Climbing The Mountain

It was November 2011 and as always I was chomping at the bit to do something adventurous. My girlfriend wouldn’t be able to join me, but she knew I had a highly experienced guide (who was also an old friend) that could shepherd me safely to the peak, she gave me the green light to climb Grand Teton.

I would go for four days, with two of those being training days. I started training right away. Lots of pull-ups and cardio exercises were my main focus. My girlfriend was of great help, encouraging me every step of the way while my exercise instructor helped me find the best exercises to prepare for the climb.

As the date came closer I watched all the Hollywood climbing movies I could. This was eye-opening, as it tended not to turn out well for the climbers in the movies (hmmm). However, the Banff Film Festival documentaries on climbing showed more realistic and often better outcomes (cool!).

I headed west on July 30 and arrived at the Climbers Ranch on August 1. The next two days were a lot of fun while I trained to climb and repel. After assessing my progress, my guide Mattie gave me the thumbs up to go up the Exum Ridge path. This was the more challenging route and one she thought I would enjoy.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to find out what mountaineering is.


We started at 10 a.m. on August 4 to get to the Exum Hut. We had a seven-mile hike with a 5,000-ft. increase in altitude to reach the hut. It was a gorgeous hike and an interesting place to sleep.

About 20 of us piled into a small building with no space in between our sleeping bags and slept for the night. We were packed in like sardines, which made for a somewhat restless night. But we were all so excited for the climb we didn’t mind.

An interesting aspect of summiting Grand Teton is that on most days, the chance of lightening strikes at the peak increases as the day wears on, making it advisable to summit before noon. So at 3 a.m., I ate a Clif Bar for breakfast, got my climbing gear together and we started our ascent.

2,000 vertical feet stood before us. We reached the peak via Wall Street, an exciting exposed ramp. Mattie free climbed up the first section in the dark and then dropped the rope for me to tie in.

When I got to the top, she encouraged me to go a little quicker and to trust that she had me. As I finished each section of the route, I felt better and better, but wow was it scary.


What an experience to be at the top of a 13,770 ft. mountain! We summited at 8 a.m..  We took in the breathtaking view, grabbed a quick snack, and snapped a souvenir photo.

Now we had to go down. We had 7,000 feet and eight miles to go to reach our cars. We climbed down most of the way, doing only a couple of repels. The high-exertion descent kept the adrenaline rush going until we got back to the hut.

There we had a snack and backpacked the rest of the way down, past spectacular waterfalls and wild flowers. It was the experience of a lifetime and I will never forget it. 


I have always loved the mountains and the outdoors, especially the exciting challenges they can bring. My love of challenge carries into my work life as well. I have been studying colon cancer for 19 years, enjoying the peaks and learning from the valleys.

After losing my grandfather to colon cancer, it was my goal that no other person would suffer from this horrible disease. In my twentieth year of being a part of colon cancer diagnosis, I hope to see my dream come true. I pray Cologuard will be a key step in achieving that dream. 

Next adventure: backpacking Glacier National Park with my now wife. Enjoy my energy bar recipe and power through your next task.


1 cup of honey

1 cup of sugar

¾ cup of peanut butter

1 cups of grapenuts

1 cup of cheerios

½ cup of raisins or craisins

½ cup of dried fruit chopped (dates, prunes, pears, mango, coconut, apple or pineapple)

½ cup of chopped almonds

½ cup of sunflower seeds

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Topics: Healthy Living

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