The planning phase of an adventure is one of the most exciting parts of the journey. It’s where you somehow come up with an audacious goal, brainstorm and start imagining the possibilities. As a fairly big goal-setter I tend to spend a lot of time planning out what’s next. I don’t limit this to personal achievements but also plan work ventures and family experiences. It keeps me driven otherwise I don’t feel like I’m living life. Others are fine with regular routines and average / safe life experiences, and that’s great, but that’s not me.
Creating a goal is based on opportunity, timing, ability and finances. If I’m traveling somewhere for work I try to find something unusual in that area that I can explore, typically in the form of mountaineering. I have something on the East Coast coming up where I’m planning an ultra climb of multiple peaks in a very small timeframe. Stay tuned.
Goals create purpose and motivation. When you live to just survive the week, you’ll probably survive but you probably won’t smile much. Like having faith a goal gives you direction and a reason to keeping pushing forward in life.
Cliche warning – Accomplishing goals is the ultimate challenge but I don’t feel it’s as important as the journey there. You learn so much along the way and many times realize your end goal wasn’t even close to what you were searching for. In the end you develop better habits of small goal creations and attainable accomplishments. This is a fantastic trait to display by actions to your children to prepare them for the real world.
“For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.” Ecclesiastes 5:3
Like I told Anderson Cooper off camera last month, “7 billion people on this earth don’t get me.” We are all wired differently and no matter how hard we try we can’t rationalize why others do what they do. Every mountaineer has a different reason for climbing. Some of the reasons overlap but there isn’t a perfect formula that intrigues people to the mountains. Some are in awe of the beauty or attracted to danger where some like the fancy gear and summit pics. One appeal is the interesting people you meet on climbs. They have different backgrounds, skill sets and are chasing their unique dreams. On my last climb I ran into 2 different groups, 1 was high school friends and the other 67 year old friends. They were opposite extremes but still awesome to talk to and understand their motivations.
I’ve heard a lot of criticism in my days of climbing and was even told I was “going to die on Everest” in a Starbucks right before my expedition (in front of my kids). I included that situation in my book, Blind Descent, and in the end felt I handled it well. In most circumstances it’s an opportunity to educate others about the mountains, the sport and the risks. But there will always be haters and you can’t please them all. The best defense is the remain consistent, do what you’re interested and capable of doing and live life with no regrets.
This year there have been several major mountaineering deaths with the Khumbu Icefall avalanche that killed several Sherpa and the recent Mount Rainier Liberty Ridge incident killing 6. Each instance is a grim reminder of the dangers of climbing. It’s important to respect the mountain, the people and the sport rather than use it for political gain. It’s disrespectful in my opinion to do anything other than pray and honor the dead.
Yes climbing is dangerous as the mountains are unpredictable. But that is part of the allure, since you train hard, hone your skills and utilize route finding, safety techniques and practical thinking skills to avoid the dangers. There are things outside of your control but there are a lot more within your control. I passed through the Khumbu Icefall 8 times during my 2011 summit climb. The same ice bulge that calved off and killed the Sherpa this year was the same one that loomed over me 3 years ago. It could have easily taken me out, but I was lucky. I did experience falling seracs and avalanches through the icefall but again, I was lucky to make it through alive and a lot of climbing through objective hazards comes down to luck.
The reasons I climb have changed over the years. In the early days it was an exciting adventure with a lot of new skills to learn, fitness regimens to change and experiences to…well, experience. Those all remain true as I’m always learning from my preparation and experience, but I now have more of a spiritual takeaway with each climb. After my Everest situation I now feel closer to God when I’m above the cloud layer and 100’s of miles from civilization. I’m able to remove the clutter from daily life and reflect on what I’ve achieved and how much more I want to do during this temporary life. I’m wired to explore and make lasting memories that most won’t understand, but that’s me. If climbing isn’t your thing, then figure out what is and take it to the extreme. You only have one shot at it, so you might as well go all in!
Some upcoming events –
Last week JoAnna and I flew to New York, where I was on Anderson Cooper to discuss the release of Blind Descent. We flew in a few days to enjoy the city. We stayed in the Soho district and went shopping, which JoAnna is very talented at. We ate at some nice restaurants and made sure to take in the fresh pasta that you can really only find on the east coast. On Sunday we took the subway down to Time Square and attended Hillsong Church. It was very intense with a powerful message from Pastor Carl. We are huge fans of Hillsong and will attend whenever we can as we recently went to Hillsong Melbourne during our Australia trip in Feb. We stopped in a Barnes & Noble and saw Blind Descent on the shelf for the first time. It was a cool moment to realize that I was an actual author!
On Monday we woke up early and went to the Today show where we made a sign for the kids to see as we immersed ourselves in the crowd. We also got standby tickets to Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers. During the band setup JoAnna was able to give Seth a signed copy of Blind Descent, which was pretty cool….hopefully he reads it. On Wed afternoon I was scheduled to be on AC360 so we showed up early for makeup, which I need plenty of. While we were in the ‘green room’ waiting to head down to the studio Dr. Drew walked by. I called him over and we had a nice conversation. JoAnna was beside herself since she grew up listening to him on the radio in SoCal and is now a counselor. We went downstairs and as I was getting my microphone put on Anderson walked up, introduced himself and thanked me for coming on the show. We then sat and had a conversation about my Everest experience with the cameras rolling. It was pretty casual and Anderson was very intrigued with my story since he has interest in Everest and he recently went snow-blind while on the water in Portugal. I spoke of my faith and the miracle that occurred on Everest but none of that made the cut for the portion that aired. Either way it was great to meet Anderson and tell my story to the CNN viewers.