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Bone Games Revisited

Staff Reports

Editor’s note: Harald Fricker is a former endurance runner and mountain athlete who is working toward making a comeback and getting back into competition. His column will appear bi-weekly, where he will follow health, athletics and lifestyle trends for the Vail Trail.In the summer of 1964 Rob Schultheis nearly fell to his death after summitting 12,814 foot Mt. Neva, just outside of Nederland, Colorado. For a few hours right after his fall, though bloodied and broken, the young University of Colorado student transcended into a state of euphoria so unique and uplifting that he would spend the rest of his life trying to duplicate it. In his recently reprinted 1984 classic “Bone Games” Schultheis shares his personal journey through harrowing accounts of unbelievable triumphs and near-misses.Schultheis subjects himself to a wide spectrum of athletic endeavors, hoping to explain man’s lure to nature’s most extreme challenges. His writing may stray a bit from time to time but his anecdotal and personal style is engaging with a good dose of Eastern philosophies.Many Vail Valley athletes will be able to relate to much of the book. For runners, his references to particular events such as the Pikes Peak Marathon and the Imogene Pass Run will really hit home. His exploits in the Himalayas should evoke memories for a lot of those in our climbing community who have spent time in that part of the world themselves.Like many others I’ve personally felt the incredible endorphin rush of a runner’s high and I definitely feel like I own the world when I run at 4 a.m. every day but I’m pretty certain that what Schultheis experienced was several notches above that and something many of us will never come to know. Since reading the book for the first time 15 years ago I have also been on a scaled down version of the mission Schultheis has been on to unlock the secret of that temporarily sustained but ever-so-elusive state of ultimate nirvana.Schultheis has spent the better part of the past 15 years in Afghanistan as a journalist dodging bullets and writing articles and books about the people of that war torn region. Though not a sport I would definitely consider bullet-dodging a Bone Game and one that I’ll try my best to skip on my journey.All in all, Bone Games is a worthwhile read, especially for those who may also be in search of the same natural high that Schultheis felt on that Colorado mountain 40 years ago. VTBone Games is available at amazon.com By Harald Fricker


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