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Thoughts from the Mountain
So, we are back.
We have had an incredible journey. Not necessarily the one we expected, but the one we got.
We did not get to the Summit of Mt Aspiring. Weather, wind and other critical moments intervened and we had to change our plans.
So what were some of our Critical Moments along the way?
Early on we realised that our packs were far too heavy. Carting 23 or more kilos of climbing gear is really tough on the body. And is a challenge for balance. Especially when you are walking in stiff plastic boots across wet sloping rock. Learning what to take and what to cut out is a critical skill in mountaineering, as it is in life (I had already cut the handle off my toothbrush!). It was a harsh physical reminder that sometimes the "baggage" we have with us can prevent us from reaching our goal.
Then the conditions forced us to change our plans. The rain was pelting down on us in the narrow rocky gorge and the water was streaming across the smooth angled slabs that we need to climb. We could hear distant rock-fall and visibility was decreasing.
A Critical Moment arrived where we realised that the risks were not worth it. These kinds of moments can creep up on you. When they are not clearly communicated accidents can easily happen. In our case even recognising that we had reached a critical moment was useful. We stopped, took stock of the situation, and created new options for how to proceed.
We ended up heading back down the valley and finding a different route to the tops. This took us up to French Ridge Hut.
The trip was a huge mental challenge. In fact, the "mountain of the mind" was far more important than the physical mountain. I took some time in the comfort of the hut to pen some thoughts:
"So what is this trip about? I thought it was about climbing a mountain. In fact the mountain is my mind. The rawness of the environment - it does not give a stuff what I want, the wind screams, the rain comes and goes, the kea bird cries... and life and rock go on. We are mere specks, we come and go in a heart-beat of geological time with our big ideas and our even bigger packs and throw the weather dice. If we suceed in standing on top, the mountain remains. If we sit in a rain bound hut then retreat to the valley the mountain remains, unconcerned with our anxious plans. So really, it is not about the snow and rocks. It is about the raw environment that strips our plans and fears naked. Leaves the heart bare - if we will open that tender heart and feel the joy and the fear - and not avert our eyes from its brightness."
After writing this the weather cleared and we did a wonderful ice and rock climb to the summit of Mount French. It was the icing on the cake for an incredible inner and outward journey.
There is a lot more that I could say. Many more Critical Moments. If this interests you and you want more then let me know.
Thanks for your support, tell me what you think.
Posted by Sarah Wilson on 5th February, 2009 | Comments (1)
When I was 5yrs old, they told me I had a weak heart and mustnt be physically stressed or play team games etc. The Dr who fixed it when I was 21 said: Ok now do everything you want except praps dont try to climb (to the top of) Mt Everest !
I'm specially fascinated by your versions of NZ Everest...
Well, at 7 score +, I am establishing a Gender Resource Centre for the support of people who have concerns about their (or their family) gender issues and am already being given strong positive support and promises of real financial support. In such a pressured time, there is real value in
accessing and sharing ones own power, eh... Thank YOU for your coaching example. Do go on safely, taking us up to the magnificent heights
where our achieved success is celebrated together!
Posted on 4 April, 2009 by Beth
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