Road Trip

Happy 2010 Olympics!

Another seven doors are open on the Everest advent calendar and I’ve had a good trip out west.  After months of wrangling with various bureaucracies, it finally worked for me to pay a visit to the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) in Greeley, Colorado.  I met Chris Mullen in Little Rock, Arkansas at the Association of Experiential Education conference two years ago.  He’s Director of Student Engagement at UNC and he seized on an opportunity to bring me out for a speaking event.

In hindsight, I realized this was my first presentation to university students outside of Memorial University and AEE conferences.  I was in a mood to channel my inner stand-up comedian and gave the students an introduction to things Newfoundland and things Canadian.  Since Colorado is a ways south of the border, Tim Horton’s isn’t a daily ritual and so I had to introduce Velma as a cousin of Dunkin’ Donuts.  The room was full of hockey fans and I risked their vengeance to predict that Canada would win gold in both men’s and women’s hockey.  The audience forgave me later when I invited them all to come up and hold my Olympic Torch.  I left Colorado with a wonderful banner decorated with signatures and well wishes from many of the attendees.  I will hang it where I can see it often in the next few weeks.  Thanks Chris for all your hard work!

As part of my stay in Colorado, I had the privilege of meeting Alan Arnette in person. We met for lunch and I appreciated Alan’s sharing of his experience over 7500 metres, his perspectives on my preparations, and his attendance at the evening’s event.  He and I have followed each other’s climbs over the past four years.  Alan, (, in honour of his mother, is climbing the Seven Summits to raise one million for Alzheimer’s research.  Alan also does an excellent job in covering Everest climbing seasons.  His website is an excellent source of up-to-date information on all Everest expeditions and of fascinating interviews of Everest climbers.  Alan even has an I-Phone app for tracking expeditions this year–download it today so you don’t miss any news from the mountain!  Thanks Alan for all of your hard work in sharing Everest expeditions with the world.

After Colorado, I flew up to Edmonton to spend some time with my family, make another pilgrimage to Mountain Equipment Co-op, and watch lots of Olympic coverage.  One of the highlights of this visit west was going wall climbing with Rayne and Xander.  I loved belaying Rayne as she climbed to the top of several climbs smiling and waving down to “Auntie” from above.  Rayne is taking a weekly climbing class and she was so proud of her ability to put on a harness, tie a figure eight knot, and introduce Xander to the gym.  Xander was rather taken with the bouldering cave and he might have a future as a luger since he loved sliding down the cave’s padded floor.

After a big afternoon of climbing, Rayne, Xander and I cuddled while cheering on the Canadian women in the big gold medal game.  That night, Mike and Shawn headed off to a movie and I had a recent “Ring of Fire” challenge trying to get the kids to sleep.  Shawn says she’s always willing to contribute to my mental training.  As I’ve watched the Olympics, I’ve taken inspiration from so many athletes–their intense training and focus, their pushing through physical and mental barriers, and their deeply moving stories of tragedy and triumph.  I feel like one of the things I am packing into my big duffel bags is as much inspiration as will fit!

As I am typing this, my mom and I are watching the women’s gold medal curling game.  Both my mom and dad played the game for years and I played in high school as well.  Being back here, I miss my dad even more than usual but I’ve packed up a few of my dad’s tools and things to take home.  On my next visit to Marble Mountain, I’ll be making tracks on a pair of my dad’s skis.  We had lunch with Oma yesterday–she brightened with my visit but she has been so missing my dad.  In reality, all of us are missing our Heinz!

Speaking of inspiration, I’m hoping my expedition will motivate you and others to be more physically active!  In partnership with Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador (RNL), I am pleased to announce “Step Up to the Summit Challenge.”  The challenge begins March 18th and continues through May 31st.  RNL’s Small Steps, Big Results website allows individuals and teams to track a wide variety of physical activity by converting all to a number of steps.  I’ll be reporting in on my number of steps per day in my daily updates and I’m hoping you will climb the mountain along with me.  Sign up your team for the challenge today at

Have a good week,


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