My first fourteener – my first climb to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain – felt impossible to me personally, even though it was a very doable mountain for any semi-experienced climber. But the thing is I wasn’t semi-experienced, and I especially was not experienced in snow climbing, which is when we decided to do this — in the midst of a Colorado winter. And the trade-off there is I don’t know if my friends actually helped me overcome this impossible challenge. Only passively because they — they were experienced climbers. And they were always well ahead of me on this hike, but usually not far enough ahead for me to lose sight of them.
But perhaps it was the knowledge that they were doing it that drove me to push myself further. So while I was like torturing myself for hours on end taking like one step per minute, once I got into that 13,000 foot plus zone, perhaps they led me to believe that it was technically possible to complete this journey, and that’s what I needed.
But yeah. It always makes me think of what my dad has long said. I don’t know what this says about my dad, that this is one of his go-to lines, but he used to tell me that “pain is temporary.” It seems cold and over simplistic, and he didn’t overuse it. It’s not like he would just say it every day: “Man, I’m having a rough day. Pain is temporary.” But that’s what comes to mind when I think about that hike because I can look back now and appreciate it for what it was, and what it helped me build in terms of strength and sacrifice and accomplishing a very difficult goal. But boy, I was not thinking about that line while I was climbing. All I could think about was, “This pain is — this sucks.”