Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Annals of Obsession

Dave Goldstein had a mission in 2006: He wanted to break his old record for climbing Mt. Sanitas, the Boulder, Colorado, foothill named for a tuberculosis hospital. I don't remember what his goal was, but he ended the year with 269 ascents. Now, Sanitas is just a bump on the way to the Rockies; it rises about 1,400 feet in a mile and a half or so above Dave's home. But think about it: 269 ascents means climbing the peak more than five days a week, year-round. Dave actually averaged more like six or seven days a week when he was at home, because he travels a lot to climb, reducing the number of potential Sanitas days. "I could have done even more ascents if I had a job," he said. There were snow days, too, though in Boulder the weather is rarely an obstacle. Still, he sometimes doubled up to keep the count progressing satisfactorily, climbing up the mighty East Face (facing the camera in this Google Earth image from above Dave's neighborhood), then hiking down the South Ridge, and then back up over the top for a twofer. Injuries also could have been a factor, but on January 2 Dave actually was lamenting the health effects of the end of his streak. "I think my body got addicted to climbing it," he said. "My back has been acting weird, and climbing Sanitas seemed to help."

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