As a warm-up to the Democratic National Convention, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and his wife, Ruth, climbed a mountain. Last night, Harkin recounted the experience for a group of Iowa reporters who are in Denver to cover the convention. "My wife and I went to Leadville, spent the day at around 10,000 feet and yesterday both Ruth and I climbed our ninth ’14-er,’" Harkin said.
That word — fourteener — means a peak of at least 14,000 feet. The Harkins climbed Mount Sherman, which reaches 14,036 feet above sea level, on Saturday. Several years ago, the couple tried to reach the summit, but ran into bad weather and had to turn back. This time, they reached the summit of Mount Sherman after climbing for just under five hours.
"We got up there, just had our lunch and the storms came out and — I don’t know if you know Sherman; there’s some real narrow passages on Sherman and, God, the winds started and the storms started and all of a sudden we were in a hail storm. So we put on our rain gear and stuff — and coming down these slippery slopes with all the hail and all of a sudden this lightning hits. I thought to myself: ‘God we’re Democrats. They need all of our votes this year. Please, not like this!’
There are over 50 peaks in the Rockies which reach over 14,000 feet and Harkin says he started climbing mountains too late in life to be able to climb all of them. "I love climbing mountains," Harkin said. "It’s good exercise. It’s good for the lungs."
Harkin, who is 68 years old, told reporters he’s been taking potassium pills since he completed the climb to deal with still leg muscles. Harkin’s partner in climbing — his wife, Ruth — is 64.