Failure

When I left the Leadville Fish Hatchery at 2am on Monday morning—setting out on the Nolan’s 14 link-up—I suspect I thought I would have a much longer and more interesting story to tell about my journey than the tale I have in my head right now. The short of it is that I started out stupidly early in the morning, felt crappy already by the second peak (Mt. Elbert), and kept going for four more peaks and 10 more hours, but instead of things getting better they just kept getting worse and worse so I ultimately bailed after Mt. Belford (#6) and descended to the Missouri Gulch trailhead, in relief.

All photos: Matt Trappe.

Last summer, I did extensive scouting of the largely off-trail route and did three long runs on the course, culminating in an enchainment of the first five peaks in mid-July (more on that later). This year, I spent the month-plus before my attempt scouting and re-scouting, summiting a 14er basically every day, covering the entire course in three different long runs, and arriving at the day of my attempt feeling as fit and prepared as I ever have. More fit than last year, according to times on several different ascents.

This accumulation of experience on the route, inevitably, shaped a vision and spawned a constellation of intentions and personal expectations for what I could accomplish in this unique mountain range. This is human nature. In the 18th Century, philosopher David Hume famously questioned such induction and empiricism—the notion that we can accurately base future expectations on past experience—first giving voice to the classic “problem of induction”.  The main issue, however, with being skeptical about induction is that doing so doesn’t leave much else to go on beyond imagination and instinct (Hume’s solution), which are generally considered to be a little less reliable. Obviously, this leaves plenty of room for us to be wrong about things, expectations be damned.

Every long run I’d done on the course in the past year had gone very well, feeling as if I had plenty of vert left in the tank, even after completing three to five peaks (and 13-22k’ of climbing). My longest previous outing on the line last July—a link-up of the first five monster northern peaks (Massive, Elbert, La Plata, Huron, and Missouri)—had been particularly encouraging. On that day, I reached the summit of Missouri in 10:33 and after traversing down to 13,200′ Elkhead Pass in 22min, had been only 45min away from tagging the next two mountains (Belford and Oxford) but was forced off the high ridges by a particularly hair-raising (literally) and violent electrical storm. I encountered no physical issues that day and was only disappointed by the fact that the weather had aborted my outing before my planned stopping point of Mt. Columbia (#9).

This effort (and subsequent long runs), combined with the fact that for the past six weeks of scouting I’ve felt the best I ever have at high altitude, caused me to formulate the ambitious—some might say arrogant—time goal of 30hrs for a route that all previous finishers had taken 55-60hr to complete. Although I was initially inspired to attempt this massive link-up because of the vision that Jim Nolan and Fred Vance originally articulated, as I deepened my experience in climbing and mountaineering I began to be turned off by the largely arbitrary “rules” that allegedly must accompany an “official” Nolan’s 14 finish, namely, finishing in less than 60hrs and not using pacers. Personally, I don’t care how long it takes someone to finish all of the peaks; the line is audacious enough that simply trying to do it in a single push is impressive to me. And if you want to share the experience with someone along the way, by all means.

Ultimately, for me, “Nolans” became nothing more than the most widely-recognized term for what I simply see as a very logical link-up of the Sawatch Range 14ers (save Mount of the Holy Cross, which lies so far to the north as to not be logical to include in the line). Much like Blake Wood apparently initially argued, for me the challenge and the inspiration is defined by the geography and the terrain, not an arbitrary distance or trail on a map. Many, many people have asked me how many miles Nolan’s is…I don’t know what my scouted route adds up to, because I think it’s irrelevant. Instead, the focus is on starting from the valley, hitting all the summits under my own power, and finishing back in the valley. The speed aspect naturally comes into play for me because moving quickly and efficiently (relative to one’s ability) is not only satisfying in the moment but in order to do so, requires a deep knowledge of the place.

Based on my recce’s of the course, 18hrs to do the first 10 peaks seemed like a reasonable goal (yep, using some induction there), and because peak 10 is a basically entirely off-trail traverse of Mt. Yale, I decided that timing my start so that I could do Yale with the last bits of daylight was a good idea. However, even during the longest days of the year, this would mean a 2am departure from the Fish Hatchery at the base of Mt. Massive. So that’s what I did, even if it meant waking up at 12:30am and getting only ~90min of rest before what was a sure-to-be-epic endeavor.

Of course, I felt great running the trail up through the forest on Massive’s eastern slopes, and soon abandoned the path to cut straight to the summit via the mountain’s east ridge. Once I popped out above treeline the supermoon illuminated everything in a brilliant sheen and my throat didn’t burn as much from all the wildfire smoke settled in the valley. I kept a deliberately casual effort to the summit, which I reached in 1:48, and without pause headed down the technical trail on Massive’s southwestern slopes into the Halfmoon Creek drainage. From my training, I knew that I seemed to burn more calories at altitude, so I concentrated on eating a gel every 20min or so, and my stomach obliged without issue. Nevertheless, by the time I waded across Halfmoon Creek at ~10,400′ (and 2:36 into the run), I was already feeling drowsy and foggy in the head.

I suppose that was expected at 4:30am, but it soon required deliberate focus to just keep running. Maybe partly because of this, I bungled the off-trail approach to Mt. Elbert’s west ridge for the first time in approximately a dozen ascents of it and ended up wasting maybe 5min wading through steep, loose scree and cobbles at its base. I again, however, kept the effort deliberately easy on the steep slope, trying to conserve energy, but I could tell that I was lacking my usual punch on this terrain. I also noticed that my hands were starting to get swollen and puffy, only 4hrs into the run.

I thought I’d gain a boost from seeing some familiar faces (photographers and videographers) on the summit of Elbert (4:04 elapsed), but I was still uncoordinated, bumbly, and strangely lethargic/unmotivated on the descent over to the Golden Fleece Mine and Echo Canyon, having to remind myself several times to actually run the downhill instead of settling into a lazy hike. Twice on this descent I even just sat down and sort of gazed around absent-mindedly. Though such leisure is in and of itself no big deal on such a long effort, this kind of behavior was severely out of character for me. A four hour run at an easy effort where I’m consistently eating is usually truly trivial for me—even when it involves climbing two 14ers—so the fact that I was so out of it mentally and physically so early in the day seemed to be a very bad sign indeed.

I hit Highway 82 in 4:59 and jogged the 2mi of pavement west to the La Plata Gulch TH where I would meet my crew for the first time. Joe had posted himself a short ways down the road to look for me and as he ran me in to the trailhead I commented on my foggy brain and general lethargy and puffy hands. It was still extremely early, though (literally and figuratively), so I was happy to just jog along, eat a bunch of food, and hike anything that wasn’t flat. As I headed up La Plata things were okay for a while, but the last 1500′ or so were absolutely terrible. Despite pounding many calories, I was just staggering around, stumbling over things, sitting on rocks, head on the knees, etc…the summit (7:06) was such a relief.

By the time I made it down to Winfield (8:08), I knew that I was going to have to take some time to try and figure out what was going on, except that since I was eating a ton and regularly peeing clear I didn’t really know what else I could do, other than go back to sleep, which is what I really felt like doing. But, my decision to not do that at Winfield—at only 10am—was directly linked to what I wanted to do in the Sawatch Range in the first place.

I could’ve literally crawled in the back of Joe’s truck here, gone to sleep for several hours, woken up, had him and Mauricio cook me a meal, and soldiered on with plenty of time left to tackle the rest of the route. But—and this is the part that will probably be hard for some to understand—that is simply not the style in which I was or am interested in doing this. I know from prior experience that, at the very least, I shouldn’t have to resort to such disaster-prevention tactics until much, much later in the day and farther along the route. If I’m feeling so terrible so early on that a sleep and a feed is the only thing to set me right, I’m completely comfortable with admitting that it clearly isn’t my day and that there will be other chances to try again. I know that attitude really rubs some people the wrong way. There seems to exist this somewhat odd notion that not going until the point of collapse somehow disrespects the mountains or one’s crew or the people following along online, as if not soldiering on even when something has been out-of-the-ordinary for quite some time is a moral affront to the summits and the community. Personally, when I know my body isn’t in proper working order, it seems more than a little arrogant and ego-centric to think that “oh, if you’re just tough enough you’ll get the job done.” No. I completely agree that an athlete owes it to his or her immediate supporters—crew and sponsors and such—to give it his or her all. But, after that, forget it.

So, with exactly those intentions—to honor the time, money, energy, and effort various people had invested in seeing me try my level best; to see if I could have one of those irrational yet magical turnarounds in energy and attitude that defines the ultra-endurance experience, and which I have experienced, against what seems to be all odds, many times before (it really does work sometimes)—I marched out of Winfield with Joe with a bunch of food in my pockets to see if I could just get through this extended low point.

We walked along the mostly flat 4WD road not because my legs hurt (they felt basically fine) or my stomach was off (I was able to eat all I wanted) but because my strength and energy was at a rock-bottom low. Just super-weak and sleepy. Finally, Joe suggested I take a short nap in the sun. It was 10:52am and he would wake me at 11am. With a water bottle for a pillow, I was out within a couple of minutes and when we started going again, it seemed to help a little.

At the trailhead, Joe turned back and I continued on alone. The rest of my day wasn’t very interesting. Going uphill was hard. Going uphill above treeline was really hard, blah, blah, blah, complain, complain. Except that I would like to submit here that the combination of vertical and altitude and navigation and sheer intimidating scale of the Sawatch mountain range changes the tenor of things just a little from what one might normally experience in, well, any standard trail ultra in North America or anywhere really. It’s something that I’ll gently suggest really might need to be experienced first-hand in order to be fully understood. Hardrock pales in comparison. And that it very well might be worth possessing such an understanding before passing any judgment.

I made the top of Huron at 10:20 elapsed time, Clohesy Lake at 10:55, the summit of Missouri at 12:30, Elkhead Pass at 13:06, and finally stumbled to the summit of Belford at 13:34, where Joe was waiting for me with photographer Matt Trappe and his assistant Dan. The pertinent things were that A) after 10 hours of stumbling things had only not gotten better, they’d gotten markedly worse, and B) leaving the summit of Belford essentially committed me to climbing and descending at least three more mountains before the next feasible bail point at North Cottonwood Creek. In the end, it wasn’t a hard decision for me to stop and it’s one that I don’t regret one bit, even days later. Things were bad enough on Belford that some sort of complicated, protracted rescue effort seemed entirely probable were I to descend into the Pine Creek drainage, and that was certainly something I had no interest in, especially since it had already been a monumental struggle to come as far as I had. Continuing not only seemed stupid but entirely irresponsible, given the lack of access to the next few mountains.

It would be easy to think here, “Well, duh, Nolan’s is tough, what did you expect? Be a little tougher and get back out there.” My answer is that when I’m obviously operating in some sort of compromised condition from the start, I don’t find any value in continuing to slog on. There are good days and bad days. I’ve had enough good days—heck, even just average days—in the mountains to know when I’m having a bad one and that continuing to force it serves no purpose worthwhile to me.

I’ll be back to give the Sawatch 14ers another shot in the future, but most likely not this summer season. I learned some tactical lessons this go-round that I’ll definitely keep in mind for the future, but amongst them is not any fundamental change in the vision I have for what I can do on this route. And if Hume is to be believed, that’s fine. Long pushes of physical and mental endurance—especially in the unpredictable, rugged environs of the high mountains—are, at their core, wildly irrational, instinctual actions based on vision, imagination and hubristic faith. And I like it that way.

Finally, a sincere thank you to all who supported me this past week. I’ll be attempting to reciprocate for Joe at the Hardrock 100 in two weeks’ time, but everyone else—you know who you are, you were there—I can only say that I was inspired by your willingness to help a brother out, no questions asked. There’s a lot of unadulterated good in the world.

60 thoughts on “Failure

  1. Wow. Well written and well done, man. From a fellow CC grad, all I can say is that some commitments are not as “real” as others; Your health is of utmost importance, and pushing beyond the point that your body instinctively recognizes as the “the limit,” is irrational, and you obviously recognize that.

    There will, most likely, be days for this in the future. Congrats on finding your limits.

    And wait to you have kids…You’ll have to live these experiences through blogs ;).

    PS: As a fellow philosopher, thanks for dropping some Hume!

  2. Wow amazing effort TK. I am not sure who thinks this is arrogant but you are trying to push your body to the extreme. Pushing such huge peaks is no easy task and one that i truly can’t comprehend. Seems to me the start time may have messed you up but who really knows. Thanks for another amazing blog post I feel like you will achieve some great things this summer. UTMB shall be owned by you.

  3. Tony,

    You’re the man. Everyone has bad days. Looking forward to seeing you conquer the Nolan’s 14 in the future!

  4. Dude, you’re such a badass. I have no doubt you’ll shatter the FKT. Set a more realistic goal, like 40hours, get some rest, and kick some ass. Really enjoyed the vid of you and Kilian on the Grand. Very inspiring!

  5. Good read. Pity things didn’t work out given all the planning, but I know you learnt a lot. Often it’s about the journey rather than the destination

  6. It takes a wise man and one who is satisfied with himself to not be intimidated by the fear or reality of failure and to know when to cease the battle to fight again another day. Remember, also, that your crew is there for you, not you for them; although I understand and have experienced the feelings of responsibility to crew.

  7. Good on you! A great effort by you & all your supporters.

    It’s nice to see when atheltes know their body well enough & know when to pull the pin. There is no shame in that. And a lot of the people who say “just push through it” are not in touch with their body & would be the ones requiring a rescue (maybe even putting others in harms way).

    Best of luck for conquering it in the future! Some things are worth the wait.

  8. From somewhere else:
    Even Edna St. Vincent Millay understood what might happen:

    “My candle burns at both ends;
    It will not last the night;
    But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
    It gives a lovely light!”

    —–A Few Figs from Thistles

    ———————-
    Thank you for the insight and honesty (and the weight of taking us all along) in a well-written story of putting yourself out there.

  9. As a five peak finisher I can relate to how hard this route is. Until you try it you can’t understand. Congratulations on such a supreme effort. The mountains will still be there for your next try.

  10. That was a great report. Sometimes the worst times bring out the best. You will rock it next time Tony. Running something like this should be all about your own personal goals and I was glad to see you did not compromise who you are to please a few.

  11. Tony, I’m not sure who would be arrogant enough to pass judgement on you for giving it your best, and being humble enough to know it wasn’t your day and calling it quits for another time. I know it must have been a difficult decision in your mind knowing the many who were following your exploits in the mountains and cheering for you.

    To me, you are an inspiration and I hope someday and somewhere our paths might cross.

  12. Dude, that Mountain climbing is too hardcore! Come run easy but admittedly boring flat 1 mile loops for 24 hours. You will dominate and we would love to have you represent the USA team next year. It will be a great change of pace (literally). Best regards and much respect for your toughass endeavors. joe

  13. Love the article and how you throw in Hume and the problem of induction along the way…thanks for being an inspiration!

  14. Nice post, Tony. Pretty much what I figured happened. I’ve never done anything nearly so epic, but I’ve had runs where I’ve felt lousy, wasn’t going to have a good run, wasn’t going to accomplish anything or get any tougher or learn anything by staying out there. Seems like it was that kind of day for you. Do you plan on another attempt soon? I’d love to see you succeed. Still a lot of summer left!
    One technical question; have you gotten up at that time and run before? Do you think that perhaps your body wasn’t prepared to be awake and working then, so rebelled? Any merit in perhaps practicing that aspect of the run?

    • Terry, It seems pretty unlikely that I’ll have the time to give it another shot this summer season. Possibly in September, but then I’d be really compromising UROC. And lacking acclimation after a month in the Alps. That was the first time that I’d started that early, especially on only an hour of sleep…it was a horrible idea. The next time I give it a go, I’ll simply start from the Fish Hatchery at first light and make sure that I have the route up and over Yale 100% dialed-in so that I’m confident doing it in the dark.

      • I’m a nurse and work a rotating schedule – meaning I’ll work day shifts and night shifts all within the same week. I train with a heart rate monitor very often and the physiologic effects of a night shift are quantitatively evident for several days after the shift – HR gets higher, quicker, and with significantly less effort. Ignoring my HR and going by pace alone can mean significantly more stress on/effort by the cardiovascular system to maintain a “normal” pace; even if my perceived effort is the same as always. I continue to find this interesting (and frustrating) and I’m sure a similar effect was at work with you, as well.

        Best of luck to you next time. Your efforts (whether you personally deem them as successes or failures) are inspiration to many.

  15. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on such an epic struggle. And thank you for showing that it is ok to stop and listen to yourself, not just what others might think if what you are doing.

  16. Inspiring read – the only thing I reckon is wrong is the title – “failure” – would only happen if you never attempted it in the first place.

  17. The power is never in the goal but the step toward it. You created an opportunity to look deep inside and you have gained knowledge about yourself. This is priceless. You are stronger for it and an inspiration to the world. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I feel your words and learned a bit myself.

  18. Anton,

    Very honest post, yet I can’t help but feel bad you felt you needed to explain yourself at all. You were the one ultimately accepting the exposure and challenge of a full day and a half in the mountains not any of us. I think the question of style is very personal and think that following your own style is the only longical approach to any of this. Your obviously super fit and have gained much knowledge and fitness from your prep for Nolan’s so nothing is a loss; just a bad day on a huge line that I don’t yet have the experience to comprehend. Keep your head up and enjoy the rest of the summer!

  19. Hi Tony,

    I wish you did it, but I know you will do it later on. Your story, epic, awesome,
    you are so motivating, one of the best ultra runner of the world

    take care thomas

  20. This is well done and very honest. If I remember correctly, Hume used the example of the rising of the sun to illustrate the problem of induction – fitting for your struggles. Best wishes for the second attempt.

  21. An uncharacteristically bad day in the mountains, but an outstanding few hours on the computer – thank you for this honest, insightful, and well-written report.

  22. A great write up though I think it’s a bit harsh to call it a ‘Failure’, personally, any experience you learn from is a valuable one and is only a failure if you fail to learn anything from it. An awesome and impressive outing, you’ll be back to beat it stronger than ever. Don’t underestimate the inspiration you create.

  23. After reading this I’d say your attempt at the Nolan’s is as far from a failure as you can get. More a learning exercise as I’m sure through tjis experience you’ll be back bigger, better and prepared for the next attempt! Thanks for such a candid and honest look into such a demanding challenge. All the best Nathan :)

  24. Anton, I agree with your decision 100%. You have a gift and you are using it wisely – investing your talents where and when they will produce the most satisfying experiences. Even you are not invulnerable and it’s clear that you understand that. Those who would criticize will be the first to forget you when your talents are gone. Their opinions don’t matter. The mountains will welcome you when you are ready, and their spirit will welcome yours a million years from now.

  25. That pic of you sitting with head & hands over knees definitely shows your right hand looking pretty swollen. Great effort! There’s no failure in trying

  26. So much respect at your intimidating feat throughout a very large arena, and for keeping your head on straight with an honest decision atop Belford. I applaud your efforts, decision, crew and writing. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Just throwing out there, but some of the symptoms you describe…the lethargy, the swelling hands, the lack of focus….are all symptoms of anxiety. You may think the problem is physical, but it a lot of the times it’s mental. Your good performance on training runs and then issues on “the day of” remind me of my own anxiety issues (and those of other athletes I know – some of whom ended up in the ER swearing they were about to die of a heart condition, only to be told they are 100% fine). Again, just throwing it out there. Oh, and I don’t think the post title “Failure” is really fair or kind to yourself. All the best.

  28. Truly remarkable! I think it is amazing the lengths to which you push yourself, it is really inspiring to read and experience from a viewer and runner. Keep running and writing, it keeps others inspired and running. So, Thank You!

  29. Hi Tony,
    Your attempt was awesome. I know from personal experience with running these Ultra’s that I have grown the most from fixing the mistakes. My Grandmother used to say take the good with the bad. Do not give up on this goal !!!! You will achieve it.
    I do respect your comment ” continuing would be irresponsible.”

  30. 90 minutes of sleep for a long mtn. run will burn you every time.
    I typically start a 20 mile, 8,000′ vert. Presi Traverse @ 3 a.m., and it’s hard to adjust the previous day to get the sleep, but you just gotta… but you know that now!
    Good luck at Speedgoat
    -Drew

  31. I would not call this failure. Those that only know this sport from the outside, cannot imagine the sacrifice and effort that the course will drain from you. This sport makes you humble, specially when you find yourself in such mountain ranges. We are so little! Anton, you´ll make it next time!!

  32. Hi Anton,

    Greetings from Denmark….a very flat place.

    Just wanted you to know that you inspire people all over the World and that this piece is a fantastic read and a stunning piece of motivation…..keep-it-up. Good luck and all the best.

    /Jon

  33. I just wanted to thank everyone for all the very kind comments. To be sure, there were definitely things about my attempt worth criticizing, so you all are kind to keep it so sunny. Just one point: I guess I feel the need to “explain myself” because this is a part of my life that years ago I decided to make quite public, so I feel I owe it to those who are following along—supporters and detractors alike—to provide an honest account.

  34. Nice work, Tony! You continue to be an inspiration to me – I’ve reached my own highs because of your writing and actions, and experienced my own setbacks for no reason what-so-ever, except it wasn’t my day, or maybe I ate something wrong? or maybe – maybe I’ll never know.

    I can def. share the experience of feeling all the practice and training makes one feel almost invincible, and on the very early stages of whatever the Big challenge is, I’m stumbling out of the track, and seeking the random medical attention that just so happens to be there, on the side of the road.

  35. Great writeup and read and candid account.
    Performance declines as with sleep deprivation of course, and this is exacerbated/interactive with altitude…so it was unfortunate and perplexing (for wanting to see a fast effort) to have started compromised if it was under your control (maybe it wasn’t). You know this though and can control it for next time!

    I wonder more about accurate “extrapolation” more than I would call it “induction” when it comes to pacing — as you said, even HR pales in comparison, so with Nolan’s you’re talking about a zone of sleep-deprivation and hypoxia unlike most anything else and with a very small sample size, with performance likely to decline with distance at a much greater rate than other efforts. I’m just trying to think about the exercise phys of it, admittedly from the armchair. 35 or 40 or 45 hours would still blow everyone’s minds!

    OTOH, that was nice respect by noting that even a 60+ hour attempts are impressive, as it is more about the line than the time, and other arbitrary rules: the biggest shame of not having pacers is losing out on what could be great photos from Joe!

    Looking forward to the next attempt.

  36. Thank you so much for taking us along with you on your excellent adventures via your writing! You are very inspirational.
    I am sure that you have a lot of gratitude for being healthy enough to undertake such a rigorous run, whether you made it to “your” finish line or somewhere else.
    Have been thinking about that run you posted about when you couldn’t run faster than 10 minute miles. You attributed it to waking up in the wrong sleep cycle…..

    Did you end up getting sick after Nolan’s?

  37. Tony,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. You are not alone with having the odd off day in the mountains. We all take our turn for sure. I’m just wondering if your lack of rest days doesn’t play a part in this? I know some folks need more rest than others. But it would be hard for me to believe that more rest days prior to an event of this magnitude wouldn’t help you to avoid what happened. I would wager that with a little more rest in the mix you will no doubt break the 30 Hr mark.
    Cheers, John

  38. What is the difference between taking a break early and regrouping rather than later and regrouping. Parallel – Roes having a very early Bonk at WS 2010, patiently regrouping earlier, then not needing rehab during the last 20-30 miles…

  39. At least you were far enough in the wilderness for no one to hear your cries (always a good day). Everybody hurts. How you move forward is key. Enjoy life. Don’t sweat the tall stuff.

  40. Tony, Nothing with that much training, planning, and effort could be called a failure. We ultra runners are always learning about ourselves and what we need to push our bodies to the limit. You inspire others to challenge themselves….and we look at you in awe. Another challenge, another day.

  41. Well.. I’ll be honest. What you attempted to do is admirable. And any day in the mountains is a good day. But why not eat a nice slice of humble pie.. and just simply try to complete the Nolans Route in 50 hours before you attempt to do it in 30? You can’t be super awesome all the time Tony. I know your student loans are due payment soon, so that’ll dig into your running and training.. so you have a bit of a clock ticking.. but c’mon. How about just going out for an adventure instead of always trying to be the best?

    • Josh – I “just go out for an adventure” pretty much every time I lace up my shoes. As for “trying to be the best”…well, I guess I’m interested in personal growth and that means sometimes challenging myself; I don’t know about “being the best”, but I do try to be better than previous versions of myself, in all aspects of my life. As for student loans, I was lucky enough to go to school on a full-tuition science scholarship so am (very gratefully) debt-free.

  42. Tony, the notion that attempting epic and awe-inspiring adventures and having them not go exactly as planned are “failures” is doing yourself and many others injustice. Where you, and all of us readers (supporters and detractors alike), are in our lives is a result of the infinite choices we make daily and you in particular have, and continue to, make choices that are way beyond most of us. Sheer will, integrity, determination, resilience, and creativity are traits that you exhibit routinely and that kills some people. Please don’t let their fears and mean spirited attempts to denigrate dampen your spirit. Know that when you attempt feats like this that you have support from far more people than you know. I made my kids read your story, I made my employees check out your blog… You are doing a whole lotta living for a whole lot of people and I speak for many of them when I tell you that the only “Failure” here would be if you weren’t trying. Best of luck to Joe at Hardrock tomorrow. You both inspire.

  43. Thanx for such an inspiring, honest and candid account of your experience.

    Failures are underappreciated. Where would we be without our learning experiences?!

    Any detractors passing judgement on bailing after your situation can easily do so from the comforts of their own home. Not on some exposed mountainside with possible physical harm for you(or any rescuers) as a consequense. To me it seems you took the high road(no pun intended) – putting life and limb in front yours and others expectations. In my opinion to many athletes succumb to others(sponsors, fans, ignorants) expectations and opinions. And putting themselves in harms way unnecessarily. As a fan all I expect is inspirational accounts of great, ambitious adventure. Sometimes that means you have to try another day.

    Stay true to yourself – It is what makes you, You. And therefore interesting to us. :-)

    Did you hear that – Sponsors?! ;-)

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