To you true Mountaineers. I salute you. Mt. Ranier is considered a beginning mountain, but let’s think about that phrase again. Beginning. Mountain. Hmm, something just doesn’t add up for me. Those with experience can shake their heads and whisper, “rookie” if they like and you should, but this was hard for me, much more than anticipated and it seemed like that for everyone in the group that attended with me.
About a year ago, my brother admits that it would be “cool” to climb Mt. Ranier. In a calm voice, I responded, “I’ve been looking for something to do.”
I know, sounds like the beginning of a really bad B movie, where we all could write the screenplay. But, that’s how it all started.
We circled it for 2017, took note of the registration dates and started training. The months until Memorial Day weekend grew closer and closer. The fear became real. Let me preface this story with 2 things:
I’m afraid of heights. (I know what you’re thinking – then why choose a mountain to climb?!? – I’m getting there)
I have 0 experience mountaineering. (In our intro’s to the group, I actually used level 0)
If I’m writing this, then you know I’m alive, so breathe easy that this story turns out just fine, but I struggled. Big time.
Sequence of events and times:
1145 PM: Wake Up
1:06 AM: Step Off
2:45 AM: Take break (Crown/Tooth falls off after eating hard food)
4:00 AM: Second break
5:15 AM: Summit Mt. Ranier – Sun begins to rise
6:00 AM: Descent begins
7:45 AM: Toenails get mashed (Essentially ready to fall off inside sock)
8:15 AM: Dehydration begins (Cramps form in calves, quads and hamstrings)
8:15 AM – 9:20 AM: Head to High Camp (Leg gives out over 10 times and I walked over several crevasses that had huge drops – not to mention that this is the section where I walked over a ladder with 2 pieces of wood with extremely shaky legs, cursing myself for watching the movie Everest)
10:15 AM – Head to Camp Muir (Leg gives out over 15 times)
12:05 PM – Head to Camp Paradise (Parking Lot) – (Legs gives out over 50 times in the next 3.5 hours
And I didn’t even mention the rocks that headed my way on day 2!!!
What did I learn? 3 things in my NDE, excuse me, my mountain climbing experience. Please don’t think this is negative, I loved every second of it!
When we kicked off at 1:06 AM, I couldn’t see the 1000 ft. cliffs outside of my lamp on my head. THAT was a good thing, I focused on each step, each breath and recognized that the mountain couldn’t go on forever. Business lesson: Don’t get caught on analysis paralysis – focus on the one step at a time, regardless of the dream/goal/task.
You’re only as good as those who guide you. Our guides, from Alpine Ascents, were amazing. Seth/Josh/Anna/Robyn were all amazing individuals and I owe my life to them for saving it and all the encouragement. Business lesson: Be careful of those who mentor you, pick them wisely and always know that they have your best interest at heart.
Realities>Goals>Dreams – Dreams are awesome and we all have them. Goals are nice and we should all set them. Realities are few and far between for people. Business lesson: Very few people take theirs/organization’s dreams and turn them into realities. Take the vision, make it specific with a timetable that turns it into a goal and finally keep working on it, until it becomes a reality.
Hey – what about your fear of heights? Trust me, every step on the small trails scared me and all I could do, was focus. Step in the spot of the person in front of me. Focus. Step. By step, that was my focus. Breathing was my focus. I blocked out all the fear by focusing on the task and that’s what allowed me to get through it.
How was the summit? Amazing. So amazing because I thought of all those who supported me in this endeavor, all those people who wished me good luck and all those people who didn’t believe I could do it. It’s a bittersweet moment, so much that even as we drove away – I still didn’t believe that I had been up that mountain. It may be years before I fully reflect on that journey, but it was definitely a journey where things didn’t go the way I had planned, but then again, when does it ever happen like that?