project grand teton : the last post...why i wanted to climb the mountain


i gave up rock climbing years ago. i loved being outside, but, honestly, i didn't like the ego
that seeps into many as they "conquer," "punish," "mount," or any "pick-your-empirialistic-verb" when they set out on their projects in the wilderness. i just couldn't handle it any more.

so i put my climbing shoes away in a box somewhere, forgot what my harness looked like, and started walking, strolling, and picnicking with ceej and a handful of friends. 
i really enjoyed just being outside and watching wildness. there were never any hard-and-fast goals.

just go outside.

i was convinced, and ceej was convinced, that i'd never put on a harness again or tie a figure-8 knot.

this was enough. and it still is. 

however, last fall as i went walking through the grand tetons up cascade canyon
ceej and james climbed the entire grand teton in one day.
they were exhausted by the time we met up again. i was relieved that i had not joined them.
long ago i gave up on seeking exhaustion, limits, and the edge (they seem to come naturally enough).

i was happy with my little stroll. and i was content to end the day reading about trees while i awaited
their safe return.

i looked at their pictures, and was happy for ceej that he did something he had always wanted to do.
no further thought on my part. hooray for ceej.

but the thought of doing something outside of my comfort zone slowly started to fill my hesitant veins. 
maybe i wanted to climb the grand teton? 
maybe i wanted to start climbing and skiing the volcanoes of the northwest?
maybe i wanted to really explore the west, and learn to find comfort in my discomfort...
even if it meant dealing with the ego: mine and everyone else's.

so we started planning. casually. i started running more, and running up mountains (which is usually more like fast walking). but i decided i was probably stronger than i thought. i decided that i needed to understand my mind and my body better. i decided that beautiful mountains, fantastic views, and difficult climbs were worth it. or, at least i hoped they were.

for most of my life i felt weak in many ways. so vulnerable.
i still feel weak and vulnerable...

but now i know that feeling weak and vulnerable and inadequate have nothing to do with my ability to accomplish challenging tasks. if i wasn't sacred, what's the big deal? 

so here i am, once again, learning to embrace vulnerability in a new way. 

climbing the grand teton started out relatively easy. it was challenging, but in that "i feel strong" sort of way. but as the storm came closer, and the hours slipped away, and my mind started to worry the vulnerability came back. and i'm glad it did. i learned that when i'm scared i can keep my cool and keep moving. i learned that when i'm scared i can also lose it, and start crying when my body won't respond like i want it to. i learned that both moving and crying now and then are incredible ways our body and mind get us through tough situations. 

thanks to ceej and matt for being the best guides i could have ever had. they were funny, encouraging, thoughtful, strong, and humble. these are my favorite kind of mountain people. 

immediately after our trip, and for the following two weeks i never thought i'd want to do that again...
but, now, of course, i'm thinking about another adventure up the grand someday...maybe after we climb and ski down mt. rainier, of course


Unknown said...

Wow. I want to say congratulations, but it doesn't feel quite like the right thing to say! Well done. So well done. Your photographs from the climb are beautiful and help me understand (just a tiny bit) how big and tough this climb was. I can relate to your experience on wanting to climb with my experience of wanting to run. I have experienced the ebb where I have no desire to run, and then the flow where all I want to do is go for miles. The latter experience has taken me through a marathon. My current state of mind has me running just a little bit, waiting until I'm ready for something more.

I hope your week is starting off well. I enjoyed reading your blog post lots!

Angy is my name. said...

Particularly touched by this post. Vulnerability is such a personal thing yet such a human condition. I applaud your bravery - thank you so much for sharing. XX

em said...

i <3 climbing

you should check out the Obed in east Tennessee!

Debie Grace said...

I want to climb, too! But I just don't know who to be with since all my friends aren't into it. But it's on my list for this year. I love reading your climbing updates and I really enjoy them. Very, very inspiring. Thank you! :)

Ashely said...

I cried on the Grand, too!