Paul Ryan's 40 14ers? About as Credible as his 2:50 Marathon


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Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Nov 4, 2012 - 11:45am PT
Wait a minute, I don't see Ryan in there anywhere.


Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Nov 4, 2012 - 12:50pm PT
What handsome men in that photo!

Trad climber
Cali Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Nov 4, 2012 - 12:54pm PT
About as Credible as his 2:50 Marathon

Wait a minute, are calling Paul Ryan the Rosie Ruiz of 14ers? lol
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 4, 2012 - 06:50pm PT
Rosie Ruiz? She was relatively unsophisticated. Check out this article on a guy who is suspected of cheating in marathons, but how he does it, no one has figured out.

Kind of pathetic really.

Love this quote about how the cheater was discovered through internet running message boards:

Not long after McGrath began his research, he decided to go public, sort of. His medium was LetsRun, a Web site devoted to news about élite track and distance running. One of LetsRun’s salient features is its “World Famous Message Boards,” where most participants use pseudonyms, and the content quality runs the expected gamut (factual, analytical, sophomoric, inanely combative).
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2012 - 11:38am PT
Bumping this thread to counter the mysterious disappearance of mountain climbing/political content on the eve of the election.

Trad climber
Somewhere halfway over the rainbow
Nov 5, 2012 - 11:54am PT
Speaking of credibility, the deep scrubbing of the original thread heard round the world brings SuperTopo's credibility into question. And quite rightly so.

Trad climber
Somewhere halfway over the rainbow
Nov 5, 2012 - 11:59am PT
Paul Lyin' Ryan, all widow's peak and peak bragging- no peak bagging.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 5, 2012 - 12:57pm PT
If the electoral votes tie at 269 we get Romney but no Ryan!
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Nov 5, 2012 - 01:22pm PT
Rick, Thanks for re-posting this (which I had missed the first time around).

The crux is:

The Ryan campaign attempted to use the Colorado 14ers in a very political (and cynical) manner to burnish Ryan's credentials in a key battleground state.

When these claims were seriously questioned (something that Ryan's campaign didn't anticipate), there was a major attempt to re-write, retract, cover-up and obfuscate.

While no-one really cares whether Ryan has climbed 3 or 40 Colorado 14ers ** (his absolutely primeval policy stances are what really concerns me), Ryan's boosters are right -- this issue says a lot about his character.

** I've only done 1 (Longs Peak)

John Butler

Social climber
SLC, Utah
Nov 5, 2012 - 01:24pm PT
I really have nothing to add... but feel compelled to have at least one post on the the BEST SUPERTOPO POLITICAL THREAD EVER...



State of Mine
Nov 5, 2012 - 01:42pm PT
The Eiger, The Monc,

riley congrats on these summits....Eiger is 13,025 ft, Monch is 13,474 per wikipedia. not a big deal, but if ryan included 13ers as 14ers like you just did i am sure that all you puritans would crap all over him as a lier....

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Nov 5, 2012 - 02:46pm PT
I buy the notion that integrity matters. You should represent your achievements accurately. I like Rick.

However, to ask for a log with all sorts of statistics - that is so foreign to me. I realize that a faction of the climbing world keeps that type of data. Many of us mere mortals simply don't keep such detailed logs. I climbed the Grand Teton - not a 14ner - while pregnant in 1992. I have no photos as I lost the camera prior to reaching the lower saddle. I didn't even look for the summit register as a lightening storm was rapidly approahcing. I can't tell you the exact date I summitted, though I can describe the week and weather in a lot of detail. I can't give you the exact dates that I attempted Shasta, climbed Whitney, Rainier, ......I've climbed a few peaks many times, and don't keep any log of that.

As a younger woman I kept detailed records of running from every training run to every race with copious notes. The record keeping suddenly stops when I got hurt. I still run almost daily and I still race and do marathons. I can't tell you how many 3rd place tropies I have.

People do try to make connections with various groups of enthusiasts. I don't require proof or statistics to qualify you as someone who is also a climber, mountaineer, runner, skier, etc. If you want to take the first place trophy, don't pull a Rosie Ruiz. I don't really care if you have climbed 5 peaks or 50 peaks. That qualifies you as someone who has been in the mountains.

Not all people who have been in the mountains thinks alike. My vote isn't given to the person best qualified for the job of governing in a very divided and difficult political climate.

Of course, I haven't seen the public discussion going on in Colorado. It seems very strange to me. From afar, the candidate needs to impress me on a different dimension than athletic accomplishment to earn my vote.

Sport climber
Nov 5, 2012 - 03:29pm PT
This thread is amazing.

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Nov 5, 2012 - 03:41pm PT
Well, I was just thinking.

If Paul Ryan did do all those peaks or some subset of them, did he use EPO? Would it be OK, since he's not a professtional? Where did he get it? Was he sponsored? Can his titles be taken?

Could this be Paul Ryan?


Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Nov 5, 2012 - 06:28pm PT
I've been hard at work to do all the 14ers in California
My total "10", after 40 years of work,
and not sure I'll ever get to check another one off.

So ... that's one every four years or one in forty years. What's your best marathon time?


Ice climber
the ghost
Nov 5, 2012 - 06:37pm PT

Is that Lyin Ryan on the summit?
Nope, guess not, what I thought was a sedan chair is just a boulder.

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Nov 5, 2012 - 07:19pm PT
I posted a TR about my Whitney debacle, complete with pictures. I have summitted Rainier twice - the second time on my 50th birthday, June 26, 2007. I couldn't tell you the first time without spending a few hours looking through files. Can't tell you the date I summitted Evans. Most of my climbing records consist of month and year for the first time I attempted a climb, then a note on lead, toproute, dogged, stick clipped, grudge, or other term to describe of success/failure. I might subsequently note when I finally did it free, and the style may still have been completely laughable. My best marathon was 3:10:06 sometime in the 1990's - one of my Boston marathons.

Perhaps I am just not as compulsive about these things, and therefore I don't care if someone has climbed 1 or 40 14ners. It doesn't qualify them for office.

I would much rather dwell on the public legislative, service, and professional record when determining who I vote for. I don't care if they are Catholic, Mormon, a climber, a runner, a smoker, married, divorced, etc. All people are imperfect. I have no one issue litmus test. I pay much more attention to what people actually did.

And unfortunately neither ticket presented me with a perfect candidate for President and Vice President. I feel much like the 60 Minutes piece showed yesterday - very disappointed that the parties will not work together for the common good. If I have a litmus test, that would be it. Show me that you dwelled on what you can do and that you will work across the aisle for the benefit of the country and not just your party. Can you have a conversation about the issues without labelling everything as Democrat or Republicn? Where is the win-win? Why is everything a win-lose proposition?

Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2012 - 11:07am PT
Bump, because we should not tolerate censorship, even on the playground of Supertopo.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 6, 2012 - 12:32pm PT
that looks like a late summer aerial shot of Longs.

Pretty cool!
(too bad it wasn't taken a couple hours earlier)
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2012 - 12:41pm PT
For those of you who dismiss the deleted thread as having no impact on the presidential race, let's consider the facts. They demonstrate otherwise.

Google "Paul Ryan mountain man" and you get 23.5 million results; google "Paul Ryan mountain climbing lies" and you get 1.1 million results.

Here is a sampling of hundreds of sources that cited--directly or indirectly-- the conversation on the original, mysteriously deleted thread, "Paul Ryan has climbed 40 of Colorado's fourteeners."

The Atlantic Monthly , where respected journalist James Fallows quoted extensively from the thread:

A crucial "will it matter?" factor is whether this proves to be one embarrassing but isolated glitch, or whether the new scrutiny it provokes will turn up other, similar problems. I have argued that on big questions of public policy, Ryan showed impressive sangfroid in standing before a national audience at the convention saying things he knew would be easy to attack. But I've known of no other indications of personal whoppers like the marathon.

Here's the first exception. Ryan has told his hometown paper that he has climbed "close to 40" of the famous "Fourteeners" in Colorado -- the 54 peaks more than 14,000 feet high. In fairness, he made this claim a few years ago, before he knew he would be under the scrutiny he is now.

Still: this claim makes me even more suspicious than his marathon answer did. I know nothing about mountain climbing, so give my views appropriate weight. But to see what people who do have experience think, you might check out the current comments at the climbers' site SuperTopo. One explains the reason for his skepticism:

The 54 peaks are scattered throughout remote parts of Colorado and you have to visit out-of-the-way little towns and valleys to tick the list, towns and valleys that you would never visit otherwise....

To have climbed forty and not be a resident means that you would have had to devote entire summers to climbing fourteeners, in essence becoming a "lifestyle" hiker/scrambler. I doubt Ryan had the time or dedication to fourteeners to take the required time out from his political career. Even if you did four a summer, that would be ten summers devoted to traveling to Colorado for the purpose of high altitude hiking. Even if you live here and can drive to the trail heads, forty is a huge commitment of time and energy.

This reader then quoted an admiring op-ed about Ryan, from someone who believed the "about 40" claim:

Why does it matter that Paul Ryan is a mountain man, at home above timberline on the fourteeners? Because there is no better index of character. It tells of someone's backbone under pressure, resourcefulness in facing adversity, and trustworthiness for power. Conservative or liberal isn't the point. The high peaks simply test your mettle. Declinists and defeatists need not apply.

The skeptical climber replied:

Why does it matter that Paul Ryan--as seems likely in light of his marathon fabrication--is not a "mountain man" and is lying about his fourteener record? Because there is no better index of character. It tells of someone's desperation to connect to the voters of a swing state, his ability to make stuff up without conscience, and ruthless ambition to obtain power through any means. It also indicates his contempt for the citizens of Colorado. He apparently believes that Colorado voters are clueless and that the press is a lapdog that has lost any ability to check facts. Dedicated hikers, scramblers, climbers, hunters, fishermen and other aficionados of the Colorado high peaks do not need to exaggerate their visceral connection to the Colorado high country and need not apply to become a faux mountain man, like Paul Ryan.

As I understand it, mountain-climbing is like marathon-running in this way: people pay enough attention to their achievements that they remember the details, and they know that they are written down somewhere. Lists of who has climbed which "Fourteener," like lists of finishers and their times for marathons, are part of the permanent record of each pursuit. As with his marathon time, this is so specifically impressive a claim that it should be very easy to back up and dismiss doubts about**. If it is true.

If not, this is trouble.

The New York Times:

The New Yorker magazine:


British newspaper, the Daily Mail:

international business times:

The Romney/Ryan campaign took time out from the early days of the Ryan campaign to respond to the fourteener controversy. Certainly, the Ryan campaign took the thread seriously, since it saw fit to respond to Fallows within one hour of his blog post.

The New York times article by Trip Gabriel demonstrated that the Ryan campaign was worried enough to allow a reporter to witness Ryan and his brother counting up the fourteeners on the campaign plane, in an attempt to try to innoculate itself against the internet virus portraying Ryan as one who has little regard to the truth.

The original theme of the Colorado Ryan campaign touted his forty fourteeners and sought to portray Ryan as a man to match the Colorado mountains. This clearly was an orchestrated campaign, planned by top Republican state officials, including the chairman of the Colorado GOP campaign.

Paul Ryan was announced as the VP candidate on August 10, 2012. State GOP chairman Ryan Call kicked off the Colorado campaign on August 11, 2012 in an interview in the Denver Post when he sought to portray Ryan as a mountain man because of his forty fourteener ascents.

Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call said Ryan is a humble, religious family man whose goal is to reduce federal spending, the national debt and the role of government.

"I think it's exciting. I think it's bold. I think it's inspirational," he said of Romney's choice of a running mate.
Ryan has been a leader who has attracted bipartisan support for meaningful reforms, Call said.

Claims by Democrats about his economic plans are intended to "scare seniors" and are "downright dishonest and disingenuous."
In truth, Obama was the one who has cut hundreds of billions from Medicare since he was elected, Call said.

"I think (Ryan) is a really good choice," said former Republican Gov. Bill Owens. "Paul Ryan has been such a leader in warning us we're headed over a fiscal cliff."

Call said he has met Ryan, who told him he has climbed nearly 40 of Colorado's 53 fourteeners, or mountains above 14,000 feet in elevation.
"I think he appreciates the beauty of Colorado," he said.

Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said Ryan's ultra-athletic and outdoors lifestyle is in sync with Coloradans and that part of his background will attract state voters.

"He is immediately going to add enthusiasm to the camp of the Republican ticket," Ciruli said. "This will help reframe the debate to the budget, spending and the national debt."

Colorado pundits react to Mitt Romney's choice for running mate - The Denver Post

Then on August 26, 2012, former Colorado state senate president, Jon Andrews, wrote the histrionic op-ed piece in the Denver Post that continued the campaign to portray Ryan as a Colorado "mountain man".

Add to this the hard-charging congressman's love for the Colorado high country (he has climbed 28 of the state's 54 peaks over 14,000 feet) and you have the most potentially transformative VP selection since President William McKinley put Theodore Roosevelt on the ticket in 1900. (Not the genteel Roosevelt, squire of Hyde Park, but his "strenuous life" cousin who ranched in Dakota and hunted bear in Glenwood Springs.)

Why does it matter that Paul Ryan is a mountain man, at home above timberline on the fourteeners? Because there is no better index of character. It tells of someone's backbone under pressure, resourcefulness in facing adversity, and trustworthiness for power. Conservative or liberal isn't the point. The high peaks simply test your mettle. Declinists and defeatists need not apply. Excuses are for flatlanders.

Describing the summit approach for Capitol Peak near Aspen (14,130 feet), the Colorado Mountain Club guidebook says with jaunty understatement: "Scramble around a pinnacle or two, stroll along the knife edge," and you're there. Ryan told me last week that Capitol and nearby Pyramid Peak (14,018 feet) are his favorite climbs so far.

Can you imagine Vice President Joe Biden even wanting, let alone being able, to stroll the Capitol knife edge? Or forging to the top of a "very rough and steep" Pyramid, with its "precariously poised rocks" warned of in the same guidebook?

Andrews: Paul Ryan, mountain man - The Denver Post

There is a suspicion that whoever started the deleted Supertopo thread was a Republican social media activist and that the thread was part of the GOP campaign. The thread was started, soon after Ryan was announced, by a poster who was new to Supertopo, and who has never posted any climbing content, to anyone's recollection.

After the deleted thread got traction over the internet with its suggestion that Ryan lied about climbing fourteeners, the theme of Paul Ryan, mountain man, was abandoned. Ryan brought up fourteeners only briefly in his Colorado campaign appearances after this and never mentioned the claimed number of 40 fourteeners again.

The thread on Supertopo acted as a fact check of Paul Ryan's exaggerated mountain climbing claims and exposed Ryan as a peak bagging poseur to hundreds of thousands, according to the google results totals.

So the facts demonstrate that the deleted thread did have an impact on the Romney/Ryan campaign by (1) helping to define Ryan early in his campaign as one who lied, not only in his speeches, but also about his athletic feats (2) stopping in its tracks the original campaign in swing state Colorado that sought to show a Ryan connection to Colorado through his fourteener claims; and (3) forcing the candidate to take time out from early campaigning to respond to the growing understanding that he habitually varnished the truth.
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