ethanessig Jan/ 20/ 2018 | 0

There is a beginning, middle, and end to everything.

Where is your focus? I will tell you what I end up thinking about a lot because most of you do the same. I think about the future. I think about promotions, the next house, where will I travel next, and the list goes on. We are all guilty of this kind of thinking. It is a consequence of growth.

I am not necessarily talking about “stuff” I want to accumulate in the future. My mind gets lost in the next book, project, summit, etcetera. Sometimes these ideas can wear on my mind. It is easy to get lost in what hasn’t happened or been accomplished, but it typically takes a look around to snap out of that.

This fixation on success and accomplishments has spilled over into my time in the wilderness. Sometimes my mind has ruined the experience of what is around me. Refusal to “fail” has almost taken everything away from me. Let’s talk about how “The Summit” has taken over the experience of being in the mountains. We are all guilty of it. Falling in love with the idea of saying I summited Mt whatever. Bragging to friends and strangers across the web, time to stop letting that concept ruin precious time in the wilderness.

An Old Problem:

The first mountains climbed in the United States occurred in 1642. Darby Field got the ball rolling by recording the first summit of White Hill (now known as Mount Washington). The mountains of North America have been an escape ever since. Early on, this was something humans did to explore the world around them; the desire to go where no one else has gone.

More people began to summit mountains in the East. As people continued West, they encountered peaks that passed through the clouds. Pieces of the earth that lead to the heavens. Mountains were and always will be magnificent. They will still inspire adventure, but should they encourage ego?

Many of the mountains across this continent are named after those who summited them first. (Put examples of these mountains) Groups of individuals competed against each other, and raced to the summits of the tallest peaks. First ascents earned many a spot in the history books. When I read about these stories, I think to myself, did they lose something between the valley and the summit? Did they experience anything on the adventure?


Charlie Houston: Continental Divide

“Bound by the standards and practice of that time, and very tired from five hard weeks of exploration and load-carrying, we were right to turn back. Others, years later, pushed the envelope further; some did great and heroic deeds, others died, needlessly, victims of ambition and the mind-numbing effects of great altitude. We lived to climb again, for many years. In true mountaineering, the summit is not everything.”

When I read Continental Divide, nothing grabbed me more than this quote. It warns against ego. Houston knew it was about getting out to the wilderness, and being challenged, not about glory. A concept that is easy to forget when measuring yourself against others.

I think to myself; how many people make the life-ending decision on Colorado 14ers because of this fixation on the summit. My last blog was mostly about my lousy choice on a 14er. I understand the mindset of not wanting to fail.


My Mountain Headspace:

I am committing here and now to myself for my future adventures. My focus will be on the process of whatever expedition I am on. Not focusing on the perfect photo, claiming the summit, the post I will write about it, or any other end game. I will undoubtedly fail at this, but the commitment is to be aware of the fact that my mind has lost sight of where it is. Something important to everything in life. Focus on the moment. Don’t give power to the end, but to how you get there.

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