Yak. “Oh SweetJesusofMaryandAllah, I wish they had someone like, something like – yak! – the Alpine Training Center down in Khande,” I gasped between brain addled heaves. Josh shot me a puzzled look. We were one-third up Shingu Charpa’s stunning, unclimbed, 5,000-foot north ridge and my already pea-sized brain shriveled with hypoxic prophecies. But sure enough, the ATC opened last year in Boulder (though I remain unaware of Connie’s plans on opening an affiliate in the village of Khande) – and they do kick-ass, sport-specific, work-hardening, high-intensity training for climbers, skiers, and outdoor athletes.
A few days into mine and Josh Wharton’s trip to Pakistan’s Nangma Valley in 2006, I gasped for air and spit blood, wishing for one of those huge bungee-cord things to clip to the back of Josh’s harness. Phenoms like him, it seems, don’t need to acclimatize. But I suck. Not that the ATC would help with acclimatization, but I’m on a roll here and altitude is not one of my gifts. Margarita making (and drinking), however, is. So Josh and I – emphasis on the I – slowed to a crawl at only 15,000′ and passed a long and miserable night on a 30-degree sloping ledge. Down at first light. I felt Josh’s disappointment, but, being the optimist that he is, he said to me, right there on that ledge: “Well, at least you make good margaritas.”
Just last night I sat here feeling sorry for myself, when suddenly my good friend Mark Kelly came by and started kicking my crutches. “Get yer sorry gimp-ass up, ShackBoy.”
“NO, I’m just here with my marg, that’s all I need, me and my marg. And – and these painkillers. That’s all I need.”
Mark looked into my empty glass and reminded me: “You know they’re passing the hat for you to buy tequila to help your recovery.”
I did a double back flip on my crutches and we were out the door.
Last night at the ATC in Boulder, they had this cool Community Night, with my friend Graham from Cilo Gear, who makes awesome, no-frills-no-bullshit packs; hardman Jesse Huey giving a cool show despite Windows constantly re-arranging his images (bravo for the improv, Jesse! Next time we’ll pass the hat to buy you a Mac); and emceed by the mighty masterful Dougie Fresh Shepherd. Thanks so much, everyone who came, for all the well wishes and for the margarita fund. Totally unnecessary (though it does help), but immensely appreciated. Thank you.
What’s any of this have to do with my Shingu Charpa opener? Nothing, as with most of my unconnected rambles. But I’m not only getting old, but now I’m gimped up – the absolute worst kind of alpine climber – DearGodNo!, as if he doesn’t spray enough already, now he’s going to start babbling “Ever tell you about the time I climbed the Enormodome?” Yup, it’s coming.
Which reminds me…so this guy walks in to a confessional booth and asks for forgiveness. “What did you do, my son?”
“Well, father, see, there were these two beautiful blonde sisters. And I slept with them both – at the same time.”
“Oh dear,” the priest says, “Say 50 Hail Marys.”
“No way – I’m Jewish,” the man replies.
“But, wait…so why are you telling me??”
“Oh, I’m telling everybody!”
So here’s this week’s marg recipe, the Thuty-Thuty (30-30), with big thanks to all who came out last night:
An exceptional value – and not like, “Oh, you mean it sucks but it’s cheap.” This stuff’s pretty good. But not too good – this blog hasn’t hit the big-time yet (still waiting on Hollywood), so we’re talking climbers here. 30-30 runs about $20 for a 750mL bottle, not too bad. These smaller brands can sometimes be real gems, as they don’t spend all their money on marketing to frat boys and hipsters, but just focus on the tequila. Something to consider when checking out the local liquor store’s selection, especially the sales (as you should), but remember to always get 100% agave tequila NO MATTER WHAT – that other crap, like Cuervo Gold, is freakin’ mixed with paint thinner or something, and – OK, I’ll go off on that sub-swill another time… By the way, in these mid-to-lower end tequilas, I usually go with their Reposados or Anejos. Though I love a good Blanco, in the cheaper stuff Blancos can be a little harsh.
Do two parts tequila, one part triple sec. That’s half your marg.
Triple Sec: cheap stuff
I go cheap on the Triple Sec. DeKuyper, Hiram Walker, whatever. On special occasions – say, double episode of Cops on TV – I go big and use Cointreau, but it’s way pricey. When using really good tequila, skip the Triple Sec all together. With the 30-30, I usually keep it in.
Again, two parts tequila, one part triple sec. That’s half your marg. The other half:
Mix: Minute Maid Limeade mix and Water
Remember, NEVER use sours mix. My god, that stuff blows. The best quick mix is 1 part Minute Maid Limeade, 2 parts water. This is 50% of your marg. Using real limes, freshly squeezed, with simple syrup, makes a splendid mix, but that requires work. And after one of Connie’s ATC training sessions, you’re already worked. We’re climbers, after all, and so sometimes ya just gotta get ‘er done. For those wanting to up the quality, use the fresh limes mix from this post.
Key tip: Add a splash of OJ.
A couple of things to remember, because it can’t be stated enough:
-Real men don’t drink blended margs. On the rocks, with salt.
-Shaken, not stirred.
– I really shouldn’t have to state this, but – no umbrella.
Enjoy, and have a great weekend!