Peak climbing and alpinism are brutal. There is no way around it. It is strenuous, stressful, and dangerous. The occasional "Instagram-ready" moments aren't worth it. For those seeking the glory or "enlightenment" of accessing high and wild places, the stress and hazard will outweigh the rewards. In short, mountaineering fucking sucks. You will vomit. You will be scared. You will cry. You will stumble and bang. You will get hurt, bruised, and sore. You will dedicate immense periods of time to this ridiculous endeavor. You will hate huge parts of the experience. You will waffle and stress and beat yourself up. You may fail. You may die. Your friends may die. People will die.
Who likes this shit? What is wrong with the degenerate crew that seeks stupid, giant, technical, dangerous mountains? What is wrong with you that you think you might be into such a deviant pursuit? What is wrong with me? Whatever it is that draws and holds alpinists to their obsessive pursuit isn't pretty or healthy. But it is damn human. Whether we admit it or not, we are wired to work hard, face risk, and suffer. Some portion of the population is better at managing these darker desires, and those avoid alpine climbing. Others can't quite scratch that itch without getting real in the hills. For those, there's a community and landscape in the world's mountainous regions for you. You are not alone.
|Screw the scenery. Most of many days is spent in the dark, inside your own head. Grant Teton. 4/2016.|
|Or in a tent. With dirty socks. And surly companions. And your own claustrophobic self-loathing. Mount Saint Elias. 6/2016.|
Much is made of the sunnier, brighter side of mountain pursuits. That is not "my bag" today and here. For a variety of reasons, I'm dwelling on the darkness. The ugly side. If there is yin and yang to everything, mountaineering is often represented by only the pretty stuff. And it isn't pretty. There's the blisters and the failure and the deceased. That all sucks. There's also the ugly truth between one's ears. Boil it down, I dare you. Dig deep into your motivations. You'll have to admit, however reluctantly, that you get off on the hazard and the grit. And then, come up out of that pit you dug. What's left now? Confusion, probably even some shame. Ugliness on top of ugliness. Why the fuck are you ashamed of seeking risk? We're wired that way. Poets, artists, musicians are lauded for their expression of the deep and dark. Alpinists are there, playing and expressing in that dark pit, with front point photos and summit successes to distract themselves and everyone else.
|Sometimes you get to get out of said tent. To dig the wind-blown snow off. Chugach. 5/2016.|
|Before you even get on the mountain, you have to walk in dreary weather being pressed down by a giant parasite. Wrangells. 6/2016.|
|You are trying to climb a giant route on a giant mountain. You take a rock to the shin. You want to just "Harden the Fuck Up". But that gash to the bone demands attention. Mount Moran. 7/2016|
|Does this guy look "stoked"? No. Fuck you. Grand Teton. 7/2016|