Der Berg Ruft

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Equipment Check

As my physical training for Rainier slowly tapered off, my mental training kicked into high gear.

Week 20 of my training plan, another rest and recovery week, started with another insightful online and offline conversation with Lee about the transition period of New Alpinism. He got me thinking about my current training phase. Having completed base training while skipping the specific period, I was in no-man’s land, a mental Mauerpark of period-less-ness. Although the New Alpinism briefly mentions tapering and traveling, the book offers little advice about this final stage.

I wrote Lee that I was nervous. I recalled the uneasiness I felt on game days of high school football. No wonder: the first time I was on glaciers in the North Cascades was in 1984 and the last time was 25 years ago. I was acting like an apprehensive teenager because my mental training was unfinished.

To prepare myself and escape my pre-climb jitters, I thought about the techniques that worked in high school and later during my tour of duty in the Mixed Softball League of Berlin. First and foremost, preparation is the key. Resting was out of the question because I had ants in my pants. I went to the gym and casually worked out. I spoke with my gym buddies, lowered my number of sets, and dropped the amount of weight I was lifting. I even took my youngest daughter to nursery school making sure to walk the extra kilometers at a slower pace. Our morning outings were my personal reward for months of neglect. Since treats were off limits due to Lent, my daughter’s extra sweet, bonus kisses were better than the poppy seed cake from Bäckerei Hacker. (My wife appreciated the break too.)

The slower pace did me good, but it wasn’t enough. I found it hard to concentrate at work. I was restless and distracted. I realized that I didn’t have a pre-climb ritual. During football season in Texas, the entire community focuses its attention on the local team and its players. Pep rallies, locker decorations, and other signs of support motivate students and parents.

To take my mind off things, I changed the decoration on my office door. I also started packing at home and buying last minute provisions for the trip.

Door Decorations at Work

Door Decorations at Work

I meticulously laid out my equipment and got it readyߞa ritual borrowed from my years catching behind home plate. My wife wished I would have claimed less floor space, but it helped me visualize how I would eventually pack each item in my backpack. Besides, I got some relief when a dear friend of ours told my wife that she was impressed and jealous. She still has to pack her (ex-)husband’s suitcase for him.

Equipment Check

Equipment Check

Food Ready to Go

Food Ready to Go

With my bag packed and weighed (22 kg), my clothing, equipment, and food were ready to go. I managed to properly distract myself; yet, it was too early to put my game face on. We still have a long flight ahead of us. My wife and I are also uncertain what to expect when we finally arrive in Seattle, but I am confident that I have prepared myself.

Before we leave, I want to thank my support team, my family, and my friends for this last year, which has been a wonderful journey.

Rock on!

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