We start where we are
We can only start from where we are. Tethering ourselves to our past or tying ourselves to some unknown future can only slow us or keep from starting at all.
As quickly as the plane had landed upon the hard snow and ice and the team with sleds in tow had spilled out on to the frozen ground, the engines started up again, the tail of the plane bouncing as it powered up.
We secured our sleds and our gear to ensure they wouldn’t blow away and at the same time dialed in our own means of protecting our faces from the cold which greeted us immediately…reminding us where we were and also that it is a place no human ever was meant to live.
As the plane whipped up the snow and blasted it against us, we watched as we saw our means of arrival depart and leave us alone upon the ice with the closest settlement 111 kms away. We were all we had now, a team tied together with a shared goal of reaching the South Pole in the next several days.
Doing away with self-doubt
One of the greatest freedoms comes from moments when you free yourself from self-doubt.
Several months before I stood on the summit of Denali, I was on an emergency evacuation helicopter from Aconcagua base camp. I had just begun my path into the world of high altitude mountaineering and my first big mountain had ended my journey before it truly even begun. My body had recovered within a handful of days, but doubt had remained gripped around me as to whether lofty heights would ever be something I held.
So upon arriving on the summit of Denali amidst a whiteout after three hard weeks battling conditions my smile mixed with tears of unwrapping from the grip that grasped me in fear and doubt of my ability to ever know this moment. In its place has remained a healthy existence of gratitude and humility which I now climb with always.
May embracing unknowns lead you to know wonderful souls and wondrous places that resound positively and perpetually within your life.
Arriving before dawn we met the local guides to lead us through machete hacked and leach filled jungles, across high altitude marshy moorlands, and up to the summit of the highest volcano in Oceania and second highest mountain in Papua New Guinea. This expedition involved continually relinquishing control, giving trust before doubt in the face of adversity and embracing the unknown.
In doing so, the journey to the summit of Mt Giluwe – a mountain few Americans have ever climbed – also became one of the most unique and memorable summits I have ever sought. We likely will never see those who guided and traveled with us during this journey, but they are with us eternally as are the memories of the untouched beauty of the PNG Highlands.
making Your Own Route
Like every mountain, there are numerous routes – some taken, some attempted, some seemingly impossible. How you climb them though makes them your own.
One at a time we clipped into the wind bending ropes before us. On this, the most commonly taken route of Carstensz Pyramid, there have been different means of traversing this section where the ridge line to the summit falls away for a substantial span. Though we all climbed that day to arrive at the same summit along the same route, it is the small differences each of us approached the climb with that came to make it personal and unique for us all.
New perspectives to new paths
Perspectives pave the paths we travel. Thus, seeking new perspectives can expand the paths available to us and disrupt the journey we are on in the most remarkable and meaningful of ways.
Fear not to turn it all upside down, even if just to see it all a bit different. New perspectives can be found all the time and in all kinds of ways.
With my impending departure for Carstensz Pyramid in 2018 and limited rock climbing experience, Gary Newmeyer took a few days to provide me with an intense education far beyond my existing understanding. Each skill I learned and route I climbed provided a new experiential perspective of my potential and also fueled a passion for a discipline of climbing I had till then felt so much discomfort and doubt with doing.
Today is as good as any to begin to seek new perspectives and perhaps discover a path you never knew was there for you.