5 Life And Mountaineering Lessons

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1. Pack light, you don’t want to carry too much weight.

They tell this to you in pre-climb, but nobody tells you this in college. Night before departure, you wonder if it would hurt to add that facial wash, special lotion, maybe an extra shirt and some more canned goods for your climb. When you’re exhausted and moody, trust me, it will. If you doubt you’ll use something, the fact that you have to think about it means its almost unnecessary. You can only need so much in mountaineering and in life. So what if you lose your comfort zone for a day or more. Do not let what you own start owning you. Things accumulated are things you have to take good care of, or else you run the risk of losing them. Learn what’s important. More things, more worries and responsibilities. Less of them, more time and energy for fun and appreciation.

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2. Budget your consumption of resources.

Learn how to allocate and budget your consumption properly. Food and water, have never been so scarce than when in hiking. Like all resources in general, they’re limited, regardless if you’re an oil sheik or a silicon valley billionaire. Finish your 2 litter water mid way and you’ve just formulated the perfect disaster for the second half of your climb, or in real life language, do not spend beyond your means.

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3. Its not a race

Save for marathons and hiking races, casual mountaineering is not a race unless you impose it on yourself. There will always be someone who is impeccably faster, or impossibly slower than your pace. In the end, we all reach the same “summit”. Life and mountaineering is about appreciating moments, flora and fauna. Consider it a race and you just ended up rushing yourself to the “summit” without having experienced the beauty of those accumulated moments we call life.

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4. Going up is hard, but going down is harder

Leaving the jump off point for base camp/summit, filled with excitement, it fuels your drive to make it to the top. With wobbly legs and and self gratifying ego, somehow you’re able to strut to the top, breathlessly basking in some breath-taking view and the majestic color combination of dark blue, purple, pink and orange of sunset or sunrise only a mountain summit can provide. Bad news, nobody stays at the summit forever. At some point, in relative time, all of us comes back down to sea level. Climbing down is harder because your knees take more impact, and your brain needs to decide quickly on which stone is most likely not to move when you step on it. Excitement long gone, fatigue sets in, much like in life, when life goes downhill, your character is tested and eventually revealed.

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5. You will not run out of summits to climb.

There are more summits to climb in par with our human lifetime. If you devote your attention to climbing every summit than appreciating each one, then the battle is lost. Each summit you achieve exposes you to another one that is even more tougher. Although it is in our nature to always go for more, to evolve and to best our previous states, never over look achievements in life and mountaineering. Celebrate every each one, every resting hut and shelter, those are what make reaching the goal more rewarding.

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DSC_0340“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point” – H. Melchert

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