A New Altitude

Good Evening,

In an unusual moment, I am lost for words. In the scale of human tragedy, this week’s earthquake in Haiti has given me (and most folks I know) an occasion for pause, for prayer, and for sorting out how best to be of service/help. It is hard to wrap our minds around the amount of devastation, pain, and suffering. I take solace in hearing of and reading the stories of courage, compassion, and generosity that get sifted and shared from the rubble of such a time.

I had a good week of training. Things seem to be progressing on schedule and the long hours of planning, logging, and activity seem to be beginning to pay dividends. Bryhanna Greenough’s interview for The Scope came out on Thursday and I was so pleased to be featured on the cover. Kevin Coffey did an excellent job with the photographs–we’d had fun looking for a “mountain” on Signal Hill. You can find the article at http://thescope.ca/features/to-the-summit

I promised some more information about hypoxic training. In light of the absence of words, I’ve put together a photo essay that documents some of the realities of high altitude living and how hypoxic training works. Basically in a nutshell (and highly simplified), as you ascend, the atmospheric pressure declines. The amount of oxygen is always the same (approx. 21%) but the molecules of O2 get further apart as the pressures lessens making it harder to get as much oxygen in each breath. At Mount Everest base camp, it is as if there is half as much oxygen as at sea level while at the summit, it is like there is 32% of the oxygen of sea level.

In a reduced oxygen environment, the body makes a bunch of physiological changes to cope with the reduction in available oxygen. You breathe deeper and faster, your heart pumps faster and harder, and the ph level of your blood changes. If you ascend slowly enough, your body can change enough to keep up, if you do not, you may suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness.

What the hypoxic training does for me is mimics this travel to high altitude. It allows my body to make a few changes in advance and to increase my fitness. The trick, since life at high elevations stresses our bodies, to find the right balance between time at altitude and time at sea level. Some people have trained hypoxically too much before climbs and then bonked on the actual climb.

So, since a picture is worth a thousand words, and since I am a bear of few words this week, I invite you to click on this URL that will take you to the photo essay I put together: http://bit.ly/89RKbT

I spoke at Crescent Collegiate this week to 600 junior high and high school students. It was fantastic to be back in a school and I look forward to a few more school visits this week. It’s a 90% training week that I will push into the first four days to make room for road trip to the Western part of the island for some school talks and outdoor training.

Have a good week,

TA

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