When I was growing up, surrounded by antique editions of National Geographic, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was obsessed with everything about the space program. I knew names of my heroes by heart like people know their favorite team and I went to Space Camp twice (I like to say I graduated “with honors”) Over time interests change, and I realized that it just wasn’t a feasible career path. What did stick though is an adventurous spirit, the willingness to do something that’s dangerous and unknown, if only to see what I’m capable of. Lately I did something that I haven’t done in over 10 years. I started re-watching the space program films and documentaries that inspired me when I was a child. It was poignant because here were these people who were putting their lives at risk to understand how the universe worked.
Curiosity is a powerful thing.
Today I’m setting out on a new adventure. The one that I’ve dreamed about for a long time. Four peaks and the opportunity for a boy from the flatlands to learn alpinism. We start this weekend on Mt. Hood, Oregon’s highest peak. We’ll be climbing to 8,000 ft. on Saturday up the Cooper Spur, summiting at 11,000+ ft. on Sunday via the north face and then an extra rest day on Monday before heading back down. In the meantime I’m getting the instruction and the training that I wanted, and the skill building that’s going to carry through to the rest of my career.
I’m not comparing myself to my heroes. My project is a molehill but it’s my molehill. We all have a hungry curiosity to explore beyond our borders and to seek unknowns. If we sit still we learn nothing about the world or ourselves. I choose to climb because it’s what makes me most happy in life. It’s challenge, adventure, a little bit of danger, and the opportunity to fulfill lofty ambitions. We should always question everything, whether it be how something works, or how far our bodies are willing to go, and act upon it to explore. That’s what exploration is: we can’t discover new lands anymore but we can define ourselves personally just by being curious. Asking “Am I capable of this?” and then finding the means to set out for the answer.
When I look back on this project, coupled with our Moab trip in April, and our rafting trip in September, I want this to be the year of “I did.” I came to Washington for a peak that I had failed on and I discovered who I was not only as a climber or an adventurer, but as a person. Sport, climbing, traveling, it’s not just a hobby, it’s a way of life. Don’t ever be afraid to think boldly or have ambition. Dream something up, find the channels that will achieve them, and just go for it.
Gear List for Mt. Hood
Pack – Black Diamond Mercury 75
Base Layers – Outdoor Research Echo Tee
Champion C9 Long Sleeved Running Shirt
Mid-Layer – Marmot Variant
Down – CAMP Dual Jacket
Hard Shell – Outdoor Research Panorama
Thermal Layer – First Ascent
Hard Shell Pants – Unknown Brand, GoreTex (borrowed from friend)
Soft-Shell Pants – Eastern Mountain Sports Endo
Gloves – Black Diamond Vision
Black Diamond Punisher
Cap – Kavu Merino Wool Beanie
Sunglasses – Polarized Oakley Jawbone
Oakley Ski Goggles
Socks – Darn Tough Ski Socks X2
Gaiters – Outdoor Research Crocodile
Crampons – Black Diamond
Boots – Koflach Plastic Mountaineering Boots
Headlamp – Petzl Tikka
Ice Axe – Black Diamond Raven
Ice Tools – Petzl Charlet
Harness – Petzl Corax
Belay Device – Black Diamond ATC
Tent – North Face Mountain 25
Sleeping Bag – North Face Aleutian
Sleeping Pad – Thermarest SoLite
Stove – MSR