It’s three months till the day I shall land on the Kahiltna Glacier. I had thought that I would be a mean machine by now, more muscle and power, some sort of invincible He Man. But no. I am just me, training bit by bit, ensuring I don’t peak too soon or just burn out, either mentally or physically. I am not even in as good shape as I had originally planned, which is bad, but I I’ll let myself off due to extenuating circumstances (read that as “I stepped on a rusty nail whilst doing farm work two weeks ago and am still recovering”).
Realistically I am planning on upping my training. I have chucked in a half marathon and a marathon before Denali, to build up stamina, not necessarily to go for a PB in either case. Training for either event, however, is stunted due to aforementioned nail that punctured the spot where my right big toe meets my foot. I have been able to do very short runs (10-30 minutes) and I have been doing some simple core exercises. Never underestimate how useful core strength is, for running or for any physical exercise.
On the soft training side, I have continued immersing myself in books about Denali, so when I get there, I will not be in shock if I am scorching in 30c sunshine followed by -40c nights or complete whiteouts. Meeting the rest of the team earlier in the year was great too- I can now visualise myself being tied in to any one of them, and hopefully I have endeared myself to them sufficiently that they will pull me out of a crevasse if needed and not just cut me loose!
One aspect of preparation that I have underestimated is the purchasing of kit. Friends who know me will find this hard to believe, but I just can’t find it! Despite being a regular in Helly Hansen, Snow and Rock, Ellis Brigham and Cotswolds, I still have not managed to get everything I need. Take boots, for example. Warm double boots are a given for Denali, so I was looking at La Sportiva Olympus Mons and Millet Everest. To try the Mons on, I was told by Cotswolds that they would have to order them in and they do not normally carry them in stock. When I went to Chamonix, I discovered that they are not made in anything larger than a European 47 anyway, ruling that out. Damn my big clodhopper feet! Millet (not to be mistaken with the low budget outdoor store currently in administration) is hard to find in the UK and I think I will have to make a pilgrimage to the Lake District to try on a pair, assuming they stock 47-48. I was also recommended the Kayland 8001 but that is even harder to find anywhere in the country. Sure, there are still other options, but for more and more items, from glacier glasses to the Outdoor Research Gorilla Balaclava, I am finding that I can’t find them in big cities in the UK for the love of money. Annoying, but when I’m on the big one I want to trust my kit!