Little-known mountaineering fact: Drinking makes you a better climber.
What?! How’s that possible, you ask? Well, you’ve come to the right place to find out. Here at Bight, we’ve spent many hours in serious pursuit of both activities, so we can speak from ample (and occasionally painful) experience. And this blog is where we’ll share that hard-won beta. Bight’s philosophy is to make the mountains more accessible, so our stories will spill all sorts of insider tidbits – the kind you’d never see in a glossy guidebook.
I’ll start with one that’s near and dear to my heart: beer, wine, and liquor. (Wait, that’s three. But who’s counting?) Now, I’m not promoting excessive drinking – and definitely not encouraging anyone to imbibe while climbing. Far from it: CWI* is a dumb-ass move that endangers you, your partners, and your potential rescuers.
Instead, I want to talk about the value of hangovers. Yes, hangovers. They are the perfect training tool for going to altitude. Above treeline, where there is just enough atmosphere and oxygen to support life, normal humans feel like crap. And when you ascend to a new elevation, it always sucks. You feel nauseous, lightheaded, headachy, lethargic, and dehydrated…hmmm. Sounds just like a hangover, right?
It is, and that’s why downing a few too many makes sense. When you wake up the next morning with a funky tummy and pounding headache, you’ll be blessed with the opportunity to develop more mental stamina – exactly what’s required to fight through altitude acclimatization. I’ve suffered through two or three memorable hangovers** myself, and I can tell you: It feels exactly like your first push to 24,000’ on Everest, or 17,000’ on Denali, or day one on Rainier.
Guide tip? Embrace the hangover. That shitty feeling you experience in your living room, indoors, on your couch, is more valuable than 100 pull-ups. Get comfortable with it. Small tasks become chores and effort is required to function at even acceptable levels. Cherish these first few hours of the hangover because the initial suffering feels like being at the highest and most extreme elevations. As the hangover lessens so does the correlation to altitude. Less hangover = lower elevation.
Which brings me to this blog. “Two Beers In” is the place to hang out and find out what’s new in the Bight Gear world and a place to pick up tips and hear the quirky stuff that’s on our minds. I chose “Two Beers In” because, in my experience, almost everyone has a better time after a beverage or two. Guards come down, egos shrink, confidence increases, and overall everyone has a pretty good time. That’s the goal with our blog. We often take ourselves pretty seriously, too seriously really. A beer or two should take care of that.
Next time you’re at Mt. Rainier, come find me and we’ll sip one together.
*Climbing When Impaired
**More proof Peter can’t count.