So It Begins…

I still sometimes ask myself, “What the hell can you possibly be thinking?” Prior to the last year – the extent of my “mountain climbing” involved a 3 hour hike in Vail Colorado (Booth Lake) in July which had resulted in a very painful learning experience (yes in the summer it can rain and snow on a mountain – don’t get stuck with just a t-shirt). So where did I get it in my mind that I both wanted to climb the Seven Summits and was possibly even capable of what is one of the most difficult challenges and feats in the world?

I don’t really have an exact answer. I’d always loved skiing and mountains but I had never climbed until I really got into it in the last year. It wasn’t something I’d always wanted to do or thought I’d particularly enjoy. But I gave it a whirl and as I got better and better I started to love it for the sake of the challenge itself. Climbing mountains isn’t necessarily fun. It’s painful…its exhausting…you question why the hell you’re doing it.

The Summit seems impossibly far-away and over days of climbing and trekking it doesn’t seem to get closer. But – then you finally make it and you feel such a sense of accomplishment – of success. A few days later – back in the comfort of your hotel and creature comforts – you even find yourself missing it and thinking about your next climb. I guess if anything I love mountain climbing because of both its literal and its metaphorical challenge. You push yourself harder and further then you ever thought was possible – you endure pain and setbacks – you think you won’t make it and that you want to quit – so when you finally make it, it’s that much more of an incredible feeling and accomplishment. In a nut shell – climbing Everest is both one of the greatest challenges you can undertake – on a literal level – and on a metaphorical level – if you can climb and overcome Everest – what in life can’t you overcome?

On a totally separate tangent – I love my job and city living – but sometimes it’s nice to disconnect from all the noise of the world – and also to take comfort in the small things in life…such as having a shower or a hot meal. I only discovered how important this is to me personally in the last year or two. Climbing in harsh and foreign environments is a way to reflect and appreciate the little things.

So here I am. After climbing smaller mountains and training extensively – I will be embarking to conquer the Seven Summits. The plan is to nail Kilimanjaro first in November of 2016 – and to finish with Everest in 2018. I also plan to complete the “Explorer’s Grand Slam” which in addition to the Seven summits involves skiing to both poles. Only around 50 people in the entire world have completed this task.

In the process – I also hope to be raising funds for The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Most people who know me know that I had a brain tumor removed my freshman year at Northwestern at Lurie’s. Dr. Tadanori Tomita operated on me and I joked at the time I’d find a way to pay him back. Well – time to “cash that check”. I’m hoping to raise $1,000,000 for the Lurie Neurosurgery program. One thing I love about Lurie’s isn’t just the quality of care – both medically and holistically – but I believe heavily in its ability to enact permanent change and results through its research and innovation. The money raised will be designated to the areas Dr. Tomita and Lurie most deem “high-impact” in the neurosurgery unit.

Well that’s all for now. I’ll be updating the blog and multimedia for this site regularly. Right now the focus is on training. As of a year ago I was in the worst shape of my life. Since then to prepare – outside of actual climbing – I’m spending 2-3 hours a day in the gym – because anything less than the best shape I can possibly be in will set me up for failure.

Later people! COWABUNGA!

– AP

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