Bierstadt failure but epic success

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Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby brianb10 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:49 am

I didn't think this qualified as a trip report but it is nonetheless a worthy story to share.

Today I took my stepson on an attempt at Bierstadt. He is 17 and does not get out of the house much. He's been diagnosed with Asperger's (a form of autism) since he was 12and has not had the best of childhoods between all the medicines and therapy and everything else associated with it. Anyways since last summer when we drove up Evans he has been wanting to climb a 14'er for real and not drive up it. I figured this would be perfect for him because he would be able to say he really accomplished something and that would do wonders for his confidence.

I know he thought it would be easy, just a simple hike in the woods no big deal. The boy was humbled today! He knew he was out of shape but did not realize that he was out of shape this badly. He was huffing and puffing from the first steps. He said he felt nauseous and wanted to throw up but couldn't. He did not have any dizziness or headaches so I figured this had more to do with his choice of a chorizo breakfast burrito than altitude sickness. We made it about 1.5 miles up the trail before he finally admitted he wanted to go back. All the way back down he kept saying he felt bad that we drove all this way for nothing and he was sorry that I did not get to the top. I had told him the whole way up that we either make it together or we go back to the car together. Truth was (and I told him as much) that I was proud of him for a) getting up at 0400 and just getting out and trying and b) for being strong enough to say I can't do this today. The worst thing possible would have been for him to gut it out and really get sick or hurt and then hate the mountains and the outdoors for the rest of his life.

So how was this an epic success? He is very mad that the mountain won today. He wants to come back and beat it. Without knowing him personally you may not appreciate how important that is. Until today he has gone through life just getting by, never wanting anything, never having any goals or aspirations. Now he wants to get in shape and go back and make it to the top. We have an appointment with the treadmill tomorrow. He may not realize it but he turned a corner today and it was all because of a mountain. Anyone want to tell me now that kids being outdoors is not a good thing? (I am being sarcastic, no one in this audience would ever think that).

Today was a pretty special day even without a summit. Thanks for letting me share.
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby cftbq » Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:22 am

Very cool. You did the right thing; he did the right thing. "Easy" and "hard" are relative terms. But you're right about one very important thing: There's nothing like actually getting out there, seeing that summit looking so close that it seems you could reach out and touch it, to motivate you into getting your priorities straightened out. Best of luck on future climbs!
I have been to the mountaintop, and I have seen the force
and the power that animates the universe. That may not
match up with your anthropomorphic or teleological idea of
what "god" is, but it's good enough for me.
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby Smilin Joe » Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:26 am

Fantastic!! Congrats to you both.
Life's a journey, not a destination.....slow down and enjoy the trip!
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby alexander55 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:15 pm

Congratulations. The note that "easy" and "hard" are relative terms is (in my judgement) a VERY important point. They are ALL 14ers and as such much be trained for and respected. Well done!
"What you are in God's eyes is what you are - and nothing more."
St. Francis of Assisi
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby Dezelrig » Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:22 pm

Excellent tale of mountaineering. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby tbaileymd » Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:30 pm

Good for him, wanting more after coming up short. Now he knows how big a task it is, and can focus on preparing for it.

My son has autism spectrum (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), and at three he climbed a lot of Mt. Hale, NH. I carried him on my back when he was tired for a bit. This year, he hiked much better when we went up Chimney Tops, in the Smokies. We stopped about 75 feet from the top, because his four year old legs aren't quite long enough. He has some problems with lack of focus (distracted by power lines, other straight lines) in his day to day life, but is focused as can be while on the trail. The distractions that he usually has to work at suppressing just aren't there when we're hiking. On the trail, his memory and focus really shine.

Good luck and keep climbing.
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby BobbyFinn » Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:25 pm

I had a similar epiphany about getting in shape - it's made all the difference.

That's an inspirational story you just told - keep getting him out there!
"Mind what you have learned. Save you it can." - Yoda
"Rudeness is a weak person's imitation of strength." - Paul Arel
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby radiate17 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:03 pm

I think it is amazing when people get out and give it their all. Every mountaineer has a story of the summit they didnt make, but we all keep trying. Thanks for your story and good luck to both you and your son on future climbs! \:D/

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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby rlw49 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:57 am

excellant post, next time watch his breakfast a little more closely. ha
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby Duffus Kentucky Climber » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:23 am

One has to develope a passion for something in life for it to be meaningful. It sounds like a breakthrough in that you see he can be passionate to acheive a goal! Just like climbing, little steps are what get you there. =D>
It looks like the ridge is just right up there!
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Re: Bierstadt failure but epic success

Postby whoopi_cat » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:59 am

If the Asperger's/Autism diagnoses had been around when I was that age, I would have gotten them all, and a few more to boot. If my nose wasn't in a Dragonlance novel, it was Clan of the Cave Bear. I didn't have any friends at school. And out-of-shape didn't even begin to cover it. You know the story. As it was, I landed in biofeedback and a few other then-fashionable treatments for kids.

But then, freshmen year in high school I read a story about a British kid who took up bike racing even though his dad was the local boxing coach. I figured I had a bike and I should try it, too. There weren't any juniors races in Ohio at that time, so I subscribed to Velonews. [It was a newsprint tabloid at the time with only a few color pictures per issue. I miss those days.] But they'd occasionally publish the pros' training schedules, and I'd try to approximate them on my probably-30-pound Pugh. [God, I hope that brand is out of existence now. Probably, it got sold to diamondback. ;-> ]

These years later, I have marathons, triathlons and mountains under my belt, and my public-speaking skills are such that two very dear friends of mine asked me to perform their marriage ceremony next summer.

I can't attribute all that to bike racing. But I can tell you that was the moment I decided I wasn't beaten.

Like climbing, it's not an easy road this little guy is on. But I can tell you from experience that it's ultimately immensely rewarding.

Whoopi Cat
"It is the only way to get to the universe; bet everything every single step forward."

- Wayne Hale, Jr. Flight Commander, Space Shuttle Columbia.

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