Imagine the perfect day. Under bluebird skies, you’re scurrying across a knife-edge ridge. Jagged peaks sprawl out before you as far as the eye can see. The easy terrain allows you and your partner to move quickly. But then, a large block comes loose and you’re falling… if you were given the chance would you take it all back? Would you give up the summit for 60 more years of adventures? Or would one day of perfect climbing make it all worth it?
Accidents are a part of life. They are inevitable, unpredictable, and are never easy to reconcile. The outdoor community has lost a number of incredible people to some terrible accidents over the decades. The stark truth of mortality shines bright in these moments and the age-old question of “is it worth it?” resurfaces.
There’s no doubt that being in the mountains fills our lives with a sense of richness that is hard to find elsewhere. The integration of physical and mental challenges required while climbing teaches us how to be self-critical and mindful. We learn to face our fears, to trust our instincts, and to build confidence as well as respect. Being in the mountains fills us with a sense of empowerment. They teach us about ourselves and in the process, they become a part of us. They become a part of our identity.
The mountains teach us to be the best version of ourselves we can be, but what good is it if we don’t return home to our friends and family? What purpose do these lessons serve if you don’t pass them along to others? What good is it if we don’t have the opportunity to be the better person the mountains have taught us to be?