RICHMOND, Va. –To reach the pinnacle of his extreme hobby, Richmonder Jeff Reynolds is headed to the bottom of the world.
The 50-year old, who spends his day job as head of enforcement for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, has one peak left to climb before he can check off the highest summits in each of the seven continents.
And number seven is going to be chilly.
Reynolds and two climbing partners are heading down to Antarctica in November to attempt the 16,050-foot summit at Mount Vinson and to explore other peaks Reynolds says have never seen a boot print.
To prepare, Reynolds’ regimen is a combination of strength and cardio exercises at the downtown YMCA to keep up his baseline fitness; a favorite exercise is using dumbbell weights while balancing on a ball. When he’s got a strenuous trip planned, he ramps up the workout.
And he spends as much time outdoors as possible, climbing various mountains in Virginia.
“I like really long, paced treks in the Blue Ridge, overnight in the winter months when the temps are really low,” he said. “I also try to time it when storms are coming in.”
Then he kicks things up a notch: “Sometimes I’ll force malnourishment and dehydrate to add physical and mental stress,” he said. “It’s powerful on physical, mental and emotional levels.”
Antarctica’s temperatures are brutal; its “summer” averages around 20 below, with gusty wind thrown in for good measure. Not only is this month-long expedition the most remote of Reynolds’ trips, it also presents logistical challenges of having to haul supplies by sled (rather than with help from Sherpas or porters).
Growing up in the flatlands of northwest Illinois, Reynolds says he was hooked on outdoor adventure at the age of 12, when he first saw mountains on a family trip in Colorado.
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