Monday, August 13, 2012


The view from the top is spectacular!

Aiguille du midi cable car - Panoramic Mont-Blanc Gondola
I went to a dinner talk at a meeting (SMASH 2007) about  alpinism, which I gathered to mean "obsessed with mountains."  In the shadow of the Alps, I realized why mountain climbing is so revered when so many great peaks appear so near.  I've often thought that it's man's battle with nature that defines all the sports I respect.  When you see a wave, ride it, a channel, swim it, a mountain, climb it, a continent, bike it!

Skyride in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
I've been on some neat cable-cars besides the one above to Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix, France in the Alps.  I've been on the Skyride down Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, Canada. We actually only took that one in the downward direction.  

In Colorado, I took a free Gondola ride during the Blues and Brews Festival.  Telluride and Mountain Village are connected by a scenic gondola. The 13-minute ride is part of residents' "commute."  I remember singing with a bunch of strangers.  Then again, maybe I was the only one singing.

The Sugar Pine Chair Lift from the "Top of the Notch" restaurant to Manker Flats Campground (where we were parked) saved my feet from getting totally shredded.  Hiking to the top of Mt. San Antonio (a.k.a. Old Baldy) was fine, but I gotta' admit I was running out of steam coming down.

Telluride, Colorado, United States
So lately, we've had a summer pass to the Palm Springs Tram, which I love because we've been hiking at altitude during these hot summer months in Southern California.  The thing I don't love about taking the tram to a trailhead, is that our dogs can't go with us.  

To get to the point of this post, we overheard a group of regulars on the tram discussing which peaks they've "done" and which they have left to do before they die.  We were there in town to celebrate the death of our friend, who passed away at the age of 35.  I couldn't help but think this group of people were addicted to training at low oxygen.  The mixed group of about 6 men and women were various adult ages and I wondered how many of them would exhaust their "bucket list" in their lifetimes. See also

What would cause someone to become hooked on climbing? We have a classic "adreneline junkie" who is an all-around thrill-seeker but is this something else?  Is there something different (biochemically) going on when your body is at low oxygen?  Is the life-span altered at altitude?  Should I do the Festival of Bikes in Idyllwild one weekend (Aug 17-19) and the Tour de Lake Arrowhead (Aug 24-25) the next?  Am I coming down with alpinism?

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