Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Do People Climb Mountains? or When Does a Summit 'Count'?

 Why Do People Climb Mountains? or When Does a Summit 'Count'?

by Kathleen Lisson

In the article ''Deadliest Sport Ever? Why People Risk Their Lives Mountain Climbing,' Bill Fink writes about what motivates people to climb mountains. One of Fink's comments really hit home for me. "Having a set of expert guides and hardworking Sherpas basically drag you to the top of a summit offers neither a proper sense of achievement nor any life lessons for dedication, planning, or teamwork. Essentially you’ve just become a really expensive piece of baggage."

I am reminded of of a story from 46er Grace Hudowalski. Before she made her first hike in the Adirondack High Peaks, her father told her, “It’s not important whether you make the summit. It is important how you make the climb.”

I have learned a lot about myself as I have trained over the past few months for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. 
  • After our long chilly climb up Mount Marcy my husband shared that he respects me a lot more as a hiker than he did last year. He is right. Before I made the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I had climbed a few High Peaks, but saw hiking as a hassle rather than a challenge. I was interested in easy day hikes, not sweating for 6 hours. My worst fault - I was a complainer and a whiner.
  • Now I see a rainy day as a great opportunity to test out my waterproof gear and my skills. I rely on my waterproof boots and gaiters to allow me to step in the muddy trail instead of widening it by searching for a dry spot to walk.  
  • Hiking and camping together has allowed my husband and I to spend more time together without iPhone/tablet/laptop screens getting in the way. At home, we love looking at our screens. Lack of reception lets me look at my husband instead.

In reading other climber's trip reports, I have learned many lessons. Climbers don't wear adequate clothing, don't prepare for frozen Camelback tubes, and/or don't eat for 9 hours during the last segment of the ascent and end up using their porter's clothing or being practically dragged up to the summit. I know that I have no control over the effects of altitude sickness. I hope to be able to make it up to the summit on my own two feet as a result of, to quote Fink, "diligent training, planning, teamwork, and a step-by-step discipline."

Read 'Deadliest Sport Ever? Why People Risk Their Lives Mountain Climbing' here:

No comments:

Post a Comment