Mountaineering – Reflecting on 30+ Years of Mountaineering

 

Angela Hawse on one of her first big mountaineering trips contemplates Kedarnath Dome, Garwhal Himalaya, India in 1988

Angela Hawse contemplates one of her first big mountaineering objectives, Kedarnath Dome, Garwhal Himalaya, India. 1988. ©Mike Goff.

A flood of images overtakes me as I reflect back on 30+ years of mountaineering.

The memories begin with pre-dawn starts by headlamp over noisy stoves. Then, I’m crawling out of a cramped tent and roping up under starlit skies. Next, the sound of my crampons biting frozen surfaces comes back to me. After that, the feeling of cold, fresh air fills my lungs. Then, I remember the thrill of navigating by headlamp as I recall the route I previewed the day before. Where are the crevasses? Which section do I need to pick up my pace. What zones can I cruise with a little less attention? Is my partner awake? Would they arrest my unsuspecting fall? How honed are their crevasse-rescue skills anyway?

Images of suffering and discomfort easily slip away as I head to the high mountains again and again. The stunning combination of rock, ice and glaciated terrain compels me to keep coming back for more. I love that mountaineering demands all of my skill sets as well as a resolute will to succeed.

Mountaineering requires the journey mindset, not the destination mindset.

Getting to the top is always the goal, but never a given; the unknown adds to the adventure. It encompasses active problem-solving, decision-making and thinking on my feet in order to weigh risk against consequence.

Mountaineering is the ultimate dance with sunrises, alpenglow, endless horizons and comradery through shared effort. Taking us to the most beautiful places on the planet, mountaineering requires us to dig deeply, disconnect from modern-day life and reconnect with nature, our partners and ourselves.

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