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Padecky: Ultimate challenge deepens life's meaning

It's not something you see every day, a man with a 50-pound pack on his back dragging a car tire 6 feet behind him as he walks up the sidewalk on Fountain Grove Parkway. In fact, Scott Holder tries to avoid being seen. He makes that steep 900-foot hike at night, when the light is dim, to minimize the double-takes and the inevitable question: Dude, wouldn't it be easier to call the auto club to fix a flat?

"It's a good workout," said Holder, a master of the understatement.

Life is purposefully difficult for a mountain climber, especially one who wants to do the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on the each of the seven continents. Holder, 48, has done four peaks thus far: North America's Mt. McKinley (20,322 feet), Antarctica's Mt. Vinson (16,050 feet), Europe's Mt. Elbrus (18,510 feet) and South America's Aconcagua (22,838 feet), the world's highest peak outside of the Himalayas. Still to come is Africa's Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet) in February, 2014, followed by Australia's Kosciuszko (7,310 feet) in June and then Asia's Everest in the summer 2015.

Climber Scott Holder

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"Why (do it)?" said Holder, a Santa Rosa financial investor. "Because of this ..."

Holder spreads out his arms across the top of his desk. He sits at that desk and he sits at that desk ...

"I don't want to get what people call 'Broker Body'," said Holder, referring to a sedentary lifestyle in which weight settles to the midsection and the resulting profile, Holder said, "is a pear shape."

Holder could thump a treadmill to keep his 165 pounds trimmed tightly on his 5-foot-7 frame. Ah, but that, for him, would be missing the obvious: Nature.

"I'm discovering what God has created for us," Holder said. "I love going out there and seeing what He has up his sleeve. I love seeing places few people ever see."

Holder could thump around Annadel Park to drink in the outdoors. There's plenty of outdoors at Annadel.

"But there is something so freeing about going up a snow slope," he said.


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