T-2: Recap

We left the house around noon’ish today and head out to Ashford to start this adventure.   We arrived at Ashford around 2:30pm and picked up some of our gear.   As a sponsor of the event, RMI gave us helmet, harness with locking carabiner and avalanche receiver for free to all the climber.   Since I had done the climbing on 2005, I didn’t need to rent any other gear.

Shortly after, we gathered under one of their tent and we brought our pack and the rest of our gear so the guide can inspect it and make sure we have everything we need.   Laura, our event manager gave us our swag and I got an additional bonus — an ice axe that personalize with my name.   Pretty awesome!

My personalize Ice Axe!

We started the afternoon by an orientation by our lead guide, Jake Beren.    He’s been with RMI for 5 years and been all over the place.   We sat down inside the lounge at the base camp and introduce ourselves, where we come from, why are we doing this, etc.   Then he went over some presentation about the route, what to expect and the schedule for the next 3 days.      We chatted for about an hour, did a little bit of Q&A session and we moved on to a gear check.

He went over some of the gear, starting from the ground (boots) to the top (helmet).   It was interesting to see tip and tricks he show on how to pack efficiently, such as, put your snack inside your parka pocket so when you are at 12,000ft, with a strong wind – you don’t have to dig inside your pack for a snack.   You put your parka on, there reach inside the pocket and there’s your snack.    After that, he started to go over our gear individually.   I got everything okay, other than my thick mittens.   He told me that mine wasn’t warm enough, so I need to get a different one.   So I rented this one.

We wrapped up the afternoon around 5pm.   Tomorrow we are going for a climb school and we are meeting at the same place at 8:15am.

That’s it for today!   I’m hoping for a decent weather.  It’s rainy here and somewhat cold.   Forecast tomorrow said that it will be partly cloudy with a chance of shower (yes, that’s Seattle weather) and it will be 53 degrees at Paradise to start of.

Thank you for everybody’s tweet today!  I only have internet access here at the basecamp.   I’ll try to update daily on what’s going on until the time I’m out in the mountain.


T-2: Climb for Clean Air

In a few hours, I’ll be heading out to Ashford and meet the rest of my climb team.   Rainier Mountaineering Inc. (RMI) is the chosen guide services for this climb.   They have been around for years founded by Lou Whittaker, which is the pioneer and legend on the mountaineering world.   Lou also serve as honorary chairman of American Lung Association Washington for this event.      There are total nine of us on this climb team and we will be divided into three rope team.     Today’s agenda is gear check and orientation.

Gear Check

RMI guides will ask us to lay all of our gear in the ground so they can go over it and make sure we have everything that we need.   I went over the list multiple times and pretty sure I have a complete gear.   They will give us helmet, harness and avalanche receiver but other than that, I own pretty much all the gear.    For a complete list of the equipment, visit RMI check list here.


After the gear check, we are going to hang out by the fire pit and chat with Lou Whittaker.   This is when you get to hear the story from the legend and he will ease up your worry, calm you down and let you know what to expect.   If my memory serves me right, the climb lead guide would be there as well to answer all the questions.

This is it.  My 15 weeks of training lead up to this moment.  I’m so excited, yet very nervous.   I have a lot of people that is rooting for me and will follow my progress live.   I can’t let them down.   I’m going to do this.

I’m going to summit Mt. Rainier.


Week 15: Climb for Clean Air – Reflections

Wow.  Is it been 15 weeks?  Where did the time go?  It seems just yesterday that I was huffing and puffing when I carry a small backpack, with a couple bottle of water in it and try to hike to Rattlesnake Ledge.   Or when I almost faint after an hour work out.   Or when I wasn’t able to even run a mile.

This journey have been so rewarding, and awesome.   I pushed myself more than I thought I could.   I overcome a lot of challenges (mentally AND physically).   I learned about myself a lot, about my limitation.   The best part of all, I get to do this with my best friend, my partner, my mentor, my trainer and my love of my life.    To my husband John (blog | twitter), thank you for going through this journey with me.    Thank you for putting up with me on those 5am mornings when I really, really want to just stay in bed and do nothing.  Countless hours of hiking and hundred of miles of driving to the mountain.   You let me sleep in the car while you drive two hours home, after 10 hours of hiking.

The other person that help me tremendously during is my trainer, Weston Williams.   Oh, I have love-hate relationship with him.   I don’t even remember how many times I said ‘remind me again why I am paying you to torture me‘ during a hard workout session that made me almost puke and pass out.   He didn’t just train me, he educated me.   He made me believe I can do a lot of things.   He pushed me, and pushed me, and pushed me more.   He helped me understand how the muscular system work and made sense of a lot of workout routine.   In a nutshell, he’s awesome.   Weston, thank YOU.   Very much.

Also, I want to thank my mother and step-father.   For the countless of weekend of watching my daughters so I can be out in the mountain.   They allowed me to have the time so I can continue to train.  They entertained my girls so i can focus on my training.  Thank you both very much.

Being a working mama, weekend is the only time I have to spend with my girls.   In my case, that’s every other weekend since my girls go to their dad every other weekend.   A couple hours a day after I get back from work never seems to be enough and I had to trade the weekend with them with a day in the mountain.   I miss them.  Tremendously.  I know they miss me.   This is the hardest part of the training for me.   I know they won’t understand it now but hopefully someday, when they are old enough, they can read this post and be proud of me.   I hope I can show them what a commitment is all about and how they can accomplish anything if they put their heart to it.  In that note – to my baby girls, I love you both very, very much.   So much that it hurt me whenever I have to drop you at Grandma so I can go to the mountain.   I will make you both proud.

Lastly, to all of you that believe in me and my cause.   My friends, my co-worker, even someone that I don’t even know and take the time and money to donate to my climb for the cause that I believe in.   Your support has been overwhelming.   Your encouraging words helped me to go through a lot of challenges in the last 15 weeks.   I won’t let you down.

I am ready.

How this week went down:

Monday – Friday:

Light work out.  I did a couple short run and walk.  I felt under the weather, so want to make sure I rested enough


Me trying to sustain the wind at 9,000ft

Last training hike to Muir.   We found out in the morning that Climb 1 team were turning around at 12,000ft due to bad weather and low visibility.   It was a bummer, but everybody came back safely which is what’s the most important thing.   I was proud of them!!   We decided to head out anyway and the weather WAS yucky.   It was raining, super windy and visibility was very, very limited.   We started to walk at 9:30am and I walked on steady pace.   About 45 minutes – we were approaching the avalanche chute and found out the park ranger had closed the chute (winter route) and open the summer route (not a direct ascent but through switchback).   Personally, I like the chute better.  As brutal as it was, since it literally about 60 degrees angle, I was so used to it and walking on the snow was soooo much easier than a rock.   In anycase, we took our first break under the first switchback (6500ft).   We ran into RMI team who also took their rest break at the same place.   After 15 minutes break, we continued to walk.   The wind was getting stronger and it started to rain hard.   We kept going until above Pebble Creek (7,500ft) and took our second break.   I was feeling great, but sitting down for 15 minutes during the break, made me feel really, really cold.   My finger were numb!   I was starting to feel miserable, not because of my lungs or sore muscles but because of the strong wind.    We continued to walk and I had my head down the entire time to avoid the wind in my face.   We took our third break at 9,000ft.   I barely can eat my lunch there since the wind was so strong and felt miserable.    The sun was in and out, break the cloud and give us a slightly better visibility but the wind was getting stronger.   I had it.  I told John that I want to come back down.

Me at 7,000ft

For the first time, I actually felt good about it.  I guess because I know that I can walk another 1,000ft just fine and be at Muir about an hour from where we sat.   I just didn’t think it worth our effort since the weather was so bad.   As we walked down, about a couple hours later the wind started to subsided and the sun was out.   By the time we get to Paradise, the weather completely turned around.   It was nice and sunny!    There’s another proof that the mountain make their own weather.   Always be prepared and never underestimate how quick the weather can change.


Keep on coming people!  There are still time.  The fundraising deadline is actually August 9, 2011 so there’s plenty of time!


New Goal. New Focus

This is the paragraph from a book called ‘The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer

Why Marathon?

At some point, everyone who has ever trained for an run a marathon has asked him or herself that very question.  The answers are as individual as the person asking the question.   Each of us has a complete unique set of life experiences, yet as humans we share the desire to test our personal limited in search of how far we can go.   The avenue of testing is limited only by one’s imagination, fear, threshold, and financial resources.  Some people dive out of airplanes, others climb mountains, still others explore the depths of the sea.   But for most of us, the arenas of challenge are less grandiose and a lot closer to home:  how long can I work in the yard before having to go in and rest, or how far can I walk before turning for home, or how much longer can I tolerate this job before it drives me crazy?

Along with the need to grow by testing and expanding our personal limits, we humans desire and value what psychologists call ‘peak experiences‘.   Peak experiences are positive happenings that have a profound and lasting impact.  They are life-changing and in retrospect are often considered the finest moments of our lives.  They are experiences we value and memories we cherish

Why did I quote the paragraph from that book above?   Well, you probably guessed by now that I have a new goal and new focus after my climb next week.

I’m going to run a half-marathon.

Stay tuned for detail and training plan.


Week 14: Climb for Clean Air – Blessing

Plan for this week:

Monday:  Rest

Tuesday:  Strength Training with Weston

Wednesday:  Long Cardio

Thursday:  Strength Training with Weston

Friday:  Long Cardio

Saturday:  Muir Hike

Sunday:  Rest

I had a pretty good week.   I’m still recovering physically from last week pneumonia while I pushed myself really hard to keep with the training and the hike.   I know I’m getting stronger and I am able to do certain things I can’t do 14 weeks ago.   I’m able to run 5 miles straight, I’m able to do 4 (yes, FOUR) set of 3 different lunges, squat and step up with 20lbs weight on me.   I’m able to carry 45lbs pack and hike for 10 hours round trip, with 4500ft elevation gain.   I lost over 20lbs, drop 2 pants size, and feeling pretty awesome about myself.     In a nutshell –  I am awesome.   Yes, for the first time I actually able to say that out loud and pat myself in the back.  I think I earn that.   My good friend, Tim Ford (blog | twitter), wrote a post last week just dedicated to me.   How awesome is that?  On top of that, I am surrounding of a lot of awesome people who believe in me and my cause.

My awesome husband and me

Oh, did I mention my awesome husband, John (blog | twitter), who is going to climb with me in less than two weeks?   The one that train alongside with me and went to every training hike with me?   I’ve been so focus with my training that sometimes, I have my blinder on and didn’t really see awesome things around me.   I did know it, but didn’t really see it.  This week, things are very clear to me.   I am very blessed.   Very, very blessed.     To be where I am today consider not even a year ago I wasn’t sure how to go on with my day or know what tomorrow looks like with my challenging health, it’s a miracle.   I am grateful everyday for it.   Health, family and friends are the three things that people take it for granted.   I know I was guilty of that before, but not anymore.     My message to you – take the time to appreciate your health.   It’s precious.  Oh, and take a moment to hug your loved one.   Tell them how you appreciate them.   Send emails to your friends and tell them how awesome they are.   Thank them for being your friend.  I know it sounds corny, but trust me on this.

How it actually went down:


Rest.  It’s 4th of July and I just came back from Muir the day before.


Strength training with Weston and he meant business!  I did four set of step-up and balance with 18lbs of bar, squat with 15lbs of plate against the wall with ball on my back, lunges with one foot on the half-dome and 18lbs bar, follow by old-fashion lunges (still with the same bar) across the room.   Then I did one-legged bridge, push-up, lat pull down, assisted pull-up and bench dip.    It was a really, really good work out.


I was sore from the work out and decided to do light cardio by walking 4.5miles on my hilly neighborhood.   Surprisingly, my calves became really tight afterwards.  I guess long walk on a hard pavement totally different than hiking on a trail/snow.


Another strength training with Weston.   He focused on cores and upper body.   We did about five different cores routine follow by another five upper body routines.   Total 4 set on each of the routine.   Later on that night, my stomach muscles were so sore when I laughed!


Decided to rest.  We were heading to Paradise to spend the night there so we can be in the trail head early in the morning for our Muir Hike


Sunrise at Mount Rainier

I was up and ready to go by 6am.    The sky was clear and there were no single cloud in the sky.   The mountain look so majestic and mysterious.   It was very cold morning, even though sun was out.   I decided to only wear my base layer and vest since I knew the day would be pretty hot.    I felt good, since we spent the night there and my body acclimated with the altitude.    We started to walk at 6:30am.   The trail was on solid ice.   My hiking poles can’t even break the ices and I had a hard time to walk steady.   In hindsight, that would be a perfect time to put my crampon!    There something different about today’s hike.   I noticed my leg muscles cramp up from the get go.   I couldn’t understand it and kept going.   In result, my body had to work twice as hard and made my lung work extra hard as well.     We reached our first stop on the bottom of avalanche chute, a few hundred yards from where we stop the week before.   After 15 minutes break – we started to climb the chute.   My left hamstring started to cramp up more every time I took a step, but I pushed through.   We made it our second stop above Pebble Creek at 7,300ft about an hour later.    The trail still feel like a solid ice and it’s hard to walk on.   The sun was out but not enough to make this solid ice trail easy.


Me at 9,000ft

As we approached our third stop at 8,300ft, I felt a sharp pain on my left chest.   I knew exactly what it was.  It was my unhappy lung told me to slow down.   So I did.   At this time, my hamstring, quad and calves muscle felt cramp and I was exhausted.   It was the first time I ever felt cramp on every weeks of hike!   I couldn’t understand why and became very frustrated, top that with a little wheezing that I started to have, my good mood turn a complete 180.    We reached 9,000ft and I was about to cry.   I knew how far we were from Muir.   I knew how long it would take me to get there from where I was and with my pace today, we would have to turn around a few hundred feet before anyway since we had to be back at Paradise no later than 5pm.    So I made the grown up decision and told John that we need to turn around.   I was not happy but I knew that was the right thing to do.    As we walked down, I felt weaker and felt very, very thirsty.    I drank all of my water by the time we got back to Paradise (I carry three 32oz bottle).   Later on that night, John told me that must be why I felt the cramp.   I didn’t hydrate properly.   Usually, I drank 32oz of water the night before and since we had two hours drive from home to Paradise and I guzzled another 32oz water on the way to Ashford.   Then another 16oz from Ashford to Paradise.   Today, I had 8oz water prior the hike.  That’s all.    I was dehydrated!   Lesson learned!

Pictures from my hike can be viewed here




I have a new personal goal.  I want to hit $10k.   Do you think I can do that?   If so, please help me out by spreading the word (or donate to my climb, if you haven’t done so).   Any amount is greatly appreciated!!