James Fallows at the Atlantic raised a concern earlier today that Paul Ryan may have lied when he told the press that he had completed around 40 especially-high mountain climbs in the Rockies. From Fallows:
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.
The problem, Fallows notes, is that it takes an awful lot of time to make any individual climb, let alone 40 of them.
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.
The Romney campaign responded to Fallows, with a bit of a non sequitur:
Hey James – caught your entertaining piece. Unfortunately, you’ve got some bad info in there. We’re not sure where this started, but he’s not said 40 different peaks, its nearly 40 climbs – with a number of peaks climbed more than once. He’s been doing them for more than 20 years. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article from ’09 doesn’t say 40 separate summits, but instead “He is fairly careful about what he eats, performs an intense cross-training routine known as P90X most mornings, and has made close to 40 climbs of Colorado’s “Fourteeners” (14,000-foot peaks).”
Here’s the problem. If the issue is that the Fourteeners are remote, and hard to get to if you’re not a resident, and thus climbing 40 of them would have taken more time than Ryan likely has had in his relatively short life, it doesn’t lessen the amount of time needed to make the climbs simply claiming that they werent 40 “different” mountain peaks. So the campaign’s answer doesn’t pass muster.
But it’s even worse. Ryan has been a congressman since 1999 – the past 13 years. He’s supposedly been climbing these peaks for “more than 20 years,” so let’s say 21 years. Where did Paul Ryan find the time to take a few months off each summer to climb these peaks while serving as a member of the US House of Representatives? (The expert climbers say he’d need an entire summer to climb the mountains at the pace he claimed, but let’s say his pace was slower, so that’s why I’m saying 6 weeks to 8 weeks of vacation for climbing.)
First off, just how much vacation time did Mr. Ryan take each summer on the public dole – does he think this is France?
Second, I’ve worked for a member of Congress – their schedules are brutal. Even during “recess,” they’re not on recess – they’re back home holding multiple meetings a day with constituents. There’s no way Paul Ryan took several months off each summer to go hiking, his job wouldn’t permit it.
So most of Ryan’s climbs would have had to have happened during the 8 years he wasn’t a member of Congress. And if expert climbers say it’s highly unlikely that any one man could compete 40 climbs in twenty years, imagine how hard it would be to complete 40 climbs in only 8 years?
Not to mention, if the campaign is claiming that Ryan did the same mountains over and over again, then he likely didn’t do the same mountain twice during the same trip – that would be a bit stupid, climbing up, climbing down, then climbing back up and down again on the same mountain. So during each individual trip, Ryan climbed several different mountains, which meant additional travel time getting to the other mountains.
In any case, after Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time (something actual marathoners are saying is rather un-credible), now it seems that he also may have lied about his supposed mountaineering. If Ryan lied about this too, after making a record number of lies during his convention keynote, he may become a larger and larger drag on the Romney ticket, as they fight to explain his aversion to the truth instead of criticizing President Obama’s record.