Baldy climb remembered
By HANS IBOLD
Express Staff Writer
Casey AKA Fred Mebley III finished 4th overall in 39:01 for the highest placing by a local
in Saturdays's Baldy Hill Climb.
No animal except man inflicts ritual suffering on itself.
Consider Saturday mornings popular torture ritual here in
Ketchum: the 3,140-foot ascent of Bald Mountain raced by over 200 hikers and runners.
I seek out events like this because of my German guilt. For me, painful
physical workouts can be penance for any number of things, usually for eating too much
sausage or not calling my mother often enough.
When I arrived at the base of Warm Springs for the hill climb, my
first, I was surprised to see more than a hundred people shivering in wait on the bridge.
The old and young faces seemed to be eager, mixing fits of laughter with hungry glances at
I am athletic, with one big, ego-boosting race on my running resume. I
ran the New York City marathon three years ago, when I was 26, and finished with an
acceptable time of about 3½ hours.
With that credential and with a summer full of cycling and
trail-running, I thought the 1.78-mile climb would be easy. I looked around at my cackling
competitors and thought "See you at the top, suckers."
At the start, I broke into a run and elbowed my way to the front. That
run and my lead lasted 20 seconds. Then I became a gasping, sputtering, slow-moving
obstacle to faster climbers.
"Fun, eh?" said a friend, Whit Albright, in passing, in one
of his least witty moments.
I forced a nod and downshifted to a slow, walking pace that would allow
Once I eased into that crawl, I tried various coping strategies. I
tried to let a pop song distract me from the pain, but it quickly faded under the rhythmic
tapping of the ski poles the hiker ahead of me was using. I tried thinking about my
girlfriend, but she faded too. I tried chasing Adrienne Leugers, who came screaming past
me, hardly breathing. The chase lasted for another 20 seconds, when I had to stop for
I dont remember much after that. I do remember that by the time I
made it to the top and to the boisterous finish line crowd gathered there, I was shuffling
in a simian hunch, with ribbons of dried spittle wrapped around my face.
Thats when my arms went up involuntarily and when the euphoria of
the crowd ran thick in Baldys alpine air.