Mike’s thoughts on Rainier.
Hey everyone, I wrote a email to the guys who climbed with us on Rainier and once I wrote it I thought it summed up the climb for me pretty well. As always I’m never sure if I should share all my private thoughts but you have all treated them well in the past so I’m happy to do so again.
Well it’s been a week or so since we all came off the mountain and if your re-entry back to everyday life has been anything like mine then you have been fielding questions from family and friends about how the climb went.
It seems the more I talk about the climb the better I can explain to everyone what went on during the long 30 hour adventure.
I say 30 hour adventure but as we all know this climb took a lot longer than 30 hours, we all put in massive amounts of training, some maybe more than others but either way we all sacrificed family time or dug into time that was normally put aside for work or other day to day activities so the main event may have been 30 hours but the commitment and investment in this climb was far much more.
In reflection I now have a far better handle on my thoughts and can better explain how I now feel.
When I think back the questions started the second we walked off the snow and onto the paved car park…..
So!…. Dave asked…want to go back up?……I’m sure you can guess what my answer was……No Bloody Chance!
As days went by and I was able to feel my legs again, smile without re-cracking my lips and the sunburn on the backs of my hands stopped stinging in the shower I started to really think about what it was we have done and whether I would ever consider doing anything like Rainier again.
I can only really speak for myself but this climb was full of highs and lows for me…..
As far as the highs go its hard to go pass getting to meet your hero’s never mind knowing you get to hang out with them for the next few days.
I love the fact that we all summited and most importantly returned with zero injuries both physical and mental.
I really enjoyed the mental challenge that the climb put forward to us all, firstly getting your head around the massive bulk of the mountain itself then trying to break it down into small bite size pieces plus trying to keep your nerve in those “No Fall” zones.
As for the lows I had quite a few during the climb, I really thought I had prepared for the climb well and arrived at Rainier confidant that I was going climb strong and impress my experienced guides…..boy!….. Didn’t I underestimate the mountain and my ability?
There were several times even during the first part of the climb to camp Muir that I questioned what I was doing and wether I should even be attempting the climb, the altitude really messed with my head and for whatever reason all my training wasn’t translating to the effort we were putting in on the climb itself……that alone now seems to be the main reason for my frustration while on the hill.
My other low on the climb was more about disappointment, we were in such a beautiful environment and especially when the sun was coming up just before the summit and because I was so exhausted at that stage I really didn’t take it all in, with a fresh mind I would have taken just a little more time to just sit and take in the view and to make a more permanent mental picture.
So after a few days of reflection what did I learn?……well I learned that I’m tougher and more determined than I thought I was.
Over the past few years I have challenged myself in many ways both in business and in adventure and at times I had pushed myself to the limit…..or so I thought.
If I had listened to the voices in my head on the climb and had stopped when they told me too I then would have stopped somewhere near to top of the Cleaver ridgeline or going past the 13.000 ft mark or when I heard the call from someone saying only 300 feet to go, it seemed that every step toward the summit was a step in the wrong direction and my head new that.
One driving force behind wanting to reach the summit and our goal was fear of failure, we have over the past few years made our goals very public by telling everyone about what we are doing and by running our blog, by doing this it really drives us to complete what we started and to sit down and write on our blog why we didn’t complete our goal is not something I really ever want to do…..alot of people tend to sneak up on their goals, attempt them, then if their successful tell of their triumph which is fine however we enjoy the pressure and the support we get from everyone watching what we’re taking on.
What’s cool to me is that when I was sitting on the summit all I could think about was that I was only half way there…what the hell was I going to do to get back down the mountain, I felt I had pushed myself beyond my limit and that’s not a great feeling when your sitting at 14.411 feet.
What I discovered is that I was able to take a few deep breath’s…….steady myself…….suck it up and keep on going, not only to get myself down the hill but doing it while being roped up to my mates and with every deliberate step were able to navigate down the tricky trail all the way to base camp and safety.
It’s a great feeling now to have learned that when you think your broken and you’ve given everything you thought you had…….. That there’s always more inside and you just have to look a little harder to find it.
So would I climb again?……Hmmm……the answer to that is unclear to me at this time but my gut feeling is Yes…… I think when and if the right challenge presents itself I’ll be ready to jump on board for another crack however next time I’ll have this experience under my belt and go into the next challenge better prepared.
To wrap up I feel I can now say with certainly that yes I had a fantastic time on the climb, I met the challenge, I finished on my feet and know now that I could have kept going until the job was finished no matter how long it was going to take. I have left the mountain with more friends than when I started and the experiences from the climb will last a lifetime.
Cheers from Mountaineer Mike