Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bloody Nipples

Ahh! You know you had a good weekend when your nipples are raw and painful. Oops! This is a rated-G blog, so I better explain fast. My nipples were rubbed raw from my wet shirt while running in the rain. In comparison to how I felt Friday evening, this was a pain that I gladly welcomed...

After another week of 12 hour days and no running, my body and mind were wrecked, and a nasty head cold and feverishness had it's grip on me. I was scheduled to climb with Dave (a new partner) at our Gunks Fall Classic on Saturday, but couldn't see how I would pull it off. I crawled into bed at 8:30 with the blankets piled high in an attempt to burn it off with a good nights sleep. My strategy worked a little although I didn't get much sleep. Hoping a day in the sun would do me good, and not wanting to diappoint Dave, I did my best to pull myself together. I met Dave for our carpool to the Gunks and only half listened as he explained all the nuances of his Prius Hybrid during the 2 hour drive. My head was so clogged I could hardly hear, and I desperately wanted to sleep.

When we arrived in the Gunks parking lot, I realized that I had left my sandwich at home, so had no lunch. Argh! Not a great start! Dave offered me a Clif bar and I found another bar in my bag. OK, back in the game.

I was anxious to see how I would climb in such a weak, light-headed state (kids - don't try this at home). I also hadn't climbed in the Gunks in a couple months and wanted to see how the rock felt in comparison to Colorado and the DAKS. After leading an easy favorite, I decided to try something crimpy. I bouldered my way up Three Vultures and felt really solid every step of the way. I was still feeling crappy as the sun decided to hide as much as it showed itself and I kept going from cold to colder to freezing, but I was climbing well!

We did a few more classic Gunks lines and saw friends here and there. We ran into Lisa and her boyfriend Nate. Lisa is a big-time ultramarathoner and ran VT100 last year as well. This year she ran the Leadville 100, and may be doing Hardrock next year (wishing her a good lottery draw). It was a good Gunks day all around, but I was still dragging and wanted to crawl into bed. At the Gilded Otter, we waited for a table for a crazy amount of time. Dawn showed up for a beer and to chat with friends. She had pitty on my decrepid state, and offered to drive me home. I jumped at the chance to get out of there. Food or no food, I justed wanted to get home and crawl into bed. I was aching all over and it wasn't from the climbing. Dawn and I caught up on things while she drove. She talked and I listened, but mostly I slept. I tried to stay awake, but my eyes and body would not tolerate it.

After thanking Dawn several times for getting me home, I crawled into bed and hoped one more night sleep would do the trick.

I was supposed to run with Dawn at the Gunks on Sunday morning after our big campout Saturday night. Unfortunately, the rain put an end to that idea. Nevertheless, Dawn was committed to running 10 miles on Sunday and I heard her trying to coax the Goat into running with her at the West Hartford reservoir Sunday morning. I guess she figured I wouldn't make it given my current condition.

I awoke to the rain on the roof and decided to go back to sleep. I felt a lot better though, and thought about meeting Dawn for the run. I figured the Goat might bail on the run given the weather and I didn't want Dawn to run alone. She was gracious enough to get me home last night, so it was the least I could do. Besides, a run always help clear my congestion, so I thought it would do me some good.

As it turned out, the Goat did not bail on the run, so the 3 of us ran together for the first time in a very long time. I was dragging, but was happy to be out there. The conversation was light and the running was easy. I was still aching and kept blowing nasty snots out of my nose (ewww!). We took a wrong turn at one point and ended up on a new trail. It was a nice diversion.
After awhile I started feeling better and pushed the pace a little here and there.

At the end of the run, it was suggested that I should go home and take a nap. I couldn't have agreed more, and did just that after a nice hot shower. And it was in that shower that I realized my nipples were in extreme pain due to being rubbed raw by my running shirt. Owwwwwwwwww!!!!!!! Can you feel my pain???

After a day of catching up on little things and with little people (my grand daughter, Maliyah), I sit here satisfied with another great weekend. My nose is still a bit stuffy, but I feel tons better than I did on Friday night. The cool thing is that I didn't have to stay in bed all weekend to kick this cold. I climbed and ran and did everything I wanted to do, and feel better for it.

Post Script:

Goat asked Dawn and I about our upcoming goals. Dawn is running Boston in the spring, so she has a clear goal. Kevin is searching for a goal and we talked about him possibly doing a 100 miler. I have no thoughts of any goal beyond work/life balance right now.

Dawn mentioned that she would be happy to lead a 5.11 climb....she implied that it would be the ultimate and satisfy her infinitely (I can't remember the exact terms/phrasing). I chuckled to myself as I asked, "Really?" She knew the answer was "no". A short time after leading that climb, there would be another goal. Aren't we all that way? I mean, "How long can you be satisfied with a past accomplishment without starting something new?" I don't want to be like the high school quarterback reliving "Glory Days". How long can you talk about the 2008 VT100 without wondering, "What's next?"

But then I wonder...will I ever be satisfied? Do I always need a goal? Can I have a normal goal like weeding the garden or renovating the bathroom...something that doesn't require superhuman endurance or scaring the crap out of myself? What do I have to prove? Why do we need goals? Maybe my goal should just be to chill out, laugh, and spend time with family and friends.

I don't have all the answers, but I gotta believe we can have it all. We can shoot for the stars, and be satisfied with whatever comes our way. It's just a matter of playing our cards right, and keeping our priorities in order. If you have a better answer, let me know. In the meantime, I'm outta here. Gotta go do some dreaming...I hear Badwater runs an interesting race :-)

Have an awesome week!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reach the Beach 2009

Wow! It just gets better every year!

The Red Eye Runners have completed the 2009 Reach the Beach Relay, and I enjoyed this race more than any of the other 4 we have run together (and those were great as well).

From a personal fitness standpoint, I felt less prepared for this race than any race I have ever run. My mileage has dropped to less than 20 miles per week over the past few months, so I didn't expect much in terms of great times. I was, however, very excited to spend a weekend with great friends.

Reach the Beach is a relay race that travels a little over 200 miles (207 this year) from Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire to the Atlantic Ocean at Hampton Beach. Teams are generally made up of 12 people, but there are some 4 and 6 person ultra teams as well. The 12 person teams generally rent 2 large 10 passenger vans for the weekend. With 6 people in each van, we cover the 207 miles with Van 1 covering legs 1-6, 13-18, and 25-30 and Van 2 covering legs 7-12, 19-24, and 31-36. Each leg varies in length from approximately 2 miles to almost 10 miles. It's a big caravan-like party for 24+ hours with over 400 teams participating this year. You can imagine the logistics of pulling off a race like this one, and I am annually amazed at how well it all comes off.

The core crew, Captain Bill, Tim, Paul, and Ken, are all former colleagues of mine from work. They still get together for lunchtime runs, and both support and harass eachother on a daily basis. They are truly a band of brothers. Bill, Tim, and Paul's wives are part of the team: Tammy, Jane, and Flo are all members of my van (The Serenity Van) as well as Bill's two buddies from grad school, Pete and Stan (The Man). Van 1 (The F'em Van) includes Bill, Tim, Paul, and Ken as well as Tim's buddy, Rich, who runs with the group on weekends, and my good buddy, Goat (Kevin), who has been a substitute runner for the past 2 years...but I believe her has earned a permanent spot on the team now.

The race is held on a Friday-Saturday each year in mid-September, and it goes something like this...

We all meet on Thursday after work and load up the 2 vans for the drive north. We stop for a quick bite to each and then spend the night at Paul and Flo's cottage on the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee. Captain Bill provides runner introductions to get us all psyched up as we sign our waiver forms, and then gives a short pep talk. We laugh and tell stories and then head off to our respective corners to sleep. I usually sleep on the porch to enjoy the cool air and sound of the loons on the water.

I'm awoken by the sound of Pete and Stan going for their morning swim in the frigid lake (I went for a swim last year and it took me hours to get warm afterwards). We quickly re-load the vans and head off to a local stop for egg sandwiches and coffee on our way to the White Mountains. At Cannon Mountain, Captain Bill goes through the pre-race registration process as we all mill around checking out the race freebies and RTB clothing sales. There is an endless stream of super fit people doing silly things as we are all amped up for a great run. While we wait for the Captain, I usually find a couple running friends in the crowd and this year was no exception. I ran into Bruce and Mark from VT100 training, and wished them luck.

We take our pre-race photos are try to capture silly poses that will bring lasting memories. I am amazed that the women runners seem to outnumber the men this year. We head back to the van to apply the annual "Red Eye Runner" labels. Teams get crazy with decorating their vans and it's fun to see how creative people can be with a few markers and blow ups.

We head back to the starting line, and runner number 1 (Rich) shivers in the cold air as we wait for the countdown. Teams start in groups of 20 or so every 20 minutes, and we were off and running at 11:20AM on Friday. Go Rich!

After 5 years, you get into a routine. Van 2 quickly heads off to Vehicle Transition Area Number 1 and wait for Van 2 to complete their first 6 legs. We eat lunch, socialize, and try to keep the van organized. At some point, our first runner (me) starts to get ready for his leg.

My first leg this year was 7.25 miles which is about a normal run for me. Bill usually predicts our finish times for each leg, and it gives us something to shoot for in terms of results. We also try to track the number of "kills". A "kill" is when you pass another runner on your leg. In four years running, I have only been passed twice, and I did not want to add to that number this year.

With all 11 team members cheering me on, I started my first of 3 legs. Go Red Eye!

I decided to not wear a watch this year, since I lost my Garmin Forerunner and my normal running watch had a dead battery. I found it rather relaxing to not be worrying about my finish time. I ran based on feel, and after 30+ years of running, I know my pace pretty well. I know how hard a can push myself and still have something left for the next leg. The weather had been playing games with us all day, but decided to get nice for my leg. I ran the rolling 7.25 miles from Attitash ski area to Echo Lake Sate Park in North Conway trying to shed the work week with each step. I chatted briefly with a female runner as I passed her. She had a very good pace going and we surmised that we were about halfway through the leg. I passed about 5 runners on this seemingly endless stretch of road, and I kept waiting to see the turn for Echo Lake. I finally saw Cathedral Ledges (great granite crack climbing), and knew I was less than 2 miles away. With a moderate kick to the finish, I handed off to Stan and did my post-race interview with Flo. Flo records our comments after each leg, and a post-race video is provided each year. One leg complete!

Onward we pushed! At the ice skating rink, we used zamboni "snow" to fill the cooler, and Tammy was off and running on her leg. Tammy had to wear a reflective vest and headlamp as it was starting to get dark. After Flo, Pete, and Jane completed their legs, we handed the baton back to Van 1 and headed back to the cottage to catch a couple hours sleep. We are lucky the race course goes near their cottage at that point in the race.

We woke before midnight and I got dressed for my expected 2AM start time. A phone call from Van 1 confirmed they were running about 20-30 minutes ahead of schedule, so I needed to be ready to run by 1:30AM. Stan and Pete kept me company at the start while the ladies tried to catch some sleep. I shivered in the wind waiting for the hand-off from Goat. Most runners were wearing long sleeve shirts and I questioned whether my skinny body would be OK in short sleeves. Nevertheless, the temp was mid-fourties, so I knew I would be OK after a mile or so.

The Goat looked tired as he handed off to me and I wondered if he was still happy he joined the team this year. Few words were exchanged as I ran off into the dark. Most people think it's crazy to run at 2AM, but it's the leg I usually enjoy the most. This year, my leg was only 4.4 miles, and I was truly disappointed by the short duration. I decided to run this leg hard since my first leg was a bit off pace (although I was quite pleased with 6:40ish pace) considering my fitness level. After a mile or less of uphill, I cruised a long downhill with a few bumps along the way. There weren't many runners to pass, but I did manage to catch a few. It's always fun to see a headlight in the distance. After a pretty easy leg, I was pleased to see that my time was within 20 seconds or so of my predicted time. Yeah! I felt good!

After changing into dry clothes, I slept in the van for part of Stan's and Tammy's legs. Sorry guys, I needed it! Note: Stan had the toughest individual leg for our van and possibly for the race (although Rich had a mother of a leg as well). After waking, I drove the van while Flo ran and Pete prepared for his leg. We usually stop halfway on every leg to provide water/gatorade, and moral support to our runners. Flo carries her own water, so we just cheer her on when shes runs. We rolled on into the dawn of day, and Jane was running in full sunlight for her second leg. We handed off to Van 1 in the early morning, and went off to find a Dunkin Donuts for obvious reasons. After the DD stop, we drove to the next transition zone, and I found a nice spot for my sleeping bag under a shade tree. The transition zones turn into tent cities in the early mornings as people do anything they can to get some sleep. I dozed on an off as van doors slammed in the background.

Around noontime, I prepared for my leg and then stood in the porta-potty line for and endless amount of time. My last leg was 6.7 miles, and I took some Ibuprofen (vitamin I as Dawn refers to it) to ease the pain in my aching legs. Van 1 arrived, so I knew the Goat was getting close. At this point, Van 1 has completed their race, and are happy and excited to cheer us on. The beach is not far now! I take the baton, and hear my teammates cheer in the background. With adrenaline pumping, I sprint off to catch the first few runners in front of me. I know I've run this leg in the past (year 1), but don't remember all the details...I know there is a hill at mile 3 and then a big downill to a turn at mile 4, then rolling terrain to the finish. I run hard as there are many people to catch and I have no reason to hold anything in reserve. There's plenty of beeps and cheers as vans go by and people cheer on the side of the road. Everytime someone yells "Looking good", I dig down deeper for more.

Van 1 passes me as I cruise up the big hill. When I hit the big downhill, I see my Serenity Van teammates going crazy...dancing and screaming with music blaring. I had made a special request for super cheers and these guys were exceeding all expectations! It was a special moment, and I soaked in every second of it. I love this team! How often do people over 40 get to act like teenagers again? I ran down the hill with my arms over my head and my head in the clouds!

I ran onward, passing runner after runner, and admiring the beautiful farm country around me. Beauty all around me as our inspirational leader, Rich, would say...

I was so happy as I handed the baton to Stan. My leg was complete, and life was perfect!

We rolled onward toward the beach. As each runner finished their last leg, the smiles grew. You could smell the salty air, and we filled our bellies with food and laughter. We cheered Jane as she ran the last leg toward the beach. We were stuck in traffic for some time, so my teammates made a run for it to meet Jane and the rest of the team as I parked the van. It's tradition to all run across the finish line together.

The race was over, and we shared our post race meal and told stories of our final legs. On the beach, Captain Bill provided us with our t-shirts and post-race medals. We put our feet in the water, and prepared for the ride home. It was time to re-join society again.

As I pondered the weekend, I thought about why I enjoyed this race so much. These are my conclusions...

These are my friends. They have no expectations of me other than for me to have a good time. There is no pressure to do anything other than complete my leg, and they would be there to pick me up if I couldn't fulfill my task. They are interested in hearing about my life as I am to hear about their past year. It's a time to catch up with others and to reflect on life. It's a barometer for our aging bodies as we try to maintain a level of fitness. As each year goes by, the runners seem to get younger, but our finishing times remain a constant.

It's another chance for me to brag about my grand daughter too! Maliyah is awake now and ready to have some fun with GRAMPY! She hit the caps lock just then, so it's time to finish this entry.

Bottom line: The Reach the Beach Relay and the Red Eye Runners are one of the best things in life, and I am so happy that this event and these friends are in my life every year!

Until 2010....Go Red Eye Runners!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I love running! Yes, it’s Fall, the temps are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and the leaves are starting to turn. Our Reach the Beach Relay team members, the Red Eye Runners, are packing for the big race this weekend. Life is good.

It’s weird. After Vermont 100 last year, I dedicated this year to climbing, and despite working like a mad dog at my new job this summer, I managed to get in some good climbing. On Labor Day weekend, I had a great time climbing with my friends in the Adirondacks. The climbing is always hard in the DAKS, and I love every minute of it. After an incredible weekend, I felt strong and felt like I had finally returned to my old form. It was a magical weekend…as so many of the DAKS trips have been.

Running has been on the back burner. The Goat and I manage to get together about 1 day per week and then 1 day on the weekend this summer. Over the past month it’s been even less. I didn’t run at all while in Colorado, and I even think I lost my Garmin Forerunner on the trip (ouch!). I ran once with Goat since returning from Colorado, and was a bit concerned about being ready for this weekend’s race in NH.

So, I guess I forgot how much fun running can be….

I read “Born to Run” by a guy named McDougal on my trip to Colorado, and was captured by it. It’s a “must read” for any serious distance runner. The book discusses our genetic development as runners and how we are a running people and provides some good history on ultrarunning in Amercia. It also talks about how running shoes have been detrimental. Barefoot (or nearly barefoot) running is the way to go according to sources in the book. I was curious and decided I would give it a try at some point.

While I knew I needed to get a couple runs in before the race this weekend, it was hard for me to get motivated without a running partner yesterday (Goat is in Utah playing in canyons or something). So, I was surfing the internet and decided to check out AJW’s blog. Andy Jones-Wilkins won Vermont last year, and he is a great guy. He ran 3 100’s this year with his last being Leadville. His pacer at Leadville, Kevin Sullivan ( I think he was second at VT100 last year), took a video of Andy during the race. In one clip (, Andy is puking his guts out. As I watched it, it brought back memories from my Vermont race. The sick thing about it is that it got my psyched to run! Is that sick or what? I mean it got my animal instincts going like you wouldn’t believe! If you get a chance, check out the clip…not for the puking…but for what Andy does afterwards. He has such a positive attitude, it blows me away! Ultrarunning is as much a mental challenge as anything, and that is one reason Andy is so darn good at it!

So, I started running at the reservoir and felt like a slug. My right ankle starting hurting from the start, and I was afraid that too many days off had made me susceptible to injury. I ran on, hoping things would improve. The first 4 miles felt like work, and I hoped my super powers would kick in at some point. Keep your head up, run with good form…run like the animal that you are. I peeled off my shirt, and let the beast come out. Damn…it feels good to be a runner again. The last 3 miles were sweet, and I had a big smile inside. Yeah, I’m a runner!

Today, I met Dawn for some early climbing. It was nice to see Dawn, but I honestly wasn’t into the climbing. After Colorado and the DAKS, toproping in CT is hard to get psyched about… I was thinking about running. Dawn talked about training for Boston and I was happy for her. I wanted to run.

Afterwards, I went for a run on a flat trail in Farmington. It’s single track through fields and around a river, then onto a bike path. I ran easy as it was my first back-to-back run in awhile. It was pleasant, and I thought how cool it would be to try barefoot running. With about ½ mile to the car, I decided to peel off the shoes and go native. I ran on a hard packed single track section around a corn field, and was amazed at how good it felt. I was moving much faster than I expected. A lady walking on the path said, “That looks like it feels good!” and I acknowledged that it did indeed feel good. Flashes of Zola Budd (remember her) in the Olympics ran through my mind. I was feeling great!

Then, I hit the crushed stone/cinder path. Ouch! It was like running on needles. My feet are as soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom, and the stones were having their way with me. I opted to run in the grass next to the path. This worked well until I realized a lot of people were walking their dogs along the path, and I guessed I was probably running through dog poop. Ewwww! Gross! So much for running like an animal! Time to get a pair of those Vibram Five fingers. Have you seen them…they look like rubber gloves for your feet…run like a frog, my friends!

Anyway, I finished the run and felt great. I really think that doing a little barefoot running is a good thing to strengthen your feet and improve your stride. Give it a try!

Looking forward to seeing my friends at RTB this weekend. It should be a blast!

It’s good to be a runner again!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Petit Grepon

After two great days of climbing at Lumpy Ridge, Alex and I were ready to tackle our main objective, Le Petit Grepon, an ultra classic 1,000 ft. pinnacle in Rocky Mtn. National Park. We were both climbing well, and this climb was well within our range, but we wanted to be sure to make good time to beat out any potential thunderstorms. I had set out to do the Petit about 5 years ago with my partner, Mark, but Mark was having altitude issues. We opted for an easier climb, the Sharkstooth, which has a great view of the top of the Petit. We saw several parties top out on the Petit as we struggled to stay electronically neutral as lightening struck all around us. It was a terrifying adventure, my first alpine ascent, and I was addicted. I pledged that I would come back and do the Petit at some point, but I always wondered when that day would come.

Alex and I both get a little edgy before tackling a big climb, and I had to chuckle as we both negotiated a 1:30AM start time. Alex wanted to get up at 1:30 and I figured 2:00 would give us plenty of time to get to the trail head, hike in the 4.5-5 miles, and start up the climb by daybreak. In the end, I conceded, and we were hiking in by 2:30AM. Alex was flying down the well groomed trail, and I was wondering what we would do at the base of the climb at 4AM. As it turned out, we ended up getting lost a couple times searching for the cathedral spires in the dark. We plodded past what we thought was Sky Pond a couple times, and finally started to see the outline of the Cathedral Spires in the dark. I got excited at the sight, and immediately focused in on the peak I knew was the Petit.

We traversed through the talus slope without much trouble, and easily found the base of the climb. We had agreed to simul-climb the first 2 pitches, and Alex asked if I wanted to take the lead. Since this climb was my idea, I was really anxious to jump on the lead. We had read though the description the night before, and I practically had the climb memorized from years of looking at it, but I could not remember which pitch was the crux. Regardless, I just wanted to start climbing, so off I went.

After 200 feet of easy climbing (Pitch 1 and 2), I arrived on top of the chockstone in the big chimney. The climbing was fairly easy, but I was still a bit cold as the sun was not helping much at this point. We noticed 2 more climbers approaching the base of the climb as Alex started to lead the 3rd pitch. Pitch 3 and 4 were uneventful, and I thought pitch 5 looked more like 5.8 climbing. Alex came up and led pitch 5 without any trouble, and as I followed I though the pitch was fairly easy for 5.8. In fact, I thought the rest of the climbing should be easy if this was the hard part. Famous last words...

Up to this point, the climb was very easy to decipher, but now ALex and I were unsure where to go. I asked Alex to read the description as I prepared to lead the next pitch. Alex read, "200 feet of wandering and sparsely protected climbing". Ugh, I thought, as I remembered him reading the same line the night before...I figured I would end up with this pitch. I'm usually pretty good with run out pitches and am generally pretty bold, but the pucker factor increases with altitude, and here I stood on an exposed pinnacle, over 1,000 feet above Sky Pond where the altitude was around 12,000 feet. The air was thin, and my balls were shrinking!

Nevertheless, I remained stoic in front of my partner...the last thing you want to be is a wuss at 12,000 feet. So, off I went trying to stay "30 feet from the arete" (outside edge of the wall). I wandered all right. I wandered left, then right, then left, then waaaay right, and over a roof, and then did a really cool traverse back left. The protection was OK, but after 200 feet I had very little active pro left. I stood on a ledge with an ad hoc rappel station tinking this was the end of the pitch. Alex's next pitch started with a nice finger crack, and I was looking at one directly above me. The problem was that the book indicated that the belay ledge was supposed to be the size of a "pizza pan". This ledge was much bigger. We also thought we were supposed to be back on the south face at this point, and we were still on the east face. Ugh! I agreed to press on to see if I could figure out where we were.... After leading the 40 foot crack with 2 pieces of gear, I looked up to see easier climbing, but no obvious place for a belay station. I was standing on a ledge the size of a pizza pan, and figured I had enough pieces left to build an anchor.

I brought Alex up, and we both realized we were in the right place and I had climbed the first half of Alex's pitch as well. So, Alex combined what was left of his pitch with the last pitch and we topped out with big smiles on our faces. Yee haa! I stared up at the Shark's Tooth as if to say, "Hello, old friend, it's been awhile!". We took some pictures, and quickly prepared for our descent. After leading the wandering pitch, my brain was fried, so Alex took the lead on finding the rap stations. After two hours of rappelling, we were back on solid ground, and regrouped for the hike out.

Life was good, and we chatted on the walk out. The view was much better than the approach in total darkness, and we passed many tourists having their big adventure for the day. It rained for 20 minutes or so, and then it stopped as we approached the last mile. With about 0.3 miles to the car, I asked Alex if he wanted to race to the trailhead. Alex is always up for a challenge, so with full 35 pound packs, we sprinted like little kids in a 100 yard dash. Alex is wicked fast on technical descents and went off trail to pass an elderly couple. I scooted past behind him, but could never make up the lost time. Eventually, we stopped as we approached the parking lot and smiled and laughed. The perfect end to a great climb!


Alex received an email from his wife, Olga, that evening indicating that she was in the hospital. Alex quickly made plans to leave that evening to return to Russia. We spent the rest of the day doing the tourist thing in the park, and then headed over to my cousin Paul's place for a great salmon dinner. Afterwards, I drove Alex to the airport in Denver.

I haven't heard back from Alex on his wife's condition, but am hopeful that she is well. Alex is moving to Seattle when he returns to the states, so I will not be seeing him as often.

Since Alex is a regular reader of this blog...

A great climbing partner is hard to find. You trust your life to this person, and share a lot over time. It's been a great pleasure, my good friend. I have the greatest respect and admiration for you, and wish you all the best in future adventures. I hope we can manage to rope up again in the future. It's been a blast! Thank you for some great memories!

All the best!