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  Aspen Ski Cho Oyu / Everest 2007: Welcome to western Disneyland

April 13th, 2007: Weeeelllll, welcome to western Disneyland.  We headed off to the train station, it was absolutely amazing, but could not figure out why our tour contact wanted us to arrive Almost 4 hours in advance.   As it ended up, he despite taking our money almost 2 months ago, he didn't even have our tickets.  Major problem.  He came back, in a state of panic, rushed us off to one of the 20 train docs, and all hell broke loose.  We had a rush of panic in that we had about 2000 pounds of gear in 27 bags for 9 people traveling, and "get on the train; if you don't get on the train it will leave without you".  So like crazed animals we form a chain.  He said
your sleeper is #40-45.  So i am first on the car, and my initial reaction is that this is obviously not a sleeper, it is easily a hundred degrees, people are smoking like chimneys, and when i get to 40-45 realize there are two guys sitting in our seats, but that there is only room for 4 and we are 9.  We have obviously been totally hoodwinked by our operator. 

immediately start screaming to "get the gear the hell off this train; these guys are screwing us".  At this stage, if we don't get all that  gear off the train, and get ourselves off, that train leaves and we are forever separated, or worse case, we get off and our gear is doesn't.  I totally loose it on our operator and the conductor who at this time won't let the other guys on the train to help unload because the train is departing, and i literally grab him and yell "stop this f'ing train or i will smash your face".  By this time, half our gear is on the other end of the train with Jim, and they rush a guy through the car, he fumbles for his keys, finally gets another door open, and we get all the gear off the train. The conductor figures out we don't have permits to enter Tibet, is screaming at our operator.  In a final gasp, the last piece of gear is off the train, we are on the deck, and this decrepit, dirty, hot train pulls off.  It is a far cry from the glorious silver bullet train we saw on the Internet.  We find out later, that train is only good for the last 3 hours of a 48 hour trip.

With sweat dripping, we are left on a vacant train deck, at 10 at  night, with a fog of diesel smoke left over from what was the crazy train from hell.

The long and short of this was that our operator, failed to get us the first class sleepers we had anticipated, the train was nothing even remote to what we had researched, and we didn't even have visas for Tibet.

After returning to a hotel, regrouping, getting a good nights sleep, we utilized alternative resources,,,,,pulled a few string,,,,, rattled a
few cages,,,,, and have air tickets to lahsa for the AM; we will beat the train and get on with the trip.  All are in good spirits, and so goes life in China.  Lesson learned, don't try to take the glorious train across China.  It doesn't exist, at least in the form you would be lead to believe.  Thank God for small miracles. Mike

April 11th, 2007: Hello from Beijing:  We have arrived although expedition gear lags behind due to tight connections.  But the direct flight is the way to go.  We will get a good nights sleep, tour around the city, and then off to the train station for the ride overland to Tibet.   Will keep you up to speed as we proceed towards the mountains. Mike

Earlier: April 4, 2007  Training for high altitude skiing:

Often, one of the more common questions I get is how do you train for your ski expeditions.  My quick quip response is ski every chance I get. 

When you venture into the thin air above 7,000 meters, skiing has to be second nature.  We are blessed to have grown up in Aspen where skiing is a way of life for us.  The local mountains are literally our back yard, and before work, it is possible to climb to over 13,000 feet and then ski back down in a few of hours; we do this a couple days per week in the months right before a big trip. So that type of workout is really huge.  It is also very fun, so while it is the best possible training, the fun factor is what drives us to get out a couple times a week as part of the routine.

The Aspen Club and Spa located here in Aspen is also a huge part of the training.  This world class facility has state of the art training facilities that allow for weight training, endurance training machines for the essential speed workouts that happen at least once per week.  Beyond the necessary weight lifting which we do a couple days per week, we incorporate the “19 minute workout” routine.  It’s very simple; get on an elliptical climber or spinner bike.  Warm up for 5 minutes.  On minute five, go for 30 seconds as hard as you possibly can.  Rest for 90 seconds, and repeat the 30 second interval.  Do 8 of these, and by 19 minutes, if you were honest, you will be on the verge of throwing up, your legs and lungs will feel like balloons.  This routine once per week is really key.  It helps you to ultimately recover better from all workouts. It is also essential anaerobic training necessary for high altitude simulation of the thin air we will be skiing in. I absolutely hate it, but it really pays off in many different ways.

Also a huge part of our training is just skiing.  From my office, the lifts to Aspen Mountain are only a 5 minute walk.  So 3-4 days per week, I will hit the slopes for a late lunch break.  It usually only entails a couple of top to bottom non-stop runs, but it is a great break.  And doing the non-stops is also a great strength builder; To ski Aspen Mountain’s 3,300 feet by way of the numerous steeps, bumps, and difficult terrain, is to experience skiing at it’s best.  Throw in the competition of a brother or buddy, and the race is on.  Make sure you have a snot rag in your pocket; at the bottom you will need it.

So training really boils down to the life style we have become accustomed to here in Aspen.  We are very fortunate in that the lifestyle really trains us well for climbing and skiing in the higher peaks around the world.

Mike Marolt lives in Aspen and is a KPMG Peat Marwick alumni.

Dispatches 2007   and   Sponsors

To see there reports from earlier Everest Expedition see here.

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