At least as far as I'm concerned. Two disclaimers right off the bat:
- I don't know anything about mountain climbing and so am at the mercy of other people's judgments on what is significant or not. (In contrast to marathon running, which I do know about and where I therefore felt entitled to be suspicious of the claimed results.)
- Like, apparently, many other people, I drew the wrong inference from Paul Ryan's comment about making "close to 40" climbs of Colorado's "Fourteeners," the 54 summits at elevations of 14,000 feet and above. I understood him -- as did some journalists, political figures, and climbers in Colorado -- to mean around 40 separate mountains. His spokesman clarified that he meant around 40 climbs, of a smaller number of peaks.
For both reasons, plus the abundance of actual substantive topics to deal with, I plan to steer clear of this and all other athletic-performance-related issues about the candidates for the foreseeable future.
But to wrap things up:
1) Craig Gilbert, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote the original story, back in 2009, about Ryan's mountain-climbing record. He has now written an update and amplification of exactly what Ryan told him then. Here are relevant parts from the original interview:
Ryan: "My mom was very outdoorsy ... We spent our summers doing backpacking trips in the (Colorado) back-country, you know, Snowmass Lake, Capital Peak, spent all our summers doing that ... went all over White River National Forest, just the whole Elk range. I mean I've climbed every fourteener in that range and the three around there ... So I got into climbing fourteeners when I was 12, with my brother, Stan. My mom got us into that."
Question: "How many fourteeners have you climbed? Or how many times?"
Ryan: "38. I think that's my last count."
Question: "Those are just climbing peaks that are 14,000 feet?"
Ryan: "I've done it 38 times. ... I've done 38, but I think the number of unique peaks is something like twenty... no, no it's like thirty or something like that. I counted it up a year or two ago."
Question: "Most of those in Colorado?"
Ryan: "All of them are in Colorado. So I think I've climbed like 28 (peaks), and I've done it 38 times, because I've done a number of them a few times. So I was, you know, kind of into that stuff."
Give this a close look and judge for yourself; the phrasing is interesting.