19 Years of Climbing

I sat terrified on the side of the mountain, unable to move in any direction. ANY Direction at all. If I moved sideways, I’d start slipping. If I moved forward, I’d start slipping. We had already put in a couple of hours on the side of Mt. Massive (named accordingly), the 2nd Highest Mountain in CO. I was not about to give up, but I was terrified to move. We had come to the point in our climb where we had to pass through the scree ( a huge patch of sandy soil and gravel that when combined with the steep incline of the mountain side makes it almost impossible to gain any traction.) Next to the scree was a huge ice field, so our options were go through it or go back. Erik had somehow figured out how to run fast enough through the gravel to make some progress and pass me up (kind of a 3 steps forward, 2 steps back thing.) Obviously, having no fear worked in his favor.  As I gave up and began crying, he came back down to me. He sat with me for the longest time until he finally revealed his plan. He would get below me and PUSH me up that mountain. And that is what he did. Both hands on my bum, I ran and he ran behind me, pushing me through that scree. When we got through, I sat and cried some more until I was ready to keep climbing. Hours later, we made it to the summit where we got to celebrate and enjoy the view….For about 10 min. See when you climb mountains, you have to get to the summit by a certain time in order to get back down before the storms roll in. Because lightening. Because being fully exposed on the side of the mountain is being a human lightening rod. Because the descent down a 14,000 ft mountain is precarious enough without adding dodging lightening into the mix. As we began our descent down that mountain side, everyone in our party moved as quickly as we could, but the storm was descending right a long with us. At some point I noticed that Erik was lagging behind (he had gotten altitude sickness at the top and had to sit and rest periodically on the way down.) As I looked up at him, lightening hitting all around him (I kid you not), I yelled at him that I loved him and that I was sorry but our daughter needed at least one non dead parent. And I left him in the dust.

And such has been our 19 years together. When I do not have the courage to continue or even start, he sits calmly with me and then at the perfect time pushes me up the mountain. He is not afraid of anything and I need that. I have always needed that. Because I’m afraid of, well, a lot of stuff. And though sometimes I get so scared I leave him in the dust, he’s o.k. with it.

Because when he is exposed on the side of a mountain threatened with lightening, he just finds a large flat piece of boulder and rides it down like a boogie board (that really happened.)

 

Our First Climb Up Mt. Massive

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Life might be a lot like climbing CO mountains. There are few things I’ve done that are more challenging, but so rewarding. I highly recommend it if you are physically able to do it. It is not always fun. It is not leisure. It’s not just “hiking.” It is hours of willing yourself to put one foot in front of the other when you get tired and can’t breathe (not a lot of oxygen up there.) But, the reward it great. And, if you can persevere, you feel like can get through anything.

 

There is awe inspiring beauty a long the way.

Our climb in 2013 of Mt. Democrat, Mt. Cameron, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt Bross

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But the ascent is deceptive. You always have longer and farther to go than you think.

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Climbing with the ones you love is best.

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Along with friends

 

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You adventure through fields of boulders, scree, snow and ice.

 

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You feel so unbelievable small up there, which really gains you some perspective.

 

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And beautiful views.

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First Mountain of the Day

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You climb at your own pace. You may get passed by 60 year olds, or you may pass up 12 year olds. But, you continue to put one foot in front of the other. And breathe.

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You celebrate the peaks and plateaus.

Second Mountain of the Day

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Even when the peaks are scary and there’s a chance you could fall a great distance.

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Third Mountain of the Day

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And you will look back at the valley’s and say, “look how far I’ve come.” God is good.

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4th Mountain of the Day

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And when long descent is over, you tell yourself, “I can’t do that again.” Or in the case of MY first climb, “I’d rather give birth 10 times than do that again.”

But when you step back and look at the big picture, you see the beauty in the landscape. You see where all of your hard work, perseverance, and willingness to push through landed you. On Mountain tops with views that few have experienced.

 

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I thank God for my Climbing Partner. We have been through a lot in our 19 years. Cross Country Moves, Sickness, Travel, General Hilarity, House floods, Church Building, Loss and Grieving, Music Making, International Adoption, Beautiful Children, and lots and lots of home improvement projects. There is no one I’d rather do life and Mountains with than him.