One Foot in Front of the Other

I committed to climbing a mountain earlier this year.

The goal was to summit Mt. Adams, and live to tell the tale.

I was ill- prepared for the journey, both mentally and physically. I made the decision to summit on the fly and I hoped it would spark a renewed desire to explore our beautiful Pacific Northwest.

First order of business was to inform friends and family. I was hoping, the added accountability would spur me into fitness preparation. Three weeks before the climb, I became riddled with anxiety. I hadn’t dedicated myself fully from a fitness standpoint. My climbing group already had two cascade volcano summits under their belt, and my self- doubt was in full-fledge.

I increased my workout intensity and remembered the advice from a coworker- put one foot in front of the other.

Summit day arrived. My vitals equated to 1hr of sleep and no caffeine; not my finest moment for this ultimate capacity challenge. At 4 am, I began my ascent with a single bottle of water, beef jerky, trekking poles and an ice axe. A typical day this was not!

Over the glaciers, creeks, and ridges I traversed to reach the first noteworthy resting point, Lunch Counter. My vitals were decent, and the mood was generally positive, but news from the ranger changed that quickly. Apparently we were stragglers, almost last, to make the dreaded 3hr push up Piker’s Peak, a difficult false summit.

Piker’s Peak separated our group of four climbers, and our personal limits became very real. Gradient and vertigo set in, and it was impossible to rest. I considered quitting several times. I questioned my motivation for going all the way.

Miraculously, I made it up the false summit. I couldn’t breathe through my nose, sunscreen burned my eyes, and I suffered from altitude sickness. The human body definitely wasn’t designed for this type of exposure.

Humbled by my lack of coordination at 12,280 ft, I was unable to enjoy my time at the summit. The breathtaking 360° view of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens, was short- lived. After a few photos, I made my way hastily down the mountain.

The route down entailed glissading multiple snow chutes. Opposed to the grueling 8hr journey up, the trip down was a refreshing 3hr breeze! Survival mode fully activated, the end was in sight, and what a relief it was!

These were the toughest 11hrs of my life to date. My personal limits were pushed beyond compare. I attribute much of my resilience to make it to the top to my ACS family, who provided tremendous encouragement and believed in me.

The hardest things in life can be the most rewarding. As we approach 2018, I’d love to hear about your recent hardships, and how you’ve overcome them. Together we can survive the most inhospitable challenges. If you have adventures or obstacles on the horizon, please share what it is you’re facing!