“How did it go?”. This was the question I got asked over and over again, and I can’t blame my co-workers and family and friends.
“My training session was ok.” That is my short answer.
However, I learned quite a bit. I learned for example that I can totally sleep in a tent, on a snowy and icy surface and on a regular dirt ground surface. I can share a tent with two other women. I am
aware that this would not stand out as the most important learning experience to the average person, however for someone as myself whom had never camped before, it was a great discovery to realize I can do this.
I also learned that even though I have enjoyed in the past other “women only camps” and learning environments, I did not enjoy this one as much.
Perhaps in the past I was only there to have fun, with other members of my gender, such as surfing in Costa Rica and Mexico.
Or perhaps I felt an unfairness of having someone’s backpack lighten, to make their climb easier, when I was carrying more than half of my own body weight.
Perhaps I was too anxious to learn and at the same time not hurt my recently broken ribs.
Whatever the reason, I was disappointed by my lack of enthusiasm … the lack of excitement I expected to feel training with a large group of women … where was the ‘women power’ that I expected to feel?
I have been a runner for many years -I find it clears my head and gives me the runners hight for the rest of my day. When I run, I ran alone. The months I spent training I have trained alone. Having to accommodate the pace of getting ready to go, when others were incredibly slow and continue our journey and climb, at various different paces, was tiring and un-motivating for me.
I also felt a lack of trust with my fellow participants. I have always been a self-reliant person and trust with me needs to be earned. To be roped, connected, with complete strangers caused me some anxiety.
On a more positive note, I did learn that my boots were great and appropriate. My feet were always warm and I have no blisters, which I cannot say the same for some of my fellow group members. I learned that I can be warm and keep warm and valued the lectures of our trained guides. I learned to walk with crampons and to tighten them on properly.
I learned to use my ice axe!
I learned that what had occupied much of my previous anxiety at home, going to the bathroom – is actually a walk in the park. (A) if you need to pee, simply pull your pants down and (B), if number two is required, then you follow whatever protocols of the mountain you are climbing.
So, despite feeling and finding many shortcomings during this seminar, I was able to marvel at the beauty of one of many Gods creations – Mountains! Wow—the majesty!
And, another treasured memory, was listening to the silence and admiring the unobstructed views that extended for miles. Absolutely amazing.
The biggest lesson I learned was to make sure that those with you during a difficult task have the same drive, perform the preparation to get it accomplished, and have a “do not fail” mindset. Mountain climbing is very dependent on not just yourself and equipment, but the guides and other climbers being capable both physically and mentally, irrelavent of gender.
In October I begin the first climb of the “7 World Summits” for Peaks for Change, where all donations will go to CAMH for Mental Health. I will be in Papua New Guinea for 25 days climbing the Carstensz Pyramid. The trip will be with 2 like minded climbers, and our guides.