Saturday, July 08, 2006

Rain, rain, go the hell away

Variance, as any poker player will tell you (including this one), is a bitch.
What I'm finding out is variance doesn't just apply to poker. It applies to mountaineering as well.
Mountaineering, like poker, takes luck. The average person doesn't realize how much skill poker takes to win. But people don't also realize that how luck mountaineering takes to "win" as well.
You could debate this point, and many of my fellow mountaineers would, but I consider a summit a "win." Many are content to have a day out in the woods, and I do get some enjoyment out of that, but mostly I'm bummed if I don't get another check off my list.
And to get that checkmark, things have to go right.
You have to feel good, both the night before and during the climb, not always a given with the difficulty of mountaineering and the altitude, which is always there to put a bad beat on you if something doesn't agree with you from the night before. You have to have the right conditions, i.e. reasonably dry rock or good snow or And most importantly, the weather has to be good.
There's nothing you can do about the last one. All the dances, prayers and obessions over checking the weather page 20 times a day won't help. You just have to be lucky.
This year, I have not been lucky.
At all.
In fact, I'm in the weather equivalent of a losing streak.
I returned a few hours ago from a climb up Mount Audubon, a 13er in the Indian Peak range. I took a group from a Fort Collins fitness club, Miramont, as a part of my new part-time job this summer. I will lead them on three hikes, including Saturday's, and including two 14ers, Quandary and Elbert.
I was soaked.
I was soggier than a kid's sugar cereal during Saturday morning cartoons.
Oh, boy, did that shower feel good. Funny how getting wet again is the best cure for getting soaked all day.
We did make the peak. Unbelieveably, we made the peak, despite the heavy sleet and scraping winds near the top. We walked through a fog so thick someone disappeared if they walked just a few feet away.
Last Saturday, as I already wrote, my attempt up Ice Mountain wasn't much better, despite being in position to make the summit by noon.
I'm doing everything I should. I'm getting up way too early to summit the peak early in the morning, before the afternoon thunderstorms hit.
But, as in poker, sometimes you can do everything right and still lose to variance.
Variance, after all, is a bitch.
The best thing to do, of course, is to push through it and hope that my luck continues.
Or just hope, a little bit, anyway, that variance decided to take on something else besides my mountaineering.
Hey, variance, my bankroll is pretty fat right now.
Let's work out a chop.

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