Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pakistan thus far

So although the company site (Field Touring Alpine) has not updated anything more recent than what I've told you, if you want to keep updated I have found you should check the links I posted in the last entry of the other people with Isaiah. They have been giving more detailed updates almost day to day of what the crew is doing. It's quite interesting and glad to know everyone is doing well thus far.

Continue with your thoughts and prayers!
God Bless

Monday, June 15, 2009

In Skardu

Hi everyone!
So Isaiah managed to e-mail some of us with some pretty exciting and interesting updates. I will just copy and paste the important stuff. Enjoy!

Well we made it to Skardu last night after two days on the KKH (karakorum highway) 18 hours the first day and 10 hours the second. It was very scenic but there was also a lot of time on virtually one lane roads that had been blasted into the side of the cliff. Like 3/4 of a tunnel and there were hundreds even over a thousand feet of vertical or vertical enough that you wouldn't stop until the Indus River. Speaking of the Indus river it is huge! Everything here is huge the mountains just seem steeper and taller than anything in the states.

So most of the group here is British and the rest seem to be Austrialian or some other country where they happen to speak really good english. More than once in the past several days I've ended up sitting at a table as the only American, and also the only one that hasn't summitted Everest. In fact, the other day there were 4 everest summitters and I sitting at a table after we ate and they were talking about how let down they were after Everest. How it was easy enough to use a treking pole the whole way up. That's why a lot of them are here, they are looking for something more challenging. It's great being part of a joint BP/K2 expedition because everyone is so experienced and there is a level of seriousness and experience that I feel is very rare even on 8000 meter peaks. I mean we've got Tunc (pronounced Tun-ch) who has 5 summits over 8000 meters, Fabritzio who's been on K2 3 times and Nanga Parbat once and I think Everest and everything else. He spent 84 days in Antartica and climbed 11 new big wall routes (a big wall usually means aid climbing, portaledges, and in the range of 3000 feet). I would mention the websites of my fellow climbers but I don't know them. Anyway Jake Meyer, Amy Beetom, Tunc Findik, and Wim Smets (Click this link for Smets page in English) probably have their own websites and I know Fabritzio has his own blog on Blogger. (Berea look these up and the others on this expedtions climbing BP or K2 and make a post on my blog with the links to each of their websites or blogs) Also Dave something is making a documentary and I'm going to try to help by giving him footage from my camera and hopefully carting his 6.5 pound huge camera part way up BP to get some shots of K2.

It's a riot hanging out with the British because they just make jokes all the time and have these crazy accents. Basically, we're always making jokes, sorting out the differences between the different English speaking cultures (making jokes), or talking about mountains. I pretty much laughed my way up the KKH.

We haven't been close to any violence except we were 80 km drive from the Swat valley (essentially the other side of the mountain but a 3 hour drive) and there is fighting there. There was a lot of security in that area and we had a police escourt for like 9 hours changing out police every 20-30 minutes. We also followed an army tank on a trailer up the road. Actually there is a much smaller presence of guns than I expected. None of the civilians carry guns except the guards in banks. I have not seen any other countries militarys either. the Pakistani army seems quite organized and serious.

Today I bought a tradition Pakistani shirt and pants and hat. All for about 7.50 dollars. Everything is really cheap here. Gas is 56 ruppees to the liter (80 ruppees to the dollar and 3.8 liters to the gallon).

The response people have when I tell them this is my first expedition is quite astonished. BP is probably harder than Everest they say. But everyone is very supportive. I explain basically why I made the leap and they understand. I wanted harder than Denali, Aconcagua, or Cho Oyu and is I'm going to take a month off why not two months? I was asking Fabritzio for advice last night about expeditions last night and he said "get out now, otherwise you'll end up washed up and single like me" later I told him I had started aid climbing this year and he said "get out now" then I asked him about having a company to make climbing gear because he used to make climbing clothing and he said "ok now everything I tell you about starting a company take that, and do the opposite and you'll end up successful". In the British side of things there has been an ongoing discussion the last few days of "wassup" and the propper response being "not much". It's pretty hularious seeing the brits or whoever try to have an american accent and fail misserably but you can hear enough of a change that it's very funny. If the whole expedition is this fun it's going to be great! The food is really good too. Today about two hours ago I had the best tea I'ev ever had (The three Everest summitters Amy, Wim and Will ( I think his name is will he's on K2 only from England) thought that was some statement. Amy in particular was like "that's very profound". But I don't drink tea much. The mango is excellent as well.

I love telling people I'm from the USA they step back and kind of try to comprehend that. Most Americans say they are from Canada or something. Anyway it's quite safe (aside from the painted "USA and Isreal is real terrorists") and when I start to wear the local clothes with my beard I shall look quite local.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Message From the Field

Hello all!

So for all of you excited to hear from and about Isaiah's travels, I have an update!

He called my parents (I am Berea, Isaiah's sister, btw) from the expeditions doctors cell phone and is now in Islamabad, Pakistan! Meaning the flights went well, and he safe so far. He is currently with 12 of the other members on his expedition. Flying into Pakistan, he first arrived in Dubai and met up with 4 of the members, as they were noticeably the only 4 caucasion, mountain looking men. As excited as he has been, he got no sleep on any of his flights and slept for 13 hours upon getting settled.

Pakistan is ten hours ahead of central time and for many of you reading this on the East Coast Pakistan is 9 hours ahead of your time. So talk about jet lag!
Isaiah could not speak with us for long, but it was very obvious how excited and happy he was.
Keep posted, I will be updating as I hear from him.

Keep him in your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, June 8, 2009

JFK is the most confusing airport! Fortunately they have good food. Btw I was one of two nonmiddleeast people in the Emirates line for 45 minutes.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I'm going to Broad Peak and Pakistan

Monday I leave for Pakistan. A little over a week later I will arrive at Broad Peak base camp. Sometime in the middle of July I will most likely have the chance to summit the mountain at 26,401 feet. Then I have a return flight back on July 31st and I arrive in the states August 1st. In between now and then I will be terrified, scared, happy, excited, nervous, elated, tired, hungry, and extremes of just about every emotion I've ever experienced. I know that many people are worried or excited for me or both. In this, my final long post until August, I'm going to address a few things people might be wondering about:

Why am I doing this? - In high school I learned that I liked hiking and backpacking and climbing mountains. When I tell people I like climbing mountains the question that often comes up is: Would you like to climb Mt. Everest? Well, I read the books and decided that yes I would like to at least attempt Mt. Everest. In order to actually get things done I find that it is better to set a deadline and have intermediate goals. I've done the winter climbs, the technical climbs, the winter technical climbs, the descents in the dark and rain, the heavy backpacks, the falls, the bleeding, the alpine starts, and I've learned so much about every form of climbing there is. The next step is an expedition. Now I could go on a 3-4 week expedition to Alaska or South America and I would get a lot of experience. However, I had planned on graduating this May and having one last big fling before I start working for the man. So if I'm going to take one vacation it might as well be two months rather than one month. As it happens the climbing season in Nepal/India/China is either premonsoon March-May or post monsoon August-October. In Pakistan the climbing season is June-August which fits in with a academic schedule better. Additionally, after seeing enough pictures of mountains it becomes evident that Pakistan is host to the steepest, most hardcore mountains in the world. If I am going to spend two months of my life learning how to get to and walk above 26,000 feet then this is the place and now is as good of a time as any. 

On a deeper level why do I climb in general? - Read this article about risk taking in climbing. Willi Unsoeld, first ascent west ridge everest, once said "it has to be real enough to kill you." It's hard to describe. I am a very safe climber but many of the most memorable moments I've ever had climbing are the ones when I am totally in the moment looking at the line between safe and unsafe or when my safety system is so basic that I try not to think of how few things are keeping me safe or when I'm hungry tired and it's getting dark out. It's a thrill ride but it's real. It's also very slow I mean a few hundred feet an hour is pretty typical so there is a lot of time to think about the turnaround time and traffic jams. For the most part nothing happens suddenly so it is relaxing in a prolonged stress sort of way instead of instant heart attack way. Also the view from the middle of a 600 foot tall cliff or on top of a tall mountain is pretty sweet.

Do I have a death wish? - No, read the stuff above. There is no fear or deadly drama in my life sitting at a desk. I could spend all of my time trying to live longer or I could spend my time living. 

On an unrelated note, what am I doing with my life when I get back from Pakistan? - Finishing my degree at WPI. As for the mountaineering company, if I find one investor I will start it. On a side note I am taking prototype one and two of the ice axe to Pakistan. 

How can you follow me and hear about my adventures? - Check back to my blog, which my sister will be updating, and also to the Field Touring Alpine Blog for this particular expedition. When I get back I plan to produce about a 90 minute documentary about my first expedition. I will most likely show it at a WPI Outing Club meeting in the fall. 

How can you support me? - Pray for me. If you are not Christian  you could become Christian. If the first two options are not enough for you I will accept cash and checks in any amount to help pay for my adventures and my student loans. Send donations to:
WPI Box 1678
Worcester, MA 01609 
I will even wear your logo and use your stuff if you give me money. 

Finally, friends and family, I love so many of you and you guys have been awesome. Just be ready when I come back more hardcore, confident, and experienced. I've been shaking up this world for years now but the real shaking begins in 2009. There will be changes because I will change things.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Twittering, Texting, and SMSing

World this is a cultural shift that is happening right now. The transmission of information in 140 or 160 characters and less. A way to cheaply and quickly send a message that conveys some piece of information. Every little message is a way to teach somebody or a group of people something. Every message allows the reader to learn something. It can also be very contextual. The meaning of the message is very dependent on who sends it and when he or she sends it (example: "get over here now!").

What this implies for our culture is not entirely clear yet. In the past communication was by long winded conversations and telephone calls. Of course in many circumstances throughout history a short message was enough to convey all of the necessary information (example: "the British are coming!") although those circumstances did not seem to pervade society in the way that texting is invading life now. With more ways that ever before to stay in contact with people we often feel that we have shallow relationships. It is like we are alone in a crowd. Technology is for us to use, but we are not supposed to be used by technology. 

Conversations can be carried out with exchanges of these short messages but I think their real power is either to ask and answer a single question or just to provide a piece of information. When there starts to be multiple questions and large pieces of information other forms of communication are more practical. It is a skill to be able to send short messages well. It must convey all the information and still make sense. A message with too many questions or made up abbreviations is not effective. 

Do not run away from short text messages, but use them to save time and say what you need or just what you want; however, keep in mind there are other forms of communication which can be more effective and can save time, confusion, and even money depending on the situation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Results of Climbing Company Name Poll

61% Janzen Gear, 33% Fitzroy Mountaineering, 5% Gorges Gear. 

Really? I mean naming a company after myself makes me nervous. The name has to be catchy and simple yet be associated with awesomeness. The personal name things has worked well in the auto, financial, and law business but never really caught on in the technology or outdoor industries. Of course in those latter two the names of animals, plants, and places has caught on.

Well, this gives me something to think about. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Now I've read about overtraining and I've watched it happen. It is not the number of miles you run or the number of hours you train. You can most likely train a whole lot harder than you ever have before. When I have seen it or experienced it in the past it has been from several recurring themes:
1. Never taking it easy. As a runner when your off day is an hour of biking or swimming and then a little lifting and your off season is less than a week you are flirting with burnout. Many very dedicated athletes train 40 hours a week but have a serious off season where their cortisol or adrenaline or whatever really gets a chance to rest.
2. School or work or personal life drama consume you. Attending a difficult engineering school caused my friends and I to stress out about important projects several times and performances to just plummet. 
3. Ramping up training too fast. Injuries happen this way too. One week you're running 30 miles a week, the next it's 50, and then 70 and then you get injured or feel tired all the time.

So train hard and take it easy!