Former Natchez resident scales Mt. Whitney

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Life is path full of peaks and valleys, with obstacles to overcome along the way. Few people know that better than former Natchez resident Jim Browning, who recently climbed Mount Whitney in California. All the more daunting than climbing the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, is the fact that Browning did it alone, in one day, and in just over 14 hours.

As big a challenge as climbing 14,000 feet in a single day is, Browning said that it was more liberating than anything else.

&8220;I started at 2 a.m.,&8221; Browning said.

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&8220;Being alone on the side of a mountain is very liberating. In this day and age, people have to be creative and find ways to become inspired.&8221;

While inspiration provided the extra fuel he needed to scale Mount Whitney, Browning&8217;s training regimen took care of the rest. Four months prior to the start of the climb, Browning began visiting the Savannah Boxing Club in Houston.

&8220;Living at Houston and being at sea level I knew it was going to be tough,&8221; Browning said. &8220;The last month and a half I turned the intensity of my training up a notch, because I knew I was going to complete the climb.&8221;

As Browning began his climb, he knew that something was different about this, his third attempt.

&8220;I never had any doubts or second guesses,&8221; Browning said.

&8220;I had been there before. Along the way I drew on inspiration at different moments. At 5:30 a.m. the sun was coming up and I was at 12,000 feet. It was beautiful, and that renewed my strength.&8221;

Browning said that the last 1000 feet were the toughest part of the climb as his body yearned for oxygen, but something inside kept pushing him higher and higher.

At 10 a.m., Browning reached the summit where he went through a spiritual moment, as he kneeled to pray over a geological marker he had brought along with him.

&8220;I said a prayer and got a little teary-eyed,&8221; Browning said. &8220;I thanked God, and prayed for my friend, who has a sick baby. When I got home I gave the marker to him and he placed it on the carriage.&8221;

While Browning had plenty of time for introspection during the climb, he says it wasn&8217;t until he was on his way home that he was provided with the greatest insight he gained from the trip.

&8220;I had to cross Death Valley on the way home, and it hit me that life has parallels, in that it is full of highs and lows,&8221; Browning said. &8220;You have to go out of your way and work harder to reach those highs, but they are so very worth the work it takes to reach them.&8221;