Twenty years ago I did little more than climb; sport climb, trad climb and alpine climb. Like so many other climbers of my generation, Peter Croft was a hero. He was also, and still is, a friend. I vividly remember one morning we spent having coffee together at my house, he was telling me all about a morning he hiked in to climb a North Cascade peak. Alone in the pre-dawn with the smells, the sounds, and the anticipation of going climbing – things all climbers will understand. He recalled crossing some frozen snow where he banged his knuckles, causing them to bleed a bit. Details of the climb were skipped, instead he described seeing the little spots of red in the snow later that day and having his morning come back to him, realizing that he had passed through the environment in the darkness and that he had been a part of a much bigger picture.
Something made me think of that this morning as I hiked alone in the dark toward a climb in the Alps. I am fortunate, for well over twenty years now, the majority of my days have been spent in the mountains. Yet still, when the alarm wakes me in the middle of the night I often feel the same child-like excitement for what I will see, what I will experience, and for all the emotions of the coming day.
We are inundated with images and video, everything everyone does is broadcast with visuals. I am a part of this. Deeper than what we see are the feelings we have when we, as individuals, are actually doing what we love, passing through the environment and taking it all in. We must not forget to slow it all down and do something purely for the sake of what it gives us. And we must not forget that in addition to photos and video and all the impact that they can carry, there are words. Maybe they’re not as fun, and certainly slower paced, but perhaps they are the most important of all. Especially those words which run through our own head and remind us that yes, there is a much bigger picture through which we are passing.
And so this post is just words, I made no photos of my climb, I just thought about how wonderful it was to spend a morning alone in the big mountains.