Friday, August 17, 2012

Observations from a Mountain Climbing Expedition

There is a classic scene from an old Clint Eastwood movie, The Eiger Sanction (cir 1975) where George Kennedy is looking up at the Eiger with a telescope and a woman walks by and ask, "Why do they climb mountains . . . because they are there?"  To which Kennedy replies, "Lady, go &$&% yourself!"

I use to call that movie one of my favorites. I had only seen it once, when I was about 19.  So one day I got it off Netflix to show my sons. It was terrible. It was so corny plus, as the above line implies, quite sexist which was typical of the 70s era Eastwood.

Tuesday I climbed a mountain . . . a real mountain.  This was real mountaineering. It was very, very hard, and by far the most dangerous thing I've ever done. We had to cross about 20 50-200 foot deep crevasses to reach the summit.

The reason I did it was two-fold. First of all, I actually do love mountains and the sport of mountain climbing. But I love the sport in the same way a heavy, out-of-shape, middle aged man loves football. For me to actually climb mountains was a hard concept. I did climb Mount Saint Helens once. It was hard . . . and scary.

I do have a general anxiety disorder.  Acrophobia is one of my main fears.  I decided to do this most of all to face my fears. I decided to do it with a pretend boldness.  I have a sense that no one on the team knows of my fears because, while I usually crave deep honestly, in this case thought it would be best if I completely hid it. I so reasoned, imagine I was a brave man who didn't fear doing this. Then pretend I was this man.

One great help was the confidence the leaders instilled in me during our day of training.  I was roped to an experienced climber and he helped me feel safe. Behind me were my wife and my son, for whom I was taking full responsibility.

It was beautiful. I did it with minimal anxiety. It was glorious. I'm move anxious now as I reflect back on walking across 2-foot wide snow bridges (full of holes where previous peoples' feet had gone through) above 200 foot, certain death, crevasses.  I am thankful for God's strength. In a true monistic style, I will add that Ativan helped a bit as well. The Ativan at least helped me sleep.

Here is our slide show.

I want to come back and talk about my other observations as this was a Christian-group sponsored trip.


doug said...

beautiful pictures, makes me want to experience that part of God's creation. Awesome.

Brendan said...

Great pictures. I've always wondered, can you see Eastern WA from atop Baker?