Category Archives: Bolivia

A New Challenge–A Competition For My Friends!

Last night, I officially closed in on my next challenge…a new chapter for me. Next year, I’m going to take on a challenge, previously only a dream. I’m really excited about it and I want to share the adventure with each of you.

I’m taking a BIG trip after I complete my pipeline installation next July. Departing in August, I am going to withstand extreme conditions, resurrect my training from college (“no stress or strain can erase it”), and apply all of which I will learn over the next 9 months in the journey to prepare.

It’s going to be a life altering experience and I’m looking forward to proving myself not only on the trip, but on the journey. Most of my journey will be over the next 9 months preparing. I’ll be doing some RECONDO and cutting approximately 60-75 lbs, training like many of my Crossfit friends (Brendan Mahoney, Kevin Goff, Brad Faucett and Marianne Lawson, etc–there are alot of you), learning to run like Don Fagan, Samantha McClellan, and Jeffrey McClellan, absorbing altitude and cold weather techniques from my friends TA Loeffler and Alan Arnette, and generally getting my swagger back–think July 2004.

It’s time to summon the inner beast (LC Fit, Dexter, Alec, and Candace-style). It’s been a while, but the best I felt in a long time was after an endurance challenge to Mera Peak in 2013. Last year, my follow-on trip to Bolivia was cancelled due to my eye problems and I used it to excuse getting ready for another trip.

This year, I’ll have no excuses. No medical excuses to be lazy. No more, “I’m too tired.” No more unhealthy eating habits. Time to change–a forever change, not a 1 year adjustment. I will need each of you to help me along the way. I will try to revert to my old ways and I need to be slapped in the face when that happens (yes figuratively and literally).

I will be raising money for charity and donating 100% of what is raised to helping our returning war veterans get whatever support they need. I will announce the charities after I fully review their administrative cuts as I want as much of the proceeds go to helping the cause as possible.

So now is the fun part for you. Guess what the trip is. Your clue for today is below.

Tyler Russell 2013.
Tyler Russell 2013.

People exempt from this challenge are John Howlett, my mother, my wife (I gotta get you to come with me), and potentially Betty Whalen (you might remember since I was brainstorming it before).

Two guesses per day
Every day I’ll post a photo clue

Glory in winning

Eye Surgery–Changing Plans Instead of Giving Up!

Well, a fun turn of events has caused me to cancel my Bolivia expedition with International Mountain Guides next month. The eye drops I was taking to prevent my cornea from rejecting, caused my left eye to get a PSC Cataract. Since my condition is far from normal, I will be back in Atlanta for surgery all of July.

Since my vacation for the year was focused on this trip, I am working with IMG to find some other climbs later that will help me meet the same goals. I will be looking for some rope skills training and high altitude exposure like I had in Nepal last year. I will be carrying some vacation over to next year, so the plan is to do a few trips here and there and then maybe do an expedition next year when I will be in between jobs.

I can’t release any info yet, but I’m thinking of my first 8000m peak next summer/fall or if delayed a different 7000m peak in Spring 2016.

Details will follow, but wanted to update you on the happenings.

Cold is not a reason to take a day off…keep training!

Trained today in some of the coldest weather recently.  You can see we got a nice 606 calorie burn, despite the (-12ºC, or 12.2ºF for those of you in the US) pulling tires tonight up Signal Hill.  We only had time for one lap, but it felt good.  Piled on the warm clothes, left the office, and made it happen.  It was kind of fun climbing the hill in the dark, which I hadn’t done before.  Thinking of giving it a go again tomorrow AM, so I don’t have to go after work.  I want to get 5 good training days in a week, a day of yoga, and a stretching day.


Ice on a house near Signal Hill. Tyler Russell 2014.
Ice on a house near Signal Hill. Tyler Russell 2014.
Signal Hill at Night. Tyler Russell 2014.
Signal Hill at Night. Tyler Russell 2014.
Christine Dragging a Tire at Night. Tyler Russell 2014.
Christine Dragging a Tire at Night. Tyler Russell 2014.
Too Cold to Open Our Eyes! Tyler Russell 2014.
Too Cold to Open Our Eyes! Tyler Russell 2014.

While the conditions were cold and windy (I’m calculating the wind chill to be -7ºF), it made me think about Alan Arnette’s recent post about mental vs. physical toughness, when attempting Everest.  After the Air Force Academy, I always found that mind beats body almost every time.  High altitude, cold, fatigue, etc. will wear you out physically, but as long as your brain can keep you motivated and making good decisions, you can probably still top out (though this is not true of high altitude sickness–that requires you to descend if meds don’t help).  I didn’t summit Mera because I wasn’t prepared for the conditions at the top.  My pack felt heavy, my legs were exhausted, there was barely any air to breathe, my wife was sick at the bottom, the rest of the group had turned around, etc.  These things make you second guess why you’re standing on top of the mountain.  I’ll need to train this out of me for Bolivia this year.

Glad I have one trip under my belt, so I can be ready for the next.  Everest is shaping up to be a 2017 trip, due to work restraints, but we’ll see if we can squeeze it in for 2016 still.

Tire Draggin’ and Heavy Feet

Training for Illimani again today.  Weather was a bit brutal.  Cold and windy on top of Signal Hill, but we made some big improvements from last time.  We hauled up tires, backpacks, and wore ankle weights to help simulate the weight of our legs with climbing gear on and the slowness of climbing at altitude.  You can see from the Garmin page that we did about 4 miles.  It was a great day to train and glad we got up and made it happen.

Video from Climb.  Pretty out of breath!

Weights and tire for training.  Tyler Russell 2014.
Weights and tire for training. Tyler Russell 2014.
View from Signal Hill with Clouds.   Tyler Russell 2014.
View from Signal Hill with Clouds. Tyler Russell 2014.
Standing on a summit!  Tyler Russell 2014.
Standing on a summit! Tyler Russell 2014.

Looking to  keep dropping weight and be ready for this climb in July.  Time is running out!  Time to get of the computer and find some healthy food for dinner.


Training for Bolivia!

Bolivia training is off and going!  Christine and I have been in the gym and hauling tires up Signal Hill here in St. John’s.  

I’m really excited about this trip and am happy with all the gear we bought last year.  On Black Friday, I ordered all my own climbing gear to go along on the trek.  Airfare is bought and TravelEx insurance will be updated tomorrow.  I’m really lucky to have a chance to do this climb with IMG.  Very much looking forward to the thin air and the tough climbs!


IMG’s webpage has a great description, “For our July and August expeditions we start with a couple nice training climbs in the Condoriri area of the Cordillera Real like Pequeño Alpamayo (17,482′). Then, we head over to Huayna Potosi (19,974′). These are excellent climbs, requiring a variety of snow and ice climbing skills. If you have the time, take advantage of your acclimatization by adding the higher and steeper Illimani (21,200′).”  Since Christine and I signed up for all 3 climbs, we have a lot to prepare for.  We need to prep TA and Alan style!

Sunset on Signal Hill.  Tyler Russell 2014.
Sunset on Signal Hill. Tyler Russell 2014.


Christine on Signal Hill dragging tires. Tyler Russell 2014.

We are both eating healthy and working out.  Hoping to slim down a bit more this month so I can squeeze into the next size down where most of my winter gear works much better!  The more cardio, the better right now.  It’s important that I don’t cut much muscle as I lose, so I do need to  keep lifting to maintain my strength.

It’s time to kick some ass and take names!  Wish us luck.  Tomorrow is a climbing day again…