up to…thanks for coming along!


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