Mountains are indifferent to whether you climb them. And weights care not whether you lift them. But they share something – the ways in which we interact with them can lead to sweating, to despair, to questioning our sanity, and paradoxically, to experiencing the high moments of Life that defy description. The moments you alone can give yourself. For me, both endeavors (climbing and lifting things) have come to mean a foundation and family at 212 Health and Performance. Oh yeah, both activities also require massive infusions of protein & coffee. But I digress.
My story begins, “I was born and raised in Missouri”. —insert condolences here— Dad was an accountant, my Mom a teacher, and they attempted to rear my kid brother and me. Ha! Our chief exercise was fishing with Dad. My Mom did something called yoga - it looked painfully impossible. Otherwise, there was P.E., an ill-conceived notion (mine) about playing high school football, and fencing. In short, I was not an athletic kid. Perhaps the most revealing thing about young me? In an effort to avoid being employed by Mom and Dad, I’d often be found tramping around in the deepest parts of the woods.
College, then marriage, then grad school, then birth (two boys), then post doc, then first faculty position, then divorce brings us to my mid-thirties. During this whirlwind jaunt through adult life, were marginal efforts to maintain fitness, but the “career path” (Professor and Researcher) could be achieved with next-to-no fitness level. And leather patches on my elbows to boot (not my style, AT ALL). My gym? Ha! As a half-time single dad, my boys and I were found tramping around in the deepest parts of the woods.
Then, mountain biking!!! Which led to a decade-long twisted love affair with a sport that injured me more than I care to remember. At 45, I hung up the fat tires, searching for something survivable. A few trips to the Sierras later, the verdict was clear — I merely needed to leave out the word biking, and I would have something I truly enjoyed that was sustainable. Climb on!
At the ripe age of 54 I joined my first gym, a “cross-fit place”, called 212. I soon learned that calling it this is very poor form. Health and Performance - that truly sums it up! I’d climbed a few mountains when I joined in 2016 to train with Colin, who was also involved in climbing/outdoor activities. I saw no reason why this couldn’t help. I had no idea how much it could hurt...hurt SO good.
Health? Over my three years at 212, I’ve climbed over 200 mountains ranging from 4,000 to 14,000 footers (14ers). In all seasons. I have become an instructor in glacier-travel and crevasse rescue for AMC, ice-climbed, finished the 115 highest peaks in the Northeast, and nearly all of the highest peaks of the Colorado Rockies. Mountain climbing at this level would have been impossible, for me, without the training and encouragement of the 212 family. Remember, I would never have called myself an athlete. Too much other time-consuming life stuff going on to have that on my CV. Are you thinking, “I couldn’t do that because of Fill-In-The-Blank” explanations? Nope. Here were a potential list of my “issues” beyond just life happening (ages in parentheses); crushed L leg (car accident, 5), destroyed R ankle MUCH-hardwear installed (football, 15), R hand damaged almost removed at wrist (factory work, 18) –lengthy hiatus- full shoulder separation no surgery (mtn biking, 38), C5-C6 herniated disk plus repair (mtn biking, 39), and ruptured biceps tendon (training, 54). Add blind as a bat, literally, until LASIK at 53. Lesson- If I can, you can. 212 variety Health, no excuses, no limits!
Performance? I successfully summited Cliff Mountain (third attempt) in the Adirondacks for a winter finish of all 46 peaks there in January 2017, two days after successfully rupturing my biceps tendon. Following that climb, bicep surgery, and a 6-month recovery, luck strikes again tearing my hamstring during a long approach to two Colorado 14ers. I’m not going to lie, there were tears. After one painful decent off the hill and one text consultation with Colin complete with pictures (OK... he advised a rest day), I summited three “easier” 14ers in the next three days. For me, this is typical 212 Performance! Ask me how training at 212 potentially saved my life white-water rafting (which I vowed never to try).
Recently, my long-term relationship ended abruptly. A mountain that I could not summit via the route I’d chosen. In fact, I’d fallen into a deep crevasse. It was devastating. Rather than letting me dangle, the folks at 212 pushed me to stay focused on my goals, push even harder to gain that extra degree, and climb up and out. 212 Health, again! I couldn’t have asked for truer support… and I’m in better shape, mentally and physically, for the mountains of life than ever before. And, following the lead of coaches Colin, Sean, Kerry, and Steve, I’ve embraced a shining future. For my head.
What next? Trying to get one degree better at 57, at 212, every day, week, & month. Finishing qualification to become a Class I trip leader/guide for AMC. Finishing the NE115 list of mountains - in Winter (@ 88/115). In November, participating in (read...surviving) the Trans-Pecos Ultra six-day 168mi stage race in the Chihuahuan desert. Finishing all 14ers in the Colorado Rockies (at 45/58). Oh, and finish writing a book, “Mountains of the Moon” based on my odd life, the peaks and valleys.
Whatever you do 212 Family, wherever you are on your mountain in life, climb on!!