Sunday, July 24, 2011


One of the important leadership lessons I learned at Horizons was how to get and give feedback.  To date I had not enabled the feedback functions on this blog because I didn’t want to moderate it.  But after getting some really good feedback on my “14er’s Checklist” post I determined it was time to open things up a little bit.

Allan McInnes, a professor friend of mine at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, correctly pointed out that my list was missing the “10 Essentials.”  The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based organization, assembled the original Ten Essentials list in the 1930s for climbers and outdoor adventurers. In 2003, the group's updated "systems" approach made its debut in its seminal text on climbing and outdoor exploration, Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (The Mountaineers Books, 2010), now in its eighth edition.  Packing these items whenever you head out for an adventure in the wilderness, even on day hikes, is a good habit. While on a routine trip you may use only a few of them, you will probably never fully appreciate the value of the Ten Essentials until you really need one of them.  So here are the two lists:

Updated Ten Essential "Systems"
1.        Navigation (map and compass)
2.        Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
3.        Insulation (extra clothing)
4.        Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
5.        First-aid supplies
6.        Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
7.        Repair kit and tools
8.        Nutrition (extra food)
9.        Hydration (extra water)
10.     Emergency shelter

Classic Ten Essentials
1.        Map
2.        Compass
3.        Sunglasses and sunscreen
4.        Extra clothing
5.        Headlamp/flashlight
6.        First-aid supplies
7.        Firestarter
8.        Matches
9.        Knife
10.     Extra food

So please if you want to comment on my blog going forward, I welcome your feedback.  Then hopefully this can become a little more of a conversation than just me sharing words and wondering if anyone is listening.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Where have you been?

When I returned home to the Denver International Airport last week and posted my location on Facebook, I got an interesting question from one of my friends.  “Where have you been?”  Normally simple to answer, it was a little more complicated this time.

The straightforward answer would have been spending a week in Snowbird, UT serving as a Guide for the 2011 Session 3 of the Sigma Chi Horizon’s program.  The Horizons program ( is a leadership-training program for undergraduate Sigma Chi members where alumni like myself come back and serve as guides on their “leadership journey.”  It combines outside adventure with inner reflection to learn what values based leadership is really about.  After going through training last year, this was my “rookie year” as a guide.

But that simple answer would really under state things quite a bit.  Because as well as getting very close with the young men that I mentored, as well as my fellow alumni who helped with the program, I went on the same “leadership journey” that all of the participants did.  In the process of “teaching” the material I learned I was not necessarily “living” the material, so Horizons taught me to become more authentic and hopefully bring that back home.

It also helped me to reach new heights as the attached video shows.  In training last year they never had us try this “leap of faith” probably because they worried we might not come back.  It was an amazing experience, like the rest of the week, and so that is why it was so difficult to answer the simple question of “where have you been?”

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

14ers Checklist

Friday I am headed out to climb my fourth 14er.  Considering there are 54 across the state, it is going to take me a while to climb them all.  In fact my pace of checking these off at 1-2 per year is much slower than my inspiration of a few years ago, Mark Obmascik, who wrote Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled and Knuckleheaded Quest for the Rocky Mountain High.  Mark set out to climb all 54 14,000 feet altitude picks in less than a year and then write a book about it.  Not only did he survive his quest, but also he wrote a good book in the process (2009 National Outdoor Book Award).

As I explained in my 7/1/11 Hiking for Hearts post, I am headed to Mount Sherman to knock another off the list.  One of the people I convinced to join me will be climbing his first 14er so I told him I would write up a checklist of what to bring.  The items on this list come from several places, but when in doubt and you are looking for the right info, go to

  1. Hiking Shoes: It starts with the shoes and I think Merrell makes the best for hiking.
  2. Hiking Socks:  Cotton sweat socks won’t do and nothing worse than getting a blister on a hike.
  3. Ball Cap:  Good for the sun and the sweat when the temperature is warmer.  I wear my First Ascent hat very time I climb a mountain for the first time.
  4. Beanie: For when it gets colder, which it usually does at some point in your hike.
  5. Gloves:  I like polar fleece mittens where the fingers can be exposed with Outdoor Research shells.  These serve me well skiing and they do the same climbing.
  6. Synthetic shirt:  Avoid cotton and go with one of the popular breathable shirts.
  7. Synthetic Long Underwear: Again these are good when it gets colder.
  8. Wind Block Jacket:  I love my Eddie Bauer downlight sweater.  If you want you can pay twice the price for a similar one from Patagonia.
  9. Waterproof Shell: I am happy with my North Face Venture jacket, but several options are available.
  10. Convertible Hiking Pants:  Get the ones with the zip off legs as you may want shorts when it gets hot.  I picked up a pair at REI I like.
  11. Pack:  I like Go Lite’s packs best.
  12. Water Bottles:  You will need a lot of water so fortunately my Go Lite backpack has two sleeves on the side and I can put more inside.
  13. Snacks:  Hiking for Hearts will give us lunch, but you will want munchies along the way.  I love the S’Mores Trail Mix at Target.
  14. iphone:  I have discovered that my iphone camera is about as good as any handheld and it gives me a lot more like GPS and a cell phone.
  15. Watch
  16. Knife or Multi-Tool
  17. Sunscreen:  You really are a lot closer to the sun and you know it.
  18. TP (in Ziploc Bag): No one stocks this on the mountain.
  19. Space blanket and First Aid Kit:  Just in case…
  20. Headlamp: In case you get caught on the mountain after dark.
  21. Trekking poles:  I just tried these last year, but they are a huge difference maker.
  22. Ibuprofen: You will want these before and after the hike.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Training Day

Today's a training day… But I ain't holding no hands, okay? I ain't baby-sitting. You got today and today only to show me who and what you're made of. –Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington)-Training Day the Movie

The Nation’s Triathlon is in 68 days and I am not ready.  So with basically 9 weeks away I am going into training mode.  What does that mean?  First, I need to whip the diet into shape to start losing that 10 pounds to get to my racing weight.  Second, I need to step up my exercise regime aiming for two swims per week, once on the bike, and two runs per week with bricks (triathlon term for a workout that combines any of the two disciplines) as often as possible to knock two workouts out at one time.  Third, I will apply my scientific discipline in planning and tracking these activities.

To get on the right track will also mean that there are several things I will need to stop doing.

  1. No alcohol.  I am a fan of my beers and cocktails, but for the next 9 weeks I should be able to stay off the sauce.
  2. No caffeine.  I am lucky as I already don’t drink coffee, but this will mean no soda as well.  Water should give me what I need.
  3. No bad foods.  Focus my diet on what is good and avoid what is bad.  Most of us know what this is and I will expand on this in a later post.
  4. No work excuses.  My most common excuse is that I work too much or work gets in the way, but discipline at work and with my diet and exercise can overcome that excuse.
  5. No false starts.  My blog and Facebook page will keep me accountable, as I will post my workouts and how I am doing.

Monday, July 4, 2011


For the past few weekends I have done several longer runs from 45-75 minutes and I am slow.  Although the Bolder Boulder was only five weeks ago, and I failed to train for that the way I should have (see 5/29/11 post Next Up Run Bolder), I still managed a time only a minute slower than my fastest Bolder Boulder time in 2008.  That doesn’t mean I was fast then, but if I was slow before I am slower now.

So how do I go from slower to faster?  Probably the best method is to cut the fat.  Now at six one and 195 pounds, “fat” in today’s obese America is probably a little too self-critical.  That being said my Body Mass Index of 25% does barely put me into the “overweight” category according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Earlier this year for the Lavaman Triathlon, I weighed 190 pounds, and improved on my Olympic Triathlon time substantially (see 4/7/11 post How about 118% for details).  For the Nation’s Triathlon on 9/11/11 in a little over two months I have set the goal of another personal record in the Olympic distance.  To do that I not only want to get back to that 190 pound weight, but go a little further and get down to 185 pounds.

The reason is not only to lose weight, but also because it is one of the quickest ways to improve performance.  In the book Racing Weight author Matt Fitzgerald points out that an extra 10 pounds demands more than 6% more energy at a given pace.  Even if I got a better bike, lighter shoes or any other equipment enhancement I might try, I will struggle to make up for the improvement that the 10 less pounds will mean.  The fact that I should be fitter in the course of losing those 10 pounds should only add to the performance enhancement I could expect.

So I will celebrate the 4th of July today, and probably eat like I shouldn’t, but tomorrow Training Day is coming.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hiking for Hearts

The Hunters are a special family.  You can read more about their story at the website (, but because of what they went through with their son, Noah, they have established the Hiking for Hearts program to raise money for Children’s Hospital.  Through Chris’ love of hiking they organize group hikes of beautiful Colorado 14ers each year and raise funds for those who join them.  Now going on their fourth year, I was fortunate to find out about their great cause last year and join them for hikes of Mt. Democrat and Mt. Quandry.

This cause is special to me as it hits close to home as the father of three premature children and knowing what it is like to see your little son or daughter in the incubator.  While the open-heart surgery that Noah went through is more severe than what I experienced (although my son’s later brain surgery may give them a bit of a run), the bond between parents who have watched their children battle for life is a strong one.  Talking with Chris and his wife Stephanie last year (you do a lot of that as you try to take your mind off the climb), I understood the challenges they went through.  The fact that they now have come up with this unique way to pay it forward shows how special they are.

So in 2011 I will be joining them for the first of two 14ers they will do, Mt Sherman on Friday July 8th.  I am sure it will be another incredible experience because the feeling of being at the top of a Colorado 14er is hard to describe.  I will try to do that when I get back.  The photo below shows my grin of having reached the top of Mt. Democrat so I look forward to sharing a similar photo after taking Mt. Sherman off my list.

On Top of Colorado-Todd enjoys the view from Mt. Democrat