Director, Nutrition Services,
Swedish Medical Center
Hometown: Albuquerque, N.M.
Education: B.A., sociology, University of Colorado; B.S., dietetics, University of Washington
Married. Lives with husband, Mike, in Kent, Wash.
Kris Schroeder, 2007 Silver Plate winner in healthcare, has had a drive to climb to the summit from a very early age. She recalls her mom telling the story of how she found her toddler daughter perched on the top shelf of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves one day. “She was mortified…I was happy as a clam,” she chuckles. Here Schroeder—a petite dynamo at 5 ft. 2-in. and 125 lbs.—reveals just why she climbs 60 flights of stairs at work each day.
“When I was a freshman at the University of Colorado in Boulder, I began to do some rock climbing. The Flatirons with their striking rock formations are quite the challenge. When [future husband Mike and I] finally got together, we climbed in Colorado with his brothers. Then, when we got married and moved to the Pacific Northwest, climbing volcanic peaks became attractive.
Mike, now retired, was a veterinarian and through his practice met a couple who were climbers. The husband became our mentor in teaching us the skills of glacier climbing, crevasse rescue and wielding an ice ax.
We used to climb Mount St. Helens (8,364 ft.) every year after it reopened, and we always liked to take someone along who’d never climbed, since that one is, relatively technically easy. It would give them a taste of what climbing is like, plus, it’s exciting to look into the crater of an active volcano.
If you do any kind of hiking or climbing, stair climbing is excellent training. The whole daily stair-climbing thing started when I was still at the University of Washington Medical Center. Three of us—a nurse and another nutritionist—would climb the stairwell in the health sciences building from the basement to the 19th floor, doing three sets before lunch. Here at Swedish, it’s 15 flights and a couple of us do four sets, for 60 flights each day.
When Mike and I were younger, we could do 1,000 feet of gain, about one mile, in 30 minutes. When you’re climbing, you have to know how long you’ll be on the mountain, how much daylight is left, how fast you can go, and can you sustain that. Not to say that we were ever really in prime condition, but training is so important; that’s part of my motivation for climbing the stairs every day. I want to be able to say, ‘Let’s go climb Fife’s Peak next weekend’—that’s about a 10-mile roundtrip.
When you’re in a group you must have a leader. The primary concern is the safety of the team. The party is only as strong as its weakest climber, and the leader needs to know the abilities of everyone. There are some parallels in terms of leadership that are important: safety is primary. The summit is not the be-all and end-all, but all on the team need to be working toward the same thing.
You want to fuel your body with carbs. The secret to that is eating often—my rule is every half hour. Plus, dehydration is easy to develop and extremely debilitating. I used to set a little timer for every 30 minutes, then drink and eat at least 15 to 30 grams of carbs, maybe a Power Bar, a Fig Newton, a banana.
One of my goals in staying fit is to do the Pacific Crest Trail from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada. Some people do it all in one shot, taking about six months; others do it in little bits. It takes training for stamina and [handling] elevation gain.”