Dec 16

Call me the (texting) tumbling dice

Aside from falling off the side of a mountain, drowning during a triathlon or simply slumping Padded_post over my desk after suffering a rogue heart attack, I think I know how I'll die. I'll be busy texting as I stride along one of Manhattan's side streets when, boom, I'll tumble head over heels into one of those sidewalk cellar doors that seem to always be in the fixed, upright and open position. That's where they'll find my body buried in produce, neck badly broken, hand still clutching the damn Blackberry.

I've already had a few close calls. That's why I'm thrilled to see there's a new iPhone application called Type n Walk. It was literally designed to save my life, since It provides a texting walker a view of what lies ahead.

Susan Dominus, a New York Times columnist, likens texting while walking to texting while driving. I disagree. It's one thing to be distracted while driving a 2,000 pound car at 65 mph. It's quite another to be walking slowly while texting. I'll admit the latter isn't smart or particularly healthy, but it's not necessarily jeopardizing other people's lives.

I can't wait to download the Type n Walk. I just hope it’s sensitive enough to pick up those damn, dark cellar doors. I'm worried they may one day become the iceberg to my RMS Titanic.

Sep 28

I am the happiest man in the world

September 28 - mountain

Those were the final words of 71-year-old multimillionaire Clifton Maloney, spoken shortly after successfully summiting the 26,000 ft-plus peak of Cho Oyu, the world's sixth highest peak. Maloney, the husband of U.S Representative Carolyn Maloney, went to sleep after making the comment and never woke up again.

What a way to go! If I could orchestrate my own passing, I'd do it the way Maloney did: accomplish something truly magnificent, share my post-event adrenaline high and then leave my friends and companions with some memorable words.

I'd hate to die behind a desk. Or, after being struck by a car or, god forbid, on the NJ Transit 7:28 to the city.

Not this blogger. I'd like to go right after 'killing' a stand-up comedy performance. Or, completing a grueling 18-mile run. Or, like Maloney, summiting a brutally-challenging peak.

We're not given the option of picking the time or place of our departure. But I'd like to think that, wherever he is at the moment, Clifton Maloney has to be pretty pleased with his manner of passing. He went out at the happiest moment of his 71 years on earth. To me, that's living.

Jun 02

Mo knows

I'm a huge dog person. Always have been. Always will be. Named my agency after our black lab, Pepper. Love hanging out with our two current pooches, Mick and Rooney. But, for all my contact with canines over the years, I never thought I'd have a dog to thank for leading me to the summit of one very tough mountain peak.

June 2 - mountain

Last weekend, 'Repman, Jr,' his buddy, Mark, and I attempted to climb 14,197 ft Mt. Belford in Buena Vista, Colorado. We'd been warned we might encounter snow and ice near the summit, but nothing prepared us for the whiteout conditions we hit about 2,000 feet below the peak. It was too intense and, since we were climbing without our friend and guide, Stafford Davis (a victim of altitude sickness), we decided to turn around.

We were bummed. But, with the snow howling and the wind intensifying, it was the smart, sensible thing to do. And, then, after about 500 feet of descent, we spied a couple and their dog happily making their way towards us. 

They were locals who knew the mountain well. They told us the snow would let up (it never did, btw) and to just follow their dog, Mo (short for Mohave. They'd found him abandoned in the Mohave Desert and rescued him).

So, with more than a little trepidation, we shrugged our shoulders, retraced our steps and followed Mo, which wasn't easy. Mo adored climbing in the snow. He'd bound ahead of us at Mach speed and then stop and roll around in the two-foot snow drifts. The pooch really lifted our spirits, gave us a canine compass to follow and, sure enough, after a few more grueling hours, led us to the peak.

June 2 - hiking

Aside from a pat on the head, I never had a chance to properly thank our guardian angel of a dog. So, here's to you Mo. There's definitely a place in dog heaven for you.

Apr 06

The wee Ben

It’s taken awhile, but I’ve finally figured out why I love mountain climbing so much. It isn’t 
the challenge, although that’s part of it. And, it isn’t the sense of accomplishment, althoughIMG_0374
that’s huge. For me, it’s the profound 
physical, mental and spiritual experience of the event itself.

This past week, Chris RepMan, Jr., and this blogger climbed Scotland’s Ben Nevis, the highest point in the U.K. While it isn’t much when stacked up against Kilimanjaro, Mt. Shasta or some of the Rockies we’ve attacked, the ‘wee Ben’ is one tough slog.

We hired a local guide, Peter Khambatta, to take us to the top. I asked Peter at the base what we could expect. He replied by saying the wee Ben was “…a good workout in the summer, but a right beast in the winter.” He was IMG_0361
spot on.

The climb began in gorgeous, rolling hills that quickly escalated to steep, hilly inclines. These, in turn, gave way to even steeper, icy sections. Near the top, we were slowed down by two to three-foot deep snowdrifts, brutally high winds and total whiteout conditions. Without Peter, we would have been totally lost. I told Chris I felt more like a member of the Ernest Shackleton expedition than a mountain climber in Scotland. The conditions were so bleak that Peter stopped every 50 feet or so to get his bearings on a compass. Afterwards, he told us the wee Ben claims a few lives every winter when unsuspecting, snow blind climbers walk right off the edge.

Happily, that didn’t happen to us. We reached the summit in four hours and spent a few minutes in the howling wind enjoying the conquest. The climb down was no picnic either, but it provided a sensory overload of amazing panoramic views in every direction. We saw ice blue lochs, green and purple valleys and, in the distance, the fabled Isle of Skye.

Through it all, the sense of peace, silence and serenity was truly overwhelming.

The beautiful thing about climbing is the single-minded focus it demands. I was laser-focused on each and every step for seven-plus hours, knowing that a misstep could cause a broken ankle or worse. When we finally reached the base, the relief was palpable. And, the endorphin rush was more intense than after any half-marathon I’ve ever finished.

My body ached, but my mind felt totally refreshed. In fact, even though I’d probably just expended some 2,500 calories or more, I felt like I’d taken a long, restful nap. It was that profound.

I don’t recommend climbing for everyone. But, I do recommend some hobby or avocation that takes one’s mind off the credit  crunch, the credit crunch, finding a job or dealing with the client who’s put your account up for review, but says not to worry because the incumbent always has the advantage.

We can’t control a runaway recession or a disloyal client, but we can dictate how we live our lives. For me, climbing mountains is living life to the max.