Mount Charleston is My Bitch: Summiting the Peak

Chas Trail Reports, Training Leave a Comment

Those of you who have the pleasure of working with Alison Corcoran at Goldilocks Training  know just how passionate she is about what she does. In an industry too often filled with “quick-fix” scams, “Fast-Weight-Loss” malarky, and “Do-It-This-Way-Cuz-It-Works-For-All” ideas, Alison’s dedication, commitment, sincerity, and, let’s face it – hugs – make her unique in the industry.

In other words, Alison is inspiring. And if you haven’t been lucky enough to work through a bootcamp or other routine with her, then you really don’t have any idea what you’re missing.

Whenever my wife and I see Alison, we find ourselves motivated and inspired to get fit and have fun. In fact, we’ve more than once tried to convince her and her significant other to ditch San Francisco and move to Las Vegas for less than honorable reasons (okay, my wife and I both know we’d be in so much better shape if she was around!).

So if you live in San Francisco, consider yourself lucky.

It was that sort of inspiration that lead to a unique moment on June 24, 2014.

Ten years ago, as a first officer at an airline based in Florida, a Captain asked me if I wanted to join him for a hike during our 24 hour layover in Las Vegas, NV. Not knowing any better, I said yes.

That simple answer lead to a goal that didn’t get accomplished for 10 years.

Ten years ago I attempted my first ascent to the summit of Mount Charleston at 11,600 feet, the summit might not at first glance seem like much of a challenge on your friendly map.

However, the map lies.

You see, the only way to get to the summit – and return – involves hiking over 17 miles roundtrip over trails with a grades averaging over 15%, harrowing cliff edges, hypoxia, panting, crying, and other words not fit for a family blog entry.

In fact, the final trail to the top has a grade of approximately 17-20%. The altitude is so high the mountain is bare of any vegetation or trees because nothing can survive up there.


Ten years ago, when the Captain invited me to try and hike to the top of Mount Charleston, I really had no idea what it might entail. I don’t think he did, either. Needless to say, we didn’t make it that day.

For the next ten years I made 5-7 more attempts all of which ended up short of the summit due to time, weather, closed trails, mud, or other obstacles.

Because of the high altitude, even in Nevada, there is only a small 3 month window that summiting is possible for the “average” person.

June is one of those months.

It was an awe-inspiring moment when I finally reached the summit, hypoxic, breathing hard, crazily scared because the trail to the top looked like this:


… on the bare naked face of fear, above the tree line with my equilibrium shaky. They say you should do something that scares you ever once in awhile – I was more than frightened in those moments.

But then I saw this:


In the center of the photo is what is known as a “Summit Box”. There, you can add your name to a list of those who have also made the perilous trek to the summit of Mt. Charleston near Las Vegas, NV. Sometimes, people leave little photos or trinkets in the box. In my hypoxic state, I wanted to leave something besides my signature on this momentous occasion of finally reaching my 10-year long goal.

And then I was struck by an idea.

I had a business card from Goldilocks Training.


I left the card in the box, took a deep breath, and left the mountain.



Hey Alison.

Go get it!

(Here’s how you get there:)



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