Enter Collier county, Florida. A classic tale of two towns. On the one hand you have Naples, the nation’s second-wealthiest metropolitan area. On the other, Immokalee, dubbed by Barry Estabrook (...
Summit For Someone :: Why I climb
Summit For Someone :: Why I climb
"Take us back to sea level!" scream the traitorous, cowardly, jello stick legs that now flap jack in scattered rhythm, attached by pure happenstance it seems to the equally traitorous lungs that, had they not long ago ceased to contain any oxygen, would surely have spilled the most embarrassing of betrayals. The granite tufts and red dirt of a steep mountain path leave little doubt that, despite the inner voice which assures me repeatedly that I have arrived at the gates of hell, I am in fact in Boulder, Colorado.
Normally, I love Boulder. But normally, when I am in Boulder, I am at the Sundowner Saloon. This time is different. I'm here to train for my Summit for Someone climb. The hours spent surfing and bouldering in South Africa and New York over the last couple of months (that I then logged as "training") now seem laughable. As do my attempts at hill training - in which I hiked repeatedly over the Williamsburg bridge with a backpack full of water bottles, books, and an assortment of other useless heavy crap. To think I inhaled half a cities worth of exhaust, got yelled at by agro cyclists, heckled by pedestrians, and nearly became a taxi speedbump, only to have arrived at this crescendo of dissapointment.
I am walking now. Moments later I am standing. Or rather, I have assumed the classic winded bastard pose, bent at the waist, hands on knees, head lolling pathetically from side to side, unsure of weather a quick vomit is worth the momentary disruption it will cause in my labored gulping of thin air. In a brief and fleeting moment of courage I make a dogged plunge for the bulging summit of the entirely innocuous Rocky Mountain foothill on which I have arrived. Fleeting it is, as, arriving at said summit, I find it to be a false summit - merely a steep bulge concealing the real summit beyond. This scenario repeats itself at least 3 more times, until, at last, I find myself unceremoniously perched atop the real "summit". And yet, sitting here, the frantic voices of weakness and doubt fading to a disgruntled chatter in the pastels of dusk, I realize that I have been given a rare glimpse, a reminder as to why it is that I am training for this climb in the first place.
So rarely in life am I, or many of the people reading this I would guess, confronted with the disappointment and utter vacuum of hope that lurks upon the terraces of a false summit. Yes we have all reached false summits in life, moments where we thought we had achieved a coveted goal only to realize we were further from it than we could have imagined. Yet I would venture to say that most of us in those times of trial had a friend, a family member, or a strength of character that is a product of a relatively comfortable upbringing, to remind us of our inner strength and ability to continue striving for the true summit. But for each one of us, there are many more kids out there who have never had that chance. Who are stuck on that false summit, maybe the first one, maybe the third, lacking the confidence or support to climb higher.
A crisp, full bellied moon is shining brightly now, having snuck up over the distant edge of the plain to illuminate the tattered foothills and jutting Flatirons. Sitting on this hill, that just moments ago I had cursed, I am now full of gratitude for my seemingly trivial struggles and the reminder in them of why it is that I am Summiting for Someone. Not for me, not for you, but in the hope that just one kid will walk away from their journey with Big City Mountaineers with a newfound confidence to move beyond the inevitable false summits, and to keep on climbing.
**To learn more and/or donate to support the climb please visit my climber page. Also if you are interested in doing a climb of your own, or mentoring for Big City Mountaineers, please feel free to contact me personally to talk more about the program. Thanks!**