SH: I’m a 40 year old Alpinist living in Colorado. I work for Patagonia developing technical product and consult with other climbing brands including Grivel (ice climbing gear), Metolius (rock climbing gear), and LaSportiva for boots. I am also an author, having published my first book, Beyond the Mountain, in 2009. I am currently working on a second book entitled Training for Alpine Climbing that will be released in Spring ’12.
SGPT: How did you get started in climbing?
SH: My parents started me in climbing as a child, it was a natural extension of the backpacking, fly-fishing, river-rafting, and skiing that we did.
SGPT: Who were your early mentors and climbers who inspired you.
SH: My original idosl were Reinhold Messner and Herman Buhl, both of who coincidently had close ties to the mountain, Nanga Parbat, (a 26,660′ giant that is the ninth highest in the world) that would become most important to me in my 30’s.
SGPT: What made you gravitate towards high-altitude climbing?
SH: I was interested in all types of climbing, but I think my skill-set predisposed me to excelling in climbing difficult, technical routes in big mountains.
SGPT: You are a supporter of the “alpine style” of climbing. Tell us more about that style of climbing and why does it appeal to you.
SH: Alpine style climbing is where you climb a mountain, from bottom to top, in one go, sometimes making bivouacs along the way, sometimes climbing for 20, 30 or even as long as 60 hours. You climb with only the equipment that you can carry with you. You don’t use any sherpas, fixed ropes, or bottled oxygen. All these are considered as unfair aids.
SGPT: What would you consider as your hardest climb physically? Mentally?
SH: The hardest climb physically was undoubtedly Nanga Parbat. We were climbing for eight days, we had relatively little rest each night, we carried everything with us up and down the biggest mountain wall in the world (14,500 feet of vertical relief). It took my body about 18 months to fully recover from that effort.
Mentally my most difficult climb was on K7, one year earlier, because I was climbing solo while trying to open a new route. This was dangerous and committing and I had to constantly adapt my approach, timing, strategy to ultimately be successful. It took me seven attempts spread over two summers.
SGPT: What types of physical training (other than climbing) do you do to get ready for an expedition? Do you trail run as a supplement to your training regimen?
SH: I try to do as much of my volume as possible as climbing. When I can’t do that, or just need a change, I primarily rely on the road-bike. I find that it gives me a great low-impact way to log plenty of hours. I used to trail run more, I ran competitively through high school, but as I’ve aged I’ve found that the aches get in the way of getting enough volume.
SGPT: Can you tell us more about your expedition coming up in late March 2011?
SH: I just returned from an expedition to Makalu, the fifth highest peak in the world (photo attached) It was my third expedition there, but I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t have the legs for such a big climb largely due to the accident I had in March 2010 where I fractured my pelvis in two places, my ribs in 20, and lacerated a number of internal organs, including my right lung which filled with blood. Part of that accident was nerve damage to my right leg (from the impact to my pelvis) and that leg isn’t 100% yet, but it is getting better. In fact, it got strong throughout the expedition.
SGPT: Many thanks for the interview, we greatly appreciate it. Good luck on your big trip and climb in Nepal.
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About the Author:
Brad McLeod knows first hand about mental toughness after being kicked out of a top tier Spec Ops training unit. He failed out of BUD/S the first time after failing a math test (made it through Hell Week and Dive Pool Comp). He came back a year later and graduated and served as an operator on the Navy SEAL Teams.
Today, he helps Veterans and athletes achieve their goals. What is your goal? Lets work together to accomplish it.