𝙻𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚘𝚗𝚜 𝙻𝚎𝚊𝚛𝚗𝚎𝚍 𝙵𝚛𝚘𝚖 𝙵𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚐
This past weekend, as you may or may not have seen, I attempted to climb Mt. Washington.
I did not succeed.
I made it three-quarters of the way. Was it a failure then? That’s for you to decide, to me it was a great success and I had a blast.
So here we go….
I am not even sure Devon was fully aware, but my one true fear is of heights. Not just any heights though, heights where I am at the edge and can potentially fall. It's my demon. It took me a good few years to muster up the courage to ride one of the big roller coasters when I was an adolescent.
I knew going in that I was going to struggle with the steep part of our climb.
It was on the second of three steep parts in succession that I started to lose it mentally. Yes, I am not ashamed to admit that. And that fear that was setting in was causing me to burn up in terms of tensing too much, holding on for dear life if you will.
At this one little shelf, I was able to give myself a pep talk and power through.
But once we got to the tree line and realized just how freaking high up you are and that you are literally on a mountain, I knew that I was spent.
In all honesty I could have turned around right then. Action Jackson later told me that he’s never seen a look of fear in my eyes until that moment.
Yes, the terrain leveled out some, meaning you aren’t going up at 80 degrees, but now you factor in the wind gusts and such, it adds another element.
I looked up and saw another steep part, at least it looked that way to me, that we would have to climb through.
Me and my buddy Steve, along with our guide, went about another twenty minutes up and then I told them, ‘Guys, I am shot mentally. I am not sure if I have it in me today to do that next part.’ Thank goodness that both agreed about that moment being a good point to turn around.
Up until that point I was reframing, telling myself that I was on a hill, not a cliff.
Once we turned around, it was all about watching one step at a time and if I did look up, picking a mile marker that was only 50 feet away and saying, ‘Just make it to that rock pile’.
And it was totally doable. But I knew I was still going to have to go down those 3 steep parts, which is what I meant by saying that if I made a push to follow the other guys, I wasn’t sure how I’d be mentally knowing that I still had to go back the way I came.
You know what though, I had a much easier time going down. I knew the path. I was able to predict and respond. On the way up, I had no bearings. I was locked in a battle in my brain and body of freeze mode and flight, but I had no choice but to fight those things.
The way up was filled with negative self talk, thoughts of doom and gloom. Totally unlike me but hey, when you are up against it, you’re up against it.
I don’t consider it a failure, because I know why I lost and I am totally opening to admit it. It was not physical at all, it was 100% mental. Which means I have demons to conquer and more work to be done.
There is a reason I have studied fear and balance so much: because I’ve always struggled with them.
I was proud of myself that I knew when enough was enough and as I like to say, ‘applied the minimum effective dose’ to get the desired results. I pushed my comfort zone out a lot on that Saturday and I will go back next year to finish.
Face your fears, they are there to teach you.
If you always run from them, just remember that you are running back towards safety, which is the ultimate illusion.