Imagine being dressed in a down parka, ski goggles, thick gloves, plastic boots, crampons and barely being able to stand on your own two feet because 90 kph winds are attempting to blow you off the side of a 17, 000-foot ridge. In that moment, you feel as though life is unfolding at 120 frames per second.
Having backpacked extensively, I assumed climbing the 14,162 foot Mt. Shasta -- about a 4.5 hour drive from San Francisco -- would not be that hard. Yet while I grasped a rickety boulder around 12,000 feet, pummeled in the face by fierce snow-laced winds of 40 mph and shouting obscenities, I reconsidered that.