Dr. Ryan Ross D.D.S., enjoys spending his vacations at the summit of a mountain.
"I love it," he said. "It's really something - like a winter wonderland."
What started as a simple plan to get into shape led him on some amazing adventures.
"I was working out, I'd lost about 50 pounds and I was bored with working out just to work out," he said. "Now I work out with a goal in mind."
With a membership to the Clay County YMCA, Ross began spending his free time working to achieve his goal.
In June 2008, he achieved his goal and climbed Mount Rainier, in Washington state. At 14,410 feet it is the highest peak in the Cascade Mountain Range and the summit is composed of two volcanic craters.
"I gave myself a year to train and it's fairly safe," he said with a laugh in regard to it being an active volcano.
After his first climb, Ross was hooked and decided to try a charity climb. Working in conjunction with the Elks Lodge No. 762, Brazil, a fundraiser was set up and all the money donated to the Indiana University Medical Center for Cancer Research.
In January 2009, Ross flew to Mexico City and had two goals in mind: Reach the summits of two mountains.
Mount Ixtaccihuatl, a dormant volcano is the seventh-highest mountain in North America, and the third highest in Mexico is 17,343 feet. Its name means the sleeping princess, the sleeping woman or the white woman.
"It was fun, we did some acclimation hikes, so our bodies could adapt to the changes in elevation and we stayed in climbing hostiles," Ross said. "It took four days to climb the mountain itself."
The charity climb, motivated him to succeed.
"It was very rewarding to make it to the summit, it made it worth it," he said. "I was going to make sure I got to the top."
Once he was done climbing Mount Ixtaccihuatl, Ross continued with his vacation. But there was no time for the sand, sun or drinks with little umbrellas. He wanted more snow and climbing.
The second part of his trip involved climbing Mount Pico de Orizaba, an active volcano and the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America.
Orizaba is 18,504 feet, however, Ross and the seven other climbers and two guides were forced to turn back at 17,000 feet because of the wind and snow, which increased the danger threat.
"It is kind of like unfinished business now," he said. "Now I have to go back and finish."
While climbing Orizaba, Ross had his first experience sleeping in a tent at that elevation.
"You don't sleep at 15,000 feet," he said. "It's not fun."
In January 2009 he took his family with him to Washington, while he climbed Mount Rainier a second time, wife Cara, sons Pierce, 13, and Nicholas, 10, spent their days hiking. After his trip up the mountain, Ross and his sons hiked 8,500 feet up Mount Rainier and both boys expressed interest in mountain climbing when they are older. Cara has decided, not to follow her husband up the mountain, however she always waits anxiously for his return.
"She fully supports me and my decision to do this," he said with a laugh. "But she doesn't want to go with me."
Ross has another trip scheduled to travel to Mexico in November and climb Orizaba, and he's spending a lot of time at the YMCA on the Stairmaster training.
His goal is to one day climb Mount McKinley, Alaska, which would take an entire month, and then maybe he will consider Mount Everest.
So why spend all the time training and preparing the body to climb to climb a mountain while carrying 40-50 pounds, of equipment in the snow and freezing temperatures with a 12-15 hour summit climb?
"When you make the final climb to the summit it's midnight and when you finally get to the summit it's about 10 a.m.," he said. "So to actually see the sunrise at 14,000 feet is surreal."
For more information on mountain climbing, log onto www.rmiguides.com.