A Poem About Death and Life In The Mountains

This is a poem I was forced to write for one of my English courses, I am not a poet by any means and poetry is not a literary method I enjoy. However I am proud of this poem and I would like to share it with you.

A Place To Live and A Place To Die

You have never caught a football

You struggle to finish an algebra problem.

You questioned your future in the world

Do you have a talent?

Yes,

You found a few giants.

They demand respect

And only accept the best

Cold, dangerous, angry giants

You are not afraid

You have learned to call them home.

The fear makes them solitary

You embrace the fear

You’re doing something

Most people will never do

The cold bites you

Stabs you like a steely knife

Buried in two feet of snow

Small on a beautiful giant

You are not powerful here.

You found something in the giants

You can’t catch a football but

You found a home.

Learning To Live In The Moment

You should always think about the future, however you should avoid worrying about the future. If the future is always at the forefront of your mind when do you think about the present, do you ever take the time to enjoy an experience, or appreciate the world around you? The answer most likely is no. We spend so much time overanalyzing and methodically plotting all of our decisions that we rarely ever enjoy the present. As a society we receive more joy from knowing that we might have some joy in the future, rather than enjoying our current experiences. For those of you who do not know, my favorite climber is Ueli Steck. The Swiss alpinist known for his daring alpine speed climbs in Europe, and in the Himalayas. I was watching a TV program Explorers that profiled Ueli’s famous speed ascents in the Alps. After climbing The Matterhorn he made a comment about living in the moment. Ueli said that when you are in a dangerous situation and all of your focus is on every action you make in the present, you are living in the moment.

Ueli’s comment perfectly sums up the way that I am trying to live my life. I try to do things that block out the stresses of life, my worries for the future, or problems I might be having socially. If you can block out everything that brings you pain, then you can find peace. To put things in perspective picture what I am about to tell you. You are going on a long run through the woods, the weather is nice, the temperature is mild, and you feel great. However you are running on a steep, rocky trail in the woods. In that moment what are you worried about? You are worried about your feet, where they are, how fast they are moving, and where they are going to be. When you are focusing on your run especially a technical run, you do not have time to think about anything else. You are extremely focused because you know that one slip is likely going to result in a twisted ankle. Now granted there is very little danger in this situation, you are very focused. If you are focused on something and that challenge is constantly shifting then you are living in the moment. Now this is a stressful situation but it is good stress. In moments like this you are happy. Not to mention your happiness is coming from something real, something you just did. Your joy is not coming from something that might happen in the future. Moments like this are the key to life.

As some of you may know last week my Grandfather died, he died peacefully but his passing came very quickly, without a great deal of warning. When he died after a very long night at my Grandmothers I woke up at one in the afternoon. I immediately packed a small running pack and hit a trail near my house. Prior to my run I was a ball of depressing stress, yet the run eased my pain. That long run in the woods on an unfamiliar trail distracted me and forced me to live in the present.

So what I am I getting at? I am trying to say that you should live in the moment, worry about your future, make good life choices but you should never harp on the future. Make a plan, decide how you will complete it, and then go out and enjoy the world. After all if you are unhappy in the present will you be happy in the future?

 “When you get to the summit and you push the watch, first you try to breath a little bit and get some oxygen in your lungs. When I saw this time I was like, ‘ah, that’s not possible.’ Yeah… that was a good moment.” 

~ Ueli Steck

Why I Love the Cold

Hi everyone I apologize for not posting anything, I have been dealing with an ongoing family crisis, and college has been a time sponge. So lets look forward to longer articles until then I hope you enjoy this one.

Everyone has a season that they like. Some of us like warm, tropical climates where it is hot in the morning and rains for half an hour in the afternoon. Now look I love being warm and I certainly love being comfortable. The one feeling I absolutely hate is the feeling of being hot.

Me taking a photo in the Florida Keys!

Me taking a photo in the Florida Keys!

As I have always said there is no such thing as cold weather just a poorly dressed person. If you walk out of your house in twenty-degree weather wearing only a hoodie, any extended periods of time exposed to the elements will quickly become unpleasant. On the other hand if you head into the mountains in sub zero temperatures and you are dressed properly you will be smiling.

So why do I like the cold? Simple the cold encourages physical activity and more importantly as I have always said, the cold makes things interesting. I am an adrenaline junkie but not in the traditional sense. I like dangerous environment not dangerous activities. I like the idea that when I am on a mountain face mother nature can decide at any time that I am not welcome within her mountains. If you take the danger out of alpinism you have every other sport. I enjoy the unknown of adventure, the feeling that I am not in control. I do not get the same feeling riding on a motorcycle without a helmet. Cold weather can be dangerous and it keeps you on your toes. Simple mistakes can be catastrophic and every task becomes more complicated. This added stress keeps my mind off the stresses in my life, on how my lungs and legs feel trudging up hill. All of my sense and thoughts are taken by the need to stay warm. Like a small child craving attention from his mother, the cold keeps calling me forcing me to stay on my toes. Cold also thins out the herds of hikers on the trail. People like hiking in warm weather, your pack is lighter, you can sit down without adding a layer, and warm weather makes life easier.

Mount Alander Copake New York August 2014 my pack on the warm summit.

Mount Alander Copake New York August 2014 my pack on the warm summit.

That is not what I am looking for when I step out onto the trail, if I were looking for an easy sport I would not pick climbing. I want a challenge; I want to do something that the rest of society is not wiling to do.

Alpinists want a challenge and warm weather climbing on moderate terrain can be a walk in the park. However if you drop sub zero temperatures into the mix, you have a completely new element. The cold will make you suffer and it will make your life difficult. Cold weather can present one of the greatest challenges to anyone who likes to get out on the trail. So with that I leave you a simple message, embrace the cold, remember the cold will always make a man out of you, or if you are a woman one tough lady.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” ~ Ranulph Fiennes

The Friendliest People You Will Meet On A Hike

Our world has never been more connected than it is today. Yet somehow in this interconnected social world we barely interact with one another outside of the digital world. Now look I am not going to go on some rant about the pitfalls of social media or texting culture, or the way people interact over YouTube. This article is discussing the friendliest people that I have met, that group being hikers and climbers.

intrepidhikers

The group of hikers you see of in the distance a few hundred yards away from the summit of Mount Washington. I had never met before but they welcomed me into their group and we descended the mountain together.

I have been hiking consistently for a few years now and whether I am climbing a mountain in New Hampshire, or walking along a ravine in Northern Connecticut, if I see someone they almost always say hello. Which is a beautiful thing when you are out alone. Sure it might break the solitude of the experience but it does remind me that I am not the only one out hiking. It does however leave a question. Why are hikers and climbers so friendly?

I really do not know! Climbing is a sport and it has a great deal of competition yet the competitors treat each other like friends. I wrestled in High School for three years and sure we may have shook the hand of our opponent but the things we said afterwards were generally far from polite. This trait at least in my experience does not pertain to climbers. For example last year Alex Honnold, and Tommy Caldwell completed the first traverse of Fitz Roy in Patagonia. Alex and Tommy are amazing rock climbers but neither are grizzled alpinists.

Tommy (left) Alex (right)

Tommy (left) Alex (right)


In fact Alex is the first person to have ever won the Piolets d’Or without ever having lead a pitch of ice. Just before they started their epic climb Tommy noticed that Alex had brought the wrong type of crampons. His crampons would only attach to mountaineering boots; he was wearing Gore-Tex tennis shoes. So their already dangerous climb had the added threat of Alex losing his crampons mid climb. However as they climbed they knew that two famous alpine climbers from Patagonia were already attempting the same challenge. One of the climbers Rolo Garibotti a climber who literally wrote the book on Patagonia alpine climbing was feeling sick and they decided to descend mid route. On their descent they met up with Alex and Tommy. Rolo knew that Alex had the wrong crampons and in an amazing show of kindness he gave Alex the crampons he needed to complete the route. Rolo’s party was forced to abort their quest and he decided to give Alex the tools he needed to complete the climb. Which was an amazing show of kindness and benevolence from an amazing climber. How often do you see the New York Yankees handing a baseball bat to the hitter for the Boston Red Sox?

It is acts of kindness like the one demonstrated by Rolo on Fit Roy that truly describe the hiking and climbing community. We are friends within the mountains and we care about one another. I never feel strange asking someone how far away I am from the summit, or how his or her trip went. That confidence does not carry over to my journeys along a Boston Subway.

We are a community and we treat each other well because we know that we are all just trying to have a good time. We are all trying to be amongst friends, away from the world, away from the stress of every day life, and all of its challenges. This is what I have found in my experience at least. Your mileage may vary. So as always remember go out, explore treat your world with respect, and say hello to the people you meet on the trail.

 

The famous Fitz Roy skyline.

The famous Fitz Roy skyline.

“There is something about building up a comradeship – that I still believe is the greatest of all feats – and sharing in the dangers with your company of peers. It’s the intense effort, the giving of everything you’ve got. It’s really a very pleasant sensation.”
– Edmund Hillary