Since last thoughts and reports much has happened. If you’ve been reading my 10 Million Metres FB page you might know some of part of the following report for the TAC.
After arriving at Lone Pine, I was set to ride up the 11 miles of road leading to Whitney Portal but the hill was just too much to cycle at that point. So, joined by Sam Fox of the MJFF and Sharky, I walked the remaining 4 miles to the Portal, some 8,000ft up. The next morning was the real test; could I summit the 14,500ft of Mount Whitney?
Sam and I arrived at Whitney Portal at 4:30am and set off to climb the Mountaineers Route. Accompanied for a short while by the BBC and then we were off; finding our own path to the top of the mountain. The altitude got the better of me occasionally but, notwithstanding the fear and slight dizziness, I managed to put one foot in front of the other; determined to get to the top. At 12,000ft my first bit of climbing was proposed by Sam. I think that he was testing me, as the short climb for me up to the lake was marked by the knowledge that if I had slipped, there would have been a fall. A fall far enough to break bone, maybe more.
The climb to the second lake and the start of the summit ascent took quite a toll on my feet, body and level of oxygen. I was puffing and finding it hard; having to stop more often than I’d of liked to. A short rest and we were off again climbing the scree to the summit. The going was steep and Sam made it look easy, whereas I was sure that I was making things tough for myself. Then I fell….
In fact I slipped but only for 5 metres but it was enough to scare me. Sam pushed me (verbally not physically) forward and eventually I came to what I thought was the top. It wasn’t. Sam took me on yet another route towards the summit. This gave me the experience of traversing across a scree slope; unsure of the rocks under my feet with the knowledge that should I place my weight on one that might slide, it, its compatriots and me would tumble thousands of ft down the side of the mountain. Obviously that eventuality didn’t come to pass. Thankfully.
The next day, Sharky and I headed off from Lone Pine to run the intervening distance to Badwater. The daytime, although not crazy hot, was too hot to run and so we decided to switch to night running for the next 48 hours. This opened up our senses to a whole different way of recognising things and equally mistaking objects for things that they were not. Fatigue will do this to you. Just ask anyone who has run the Grand Union Canal Race. At one point we stood looking at a piece of shredded car tyre thinking that it was a giant insect!! The night running worked brilliantly but the BBC guys wanted a daytime shot or two. So we ran the final 17 miles to Badwater in 106 degree Fahrenheit with 34% humidity. The end was just amazing as all the people in the car park at Badwater, cheered and clapped Sharky and me to the finish. I have to say that it was extremely tough but equally worthwhile.
The next day was a 111 mile bike to Las Vegas. I was almost in pieces when I finished a 22 mile bike ride uphill into a 15 knot headwind! The decent to Las Vegas was equally notable as the cold, that I was not expecting, made my PD worse on the hill (enormous hill) into Las Vegas. Notwithstanding, Larry Watson and Dave Lui came up trumps. Bike sprints through Las Vegas to the famous strip with all the glamour and insanity you can take. I rode the strip and I was surprised that photos were taken and people noted the website. Here’s hoping that awareness was made!!
Later that night, the crew took a well deserved night off. I believe that good times were had. I even had a brief flutter on the blackjack table; setting myself a small limit and losing a bit. I cut my losses before my limit and headed back to the RV with thoughts of the forthcoming long long ride arose the USA to come.
More soon…in the meantime, please donate! We need to find a cure.