I’ve admittedly been a flatlander my whole life, never living above 4,000 feet for more than a few weeks at a time, but absolutely reading every book and report on any given mountaineering expedition into the 18 and 22 thousand foot range and thought, “I could get into that kind of shape and haul ass in two months given unlimited time, red bull, and fierceness.”

The reality is alititude, even the most mild bites you in the butt, almost literally. This past weekend I was at Kirkwood south of Lake Tahoe in the Sierras. Kirkwood has a base elevation of 7,500 feet and summit of 9,500 feet. I was hiking a spine rib in thigh deep snow with my pack, avi gear and skis on my back, all told about 15 pounds (read=not that much) and sucking wind HARD following by buddy Eric who was leading. Not only was I sucking wind, but seriously breaking it, to the point I was questiong everything I had to eat in the last 5 days because it was absurd and embarrassing.

We took a break after 40 minutes up up-hiking and took some pictures (more of that to come) and I was telling Eric he was lucky he was breaking trail. He laughed for a second because he thought I was being a dick, making him do all the hard work, but when I explained my reasons, he told me altitude’s effect on your body begins most mildly with active GI behavior. Good times up there in the mountains, really allows you escape.