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How I Trained to Summit Mount Everest in Colorado

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For the last 4 years, I have been pursuing my dream of completing the Seven Summits — climbing the highest mountain on each continent. Finally, at 5:45am on May 23, 2017, I summited Mount Everest, the last of the Seven Summits on my list. 

Living on the East Coast in Washington, D.C., I did not have access to high altitude or big mountains, so I made Colorado my training ground for Denali, Aconcagua, and finally, Everest. Just a short, inexpensive flight away from the East Coast, Colorado offers the perfect setting for mountaineering, ice climbing and other winter adventure goals. The more I discovered Colorado, the more winter activities I found that helped my training and were very fun and rewarding in their own right. 

One of my go to favorite activities is climbing Colorado’s fourteeners, which range in levels of technical and athletic difficulty. Their beautiful mountain scenery rivals some of the best high-alpine landscapes in the world. I was attempting to do Everest in a shorter time than typical by pre-acclimatizing in the U.S. since I could not take a two months’ vacation from work. Thus, I flew to Colorado twice on weekends the month before my Everest trip to hike up Pikes Peak (a very accessible hike even in early Spring) and spent a few nights sleeping at the very cool Barr Camp at 10,000 feet, which has log cabins and a friendly staff.

My absolute favorite place to spend time in Colorado is Ouray, famed for its man-made Ice Park. The Ouray Ice Park offers fantastic ice climbing opportunities for absolute novices to the sport but also has challenging routes for experienced climbers. The world-famous ice-climbing competition during the Ouray Ice Festival each winter is a spectator event not to be missed. Ouray Ice Park is where I refined many of my technical climbing skills needed for climbing Everest and Denali. I even used the aluminum ladders in Ouray Ice Park to train for all of the dangerous ladder crossings through the Khumbu Icefall on the South Side of Everest. 

Outside the Ouray Ice Park, there are excellent opportunities for backcountry skiing and multi-pitch ice climbs for those looking to venture out. San Juan Mountain Guides and Peak Guides offer a wide range of outdoor adventure courses, from ice and rock climbing and ski-hut touring to my personal favorite — a three-day avalanche safety course, AIARE 1 (American institute for Avalanche Research and Education’s Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain course) — which I took this winter in order to be safer in the mountains.

Of course, there is always skiing in nearby Telluride, which I found to be an excellent activity during my ice-climbing rest days with great restaurants and shopping in town. Since I work from home, it was great for me that all of these activities are only a short drive from town and within an hour’s drive from the Montrose Airport. I was able to train for Everest, enjoy Colorado’s beautiful mountains and still get my legal work done.

Not only two days back from Nepal, I found myself again in Golden — rock-climbing on some difficult routes with surrounding valley landscape as stunning and accessible as Chamonix. As I’m back in Washington, D.C. doing my corporate legal work, something tells me I will be back in Colorado very soon.

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