Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Woman Who Has Climbed Mt. Everest Shares 4 Secrets That Will Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals



Running-M2woman
I don’t really know what comes to mind for you when you think of a very fit person, but I’m pretty sure that you will not disagree with me when I say that any person who climbs Mt. Everest is likely to be fit… like scarily fit.

Having conquered Mt. Everest six times, professional mountain climber Melissa Arnot knows a thing or two about getting fit. Having also set a world record for being the first woman to successfully climb the mountain without using supplemental oxygen, there is no denying that Arnot is basically the definition of #fitspo.

In a rare interview with POPSUGAR, Arnot shared some seriously good tips for how normal people, like you and I, can reach our fitness goals. You may not be climbing the tallest mountain the the world, but no matter if your goal is to run 2km without stopping, complete a marathon, or go on a challenging weekend hike, these tips will help you to get there.

1. Set small goals

For Arnot, climbing Everest wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, but something that she worked towards for years. Arnot says that the key to reaching your goals is to set yourself a series of small goals as you work towards your ultimate goal.
“You have to hike to base camp before you climb to camp one. You have to get to camp one before you get to camp two. That is metaphorical and actual,” says Arnot.

2. Don’t be discouraged by failure

If you’re on a fitness journey, chances are that are some point you are going to feel like you have failed. Arnot says that the key to overcoming failure is to be prepared for it and refuse to let it get to you.
“I have achieved way fewer goals than I have failed at,” says Arnot. “And I’ve failed at way more things than I’ve tried to do. It sounds slightly cliche, but it’s very true that the summit is for the ego, and the journey is for the soul.”

3. Seek out some support

“I have always been an independent person and set on doing things my own way, but to be able to be successful with this goal I had to accept help,” says Arnot. “I accepted the help of my climbing partner, who is my boyfriend, and accepting help is what led to my success. And that’s not a point of weakness, it’s a point of strength.”

4. Understand your limits

While pushing yourself is one of the best parts of working towards your fitness goals, Arnot says that it is also important to know your personal limits. “That’s one of the great gifts about any sort of athletics, is that you start to be able to have a conversation with your body,” Arnot says.”It starts to tell you things that you can listen to, and you start to know your voice: ‘That little tweak to my knee is not just discomfort, that’s actually pain and there’s a problem there.”
Overall Arnot says that your own personal health and well-being will always be more important than any goal you set yourself. Work hard and smash those goals, but don’t forget to look after yourself along the way. After all, no fitness goal is worth ruining your body for.

For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

'Standing on top of Mt Everest was my life's best moment'


K Sivakumar, havildhar attached to the Madras Regimental Centre in Wellington, is the first person in Tamil Nadu to have climbed the Mount Everest as part of an army mountaineering expedition this May. He is presently posted at II Madras in Sikkim. On his first visit, after the expedition, to his home town Lovedale near Ooty, K Sivakumar talks to TOI's Shantha Thiagaragan on his inspiration and challenges faced in climbing Mount Everest.

What gave you the inspiration to climb Mount Everest? I joined the army in 2001. In 2004, I was sent to Mountaineering Training School in Gulmarg, Kashmir, for six months training. I passed out with 80 per cent score in the training. Initially, I drew inspiration from other army personnel in the training. But my motivation was heightened when I got posted at the same training school as my instructor for four years. During those years, I got the chance to climb six peaks in Ladak, Utharanjal and Himalaya while training army students.

Have you attempted to climb the Everest before?
Yes. In November 2014, a team of army personnel had planned to scale Mount Everest to celebrate fifty years of climbing the mountain by the army. But unfortunately, the expedition was cancelled midway due to an earth quake on April 25, 2015. The Nepal government had also cancelled permission to access the Everest. During that time 18 people died and around 60 were injured.

How do you handle the disappointment?
The experience only gave me more courage and hope. In November 2015, a team of 30 members were sent for training in army camps in New Delhi for two months. Out of the 30 people, two seven-member teams were selected to climb Mount Everest. I was fortunate to have been chosen. We reached Kathmandu on March 30 and on April 5 we started our Everest expedition.

How did you manage the low oxygen level and rations on your expedition?
As the oxygen level is very low after 7000 meters, we could not eat but we needed energy. Part of our ration included energy bars and drinks which helped us get through the expedition. The oxygen was part of our mountaineering costume. It took us 25 days to reach Mount Everest and return to Kathmandu.

How did you feel when you reached the highest peak? On May 19, after crossing several army base camps, we reached the very top of the mountain. Words cannot express how I felt when I reached the peak. I just could not believe I had actually climbed the Everest. It took several days for the achievement to sink in. Standing there at the top was the best moment of my life. We stayed there for 20 minutes to take pictures and videos as evidences.

Did you ever think that one day you would climb Mount Everest?
I was an athlete when I was in school. However, mountaineering never crossed my mind. Only after joining the army, I developed a passion for mountaineering. If not for the army and support from my family, I could not have achieved this goal.

How does it feel to return home after scaling the highest mountain?
It is very refreshing to return home and spend time with family. 


For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Everest, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Kilimanjaro, CLICK HERE
Follow Charles Irion on Twitter HERE
Friend Charles Irion on Facebook HERE
Visit Charles Irion's YouTube channel HERE 

'Standing on top of Mt Everest was my life's best moment'


K Sivakumar, havildhar attached to the Madras Regimental Centre in Wellington, is the first person in Tamil Nadu to have climbed the Mount Everest as part of an army mountaineering expedition this May. He is presently posted at II Madras in Sikkim. On his first visit, after the expedition, to his home town Lovedale near Ooty, K Sivakumar talks to TOI's Shantha Thiagaragan on his inspiration and challenges faced in climbing Mount Everest.

What gave you the inspiration to climb Mount Everest? I joined the army in 2001. In 2004, I was sent to Mountaineering Training School in Gulmarg, Kashmir, for six months training. I passed out with 80 per cent score in the training. Initially, I drew inspiration from other army personnel in the training. But my motivation was heightened when I got posted at the same training school as my instructor for four years. During those years, I got the chance to climb six peaks in Ladak, Utharanjal and Himalaya while training army students.

Have you attempted to climb the Everest before?
Yes. In November 2014, a team of army personnel had planned to scale Mount Everest to celebrate fifty years of climbing the mountain by the army. But unfortunately, the expedition was cancelled midway due to an earth quake on April 25, 2015. The Nepal government had also cancelled permission to access the Everest. During that time 18 people died and around 60 were injured.

How do you handle the disappointment?
The experience only gave me more courage and hope. In November 2015, a team of 30 members were sent for training in army camps in New Delhi for two months. Out of the 30 people, two seven-member teams were selected to climb Mount Everest. I was fortunate to have been chosen. We reached Kathmandu on March 30 and on April 5 we started our Everest expedition.

How did you manage the low oxygen level and rations on your expedition?
As the oxygen level is very low after 7000 meters, we could not eat but we needed energy. Part of our ration included energy bars and drinks which helped us get through the expedition. The oxygen was part of our mountaineering costume. It took us 25 days to reach Mount Everest and return to Kathmandu.

How did you feel when you reached the highest peak? On May 19, after crossing several army base camps, we reached the very top of the mountain. Words cannot express how I felt when I reached the peak. I just could not believe I had actually climbed the Everest. It took several days for the achievement to sink in. Standing there at the top was the best moment of my life. We stayed there for 20 minutes to take pictures and videos as evidences.

Did you ever think that one day you would climb Mount Everest?
I was an athlete when I was in school. However, mountaineering never crossed my mind. Only after joining the army, I developed a passion for mountaineering. If not for the army and support from my family, I could not have achieved this goal.

How does it feel to return home after scaling the highest mountain?
It is very refreshing to return home and spend time with family. 


For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Everest, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Kilimanjaro, CLICK HERE
Follow Charles Irion on Twitter HERE
Friend Charles Irion on Facebook HERE
Visit Charles Irion's YouTube channel HERE 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Scientists trek to Everest to unlock mysteries of the brain

by Suzanne Ahearne
Monks with EEG monitors. Credit: University of Victoria
For decades, scientists have brought monks and others into their labs to measure their brain activity while meditating. Now, for the first time, scientists trekked to the remote Mt. Everest region of Nepal to record the brain activity of meditating Tibetan Buddhist monks in their own monasteries.
They came back with new findings about the human brain—and the benefits of meditation.
The study was conducted in May of this year as part of a University of Victoria (UVic) and University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus (UBCO) joint research venture. The study was led by UVic neuroscientist Olav Krigolson with Gordon Binsted, dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Development at UBCO.

Whether you call it meditation or mindfulness, there's no doubt that humans are able to achieve a "brain state" during which they are happy, thoughtful and focused. "Scientists have quantified this, finding that deep levels of meditation are correlated with differences in electrical signals produced by neurons," says Krigolson. "We have this evidence but no one really knows how it works."
Using a headband-sized electroencephalography (EEG) system, with its software unlocked and modified for research purposes, Krigolson and Binsted set out to provide more insight into what the corresponding neural activity means.

With a sample size of 27 monks from Namche and Tengboche monasteries, Krigolson says "we now have a clearer picture of what's happening during meditation."
Credit: University of Victoria
In line with previous work, preliminary findings show increases in during meditation. Specifically, they're seeing increased alpha activity (associated with relaxation), beta activity (associated with focus) and gamma activity (associated with increased synchronicity in the brain) during meditation as opposed to rest.

Further, they found that neural responses to visual stimuli were enhanced after focused attention meditation—a new finding.

"What these preliminary findings tell us, is that there is a potential that intentional brain training techniques such as can have long-lasting effects on brain function," says Binsted. "Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how this and future research can be used in everything from strategies for teachers to the development of mindfulness apps on smartphones."
Credit: University of Victoria
Concurrent with the monk study, Krigolson and Binsted travelled to Everest Base Camp as part of a larger international group of researchers studying the effects of altitude on bodily functions.

"We hardly know anything about the brain," says Krigolson. "We know very little about how people learn and make decisions. All this research is designed to create a picture some day about how the brain works... and there are currently a lot of missing pieces to the story."

Krigolson and Binsted's research using the portable EEG system in the Himalayas has been an extreme usability field test for other research such as the effects of fatigue in medical, industrial and educational settings.

For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

8 Things I Learned From Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Maria Popo President of a Tech Company. Founder of a Non-Profit. Leader of the Unnervingly Brilliant.
2016-04-21-1461262929-6712826-IMG_1557.jpg
I recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the seven summits and the highest peak in Africa at 19,341 feet. Here are my post-climb observations.
8. Climbing one of the seven summits makes you “skinny.” I wanted to be sure I could physically make it to the top of the mountain and survive the experience, so I became a running, spinning, kickboxing, weightlifting fool for at least eight weeks before the climb. I lost over ten pounds finally becoming my version of skinny.
7. Climbing one of the seven summits makes you cool. You’re cool if you do something that seems slightly stupid and physically difficult, so upon my return I posted photos of the trek. The unanimous feedback was that I am incredibly impressive and inspirational!
6. Skinny and cool lasts less than six weeks. The weight is now back. My social media friends have since moved on to the slightly stupid and physically difficult challenge of a friend who ate 12 hot dogs in one sitting.
5. Enjoy the journey. My experience climbing Kilimanjaro was undoubtedly different from everyone else. While we were hiking, I was almost never smiling, usually deep in thought. It could have seemed that I hated the trek or was sick. I wasn’t feeling any of those things. I was just working hard to get my ass up the mountain. If I could rewind time, I’d work on being more engaged in every moment as it was happening.
4. The adventure was even better AFTER the trip. Although energized when we finally reached the summit, I appreciate the experience so much more now as I reflect back. The photos and videos are reminders of what I accomplished that I didn’t fully recognize during the trek itself.
3. You forget about being perfect when in survival mode (and you should do this more often). On day 5 of the climb we ascended Barranco Wall, a 1000 ft. vertical climb up and down. As we traversed the wall, the head guide kept assisting me. At first I wondered why he was helping ME. Was I not I good enough? Too slow? Not strong enough? My thoughts changed quickly. After just a couple minutes of busting my butt stepping straight up over rocks, I clutched his helping hand with gratitude much to the happiness of my fatiguing muscles. It didn’t matter how I scrambled to the top of the rock wall. The goal was to get up there! In that moment, I didn’t care what others thought of my need for help and the reality is they didn’t think anything of it. They were happy to see me successful.
2. Motivation comes from unexpected sources. Before this trip, I had never hiked up mountains or slept in tents. I embraced the trek as a fit person with a good chance of making it due to a 7-day approach and being accustomed to the altitude in Denver. When we started the climb, it was clear that the others were more experienced. They felt comfortable in their hiking boots. They were faster and more agile. Instead of feeling lifted by their ease and confidence, I wondered why I even attempted the trip. The second day, it was the other least experienced hiker that motivated me through her own self-questioning but steadfast determination. Plus, she told ME that I motivated HER! Therefore, failure was not an option for either of us. Through mutual encouragement including that of our guides and fellow hikers, we made it to the top. Moral of the story: You don’t have to be the best to inspire others. You inspire them through your understanding, authenticity, laughter and collaboration towards the common goal.
1. The people were the BEST part of the adventure. The main reason I accepted the Kili challenge was because two extraordinary women invited me. Laurel Werner had climbed Kilimanjaro the previous year with her family. Laurel was so moved by the experience that she created the Kilimanjaro Technology Foundation to support rural African communities in Tanzania. You can find the KiliTech website HERE. Next was Nomi Bergman, President of Bright House Networks, which is currently being sold to Charter Communications in a deal valued over $10 billion. Nomi is well known in the cable industry for her operations, technology and leadership savvy. How could I possibly say no to such an unbelievable journey with such fantastic women?
It gets even better. The remaining three trekkers that we met on the trip were, Ann Oppenheim, Bob Hand and Christina Lane, each one incredibly funny and special. Plus our team of guides, porters and kitchen support were genuinely caring people. Head guide and master motivator was Onesphory Mtui. Thanks to all of these people our entire adventure was wrapped in laughter and joy.
Yes, we made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro together. It was a life experience I’ll never forget. Thomson Safaris was our tour company and made sure we were prepared, safe and comfortable as possible. For those that are interested in what the trek was like, HERE is a video pieced together by Nomi’s daughter, Dori. We’re grateful to her for taking the time to create it. Enjoy!

For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Everest, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Kilimanjaro, CLICK HERE
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Monday, May 2, 2016

Bodies of world-class climber, cameraman may have been found 16 years later

Thursday, April 21, 2016

9 things no one ever tells you about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro is a climb of 19,340 feet through all kinds of terrain and vastly fluctuating temperatures.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is a climb of 19,340 feet through all kinds of terrain and vastly fluctuating temperatures. 

When my husband-to-be asked what I wanted to do for our honeymoon, I was stumped. I’m a travel editor. I’d traveled all over the world. We’d met in the Galapagos. How do you top that? Do you even try?

We both love adventure and the outdoors, and we wanted a once-in-a-lifetime trip that would leave us with a sense of accomplishment, not just a tan.

Then one night it hit me: “We’ll climb a mountain!” What better way to start a marriage than by scaling a high peak together? How symbolic. I paused and added, “What mountain can we climb without a lot of training or ropes?”
There are plenty of mountains where you can do that in the U.S.; Colorado alone is filled with them. But this was our honeymoon, and we wanted to get away, far away, to a land without cell service. All the way to Tanzania.

Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest and most recognizable mountain in Africa, fit the bill. It takes hikers through five different ecosystems – from rainforest to alpine desert to arctic snowcap – and climbing 19,340 feet to the top is one of the most empowering adventures you can experience without serious training.

About 35,000 people begin the climb each year. How many reach the summit is an elusive statistic.
We hooked up with the adventure travel company Intrepid, because it has a wide variety of dates for different climbs and a good track record for getting people to the top.

“Kili” climbs take anywhere from five to nine days, depending on your route and how much time you want to take to acclimate to the altitude. All tourists must register at the base and climb with a licensed guide. And at a cost of several thousand dollars, this isn’t something you do on a whim. This is one for the bucket list.

I researched the climb before we left, but there are things I know now that I wish I’d known before I got there. They would have made the climb easier, more enjoyable and less uncomfortable.

1. Kilimanjaro is hard work. The literature describes it as a walk, but just because you don't need special equipment doesn't mean it’s easy. Parts of the trail are very steep and feel like they go on forever. There are sections filled with 2-foot-high boulders that feel like a StairMaster on level 27.

2. Nothing on the mountain will kill you. Except lack of oxygen, which is why you need to acclimate to the altitude. But I wish I’d known we were safe during our first night in an A-frame hut at the Mandara camp. There is an animal that shrieks at night and sounds like it could tear you from limb to limb. It’s a harmless tree hyrax – no bigger than a cat – but I promise it will keep you from getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
3. Toilet paper is currency. I stole a large role of extra-soft toilet paper from the last hotel I stayed in when I was told, at the last minute, that we needed to carry our own TP. And because I had it, I was all of a sudden rich. People would trade candy bars, ibuprofen and, in one case, a delicious block of cheese just for something soft to wipe with. There are bathrooms – long drop toilets – at the camp on Kilimanjaro, but they aren’t stocked with any amenities, including toilet paper. By the way, the only place to go while you’re hiking is in the bushes, often with a crowd of tourists watching you and waving. Our Intrepid guide, Justaz Molel, described them as LWVs – Loos With a View. The problem was the view often went both ways.

4. Your sweat will freeze. And it’s gross. The temperatures reach over 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and sink to below zero at night, and it’s unlikely you’ll take a shower during the approximately six days you’ll be on the mountain. You may find a shower at one of the camps, but the water will be frigid. Better to remain dirty and very, very smelly.

5. It’s not always easy on a relationship. Many of the guides will laugh when you tell them you’re doing this on your honeymoon. While some couples find the climb empowering, others actually break up on the mountain. We heard that one honeymooning husband left his new wife alone on the mountain because the climb caused them to fight so much.

6. You need to slow down. Your guides want you to go “pole pole” – Swahili for “slow.” It’s in their best interest, because you’ll give them good reviews if you make it to the top and avoid altitude sickness. But other members of your group may have a different definition of slow. When you start a climb, there is intense peer pressure to “stay with the group.” Our group was composed of very active, very adventurous Australians, and trying to keep up with them made me weep on our first day. I also felt like the mountain passed me by. I hardly remembered anything except staring at my feet, willing them to go faster as my breath grew more ragged. On our second day, one of our guides saw how much I was hurting, grabbed my shoulders and said, “Pole, pole.” While the rest of the group sped ahead, I slowed down. Not only did I feel better, but I noticed things like glacial streams rushing over boulders, chameleons hiding in the branches and butterflies as big as your hand with perfect white polka dots.

7. There are a lot of senior citizens on the mountain. This is either inspiring or, if you are huffing and puffing your way up, incredibly demoralizing. I chose to feel empowered. “Look, honey,” I said to my husband. “If we stay quite fit we can do this again in 30 years.” I didn’t get a response.

8. It is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever be. So much of the literature talks about the physical aspect of the climb, about pushing yourself to your limits. It talks about the gorgeous view from Uhuru, the summit of Kibo peak. But what we don’t hear enough is that the entire climb is beautiful and other-worldly. So many climbers were so focused on Uhuru, they hardly noticed Mwenzi, the craggy second peak of Kilimanjaro that looms ominously over climbers, since it is near-impossible to climb. They don’t frolic through the willowy elephant grass or take the extra hour to look at some of the clearest night skies in the world.
9. You can be in the best shape of your life and fail to reach the summit. Altitude sickness is an equal opportunity bully. You may be able to run marathons, but the vomiting, nausea and sometimes hallucinations can knock you out well before you reach 19,000 feet. My husband and I are youngish and in good shape. I run almost every day and he goes rock climbing twice a week. Still, altitude sickness was not our friend. We had to bail at 16,000 feet with headaches and nausea worse than any hangover. My husband imagined he saw fish flopping on rocks in the alpine desert. We had to go down or risk serious illness.

Would knowing these tips have somehow changed that? Maybe. Would I do the climb again, knowing we wouldn’t make it to the very, very top? Absolutely.

For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Everest, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Kilimanjaro, CLICK HERE
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