I’ve always liked the motto, “Be Prepared”.

From the moment I was selected as the unofficial leader, guide, or general mountaineering savant for the Dirty Dozen, I tried my best to live up to the responsibility that it entailed. I adopted a vigorous, proactive, positive attitude about the trek despite any misgivings I might have had. The first step was to attempt to get people to the gym, or to at least be more physically active than a sloth. Since I only saw most of the group once a week at the Pizza Port, it was hard for me to really tell if my words were being heeded, or if people were going about their general everyday routines. My second step was to provide as much information as possible about Whitney and mountaineering in general.

The second step was an extension of the first step. I hypothesized that, if people knew more about the climb, they would be more inclined to work out more beforehand and as a result, be in better shape for the actual ascent. To test my hypothesis, I sent out the guide that has appeared over the last couple weeks. I knew that it was long, and covered every detail that could possibly occur over the course of the three days we would be on the mountain. I also knew that the guide had to be that long, because other than one or two people besides me, the bulk of the Dirty Dozen had no real idea what could happen on the mountain. And, even though by and large the group was a bunch of mountaineering novices, there was no need for them to be uninformed about certain unchanging facts surrounding the hike. It was my opinion that even though they were rookies, there was no obvious rule stating that they had to make rookie mistakes.

The week after I e-mailed out the guide, the results of my “test” made me wince. It was obvious that my hypothesis about how to better motivate the Dirty Dozen was bad. I quickly realized that the problem was that I had provided the group with too much information. The guide’s “One Size Fits All” approach had shocked the minds of the group about the possibilities that could happen and the result of this massive informational overload was that no one changed their training habits. It was also questionable whether anyone in the group had actually read the guide, other than E-Rock, who had told me that he thought the guide was actually helpful, and that it could have almost been some sort of official publication.

Despite E-Rock’s minority opinions about the guide and the group’s readiness, I decided to try a new approach to motivating the apathetic Dirty Dozen. I would send out next to no e-mails, and I would only talk about the hike when approached by members of the Dirty Dozen on Thursday nights. At first, the approach seemed to be working, as members of the Dirty Dozen spontaneously organized and went on an early morning training hike. I heard that E-Rock, Nutsmatic, and Lumonox were actually working out on a regular basis in preparation for the trip. Separately, on the sly, other members spoke to me about equipment and conditions on the mountain. But, as the weeks slipped by, I still remained unsure of whether these cosmetic changes indicated actual readiness, or were just a Potemkin façade of absolute unpreparedness.