Every spring since 2005, I’ve scrutinized all of the major climbing outfitters websites looking at their Mount Vinson offerings. And every spring, summer, and fall since then as well, I’ve decided that Mount Vinson’s mountain of a price tag was too big for me to take on. Until this spring…
A few weeks back, I had a timely breakfast with my friend, Marie Wall. Over the breakfast special at Zachary’s, we talked about our lives and the challenges we wanted to take on. She listened to me wax on for a bit about how I wanted to climb Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica and how I couldn’t imagine raising funds for a mountain that very few folks, outside of seven summits fans, had heard of when she suddenly stopped me and said, “TA, it’s time. You’ve been talking about this one for six years. You do know how to make this happen so stop talking about it and do it.”
Her message rang instantly true in my heart and I silently committed to the plan. Over the next while, I ran the gamut of emotions from elation to sheer panic and back again. But the quiet confidence remained and I spoke publicly a few weeks back of my list of things I wanted to do before going back for Everest 3.0. On that list was Mount Vinson!
Yesterday I took the plunge. Standing on the edge of my metaphoric diving board, as I’ve done a few times before, I jumped, not knowing if there was water to land in. I CALLED and signed up for a Mount Vinson climb next December (using the telephone to sign up was miracle number one, signing up to pay a climbing fee that would buy a rather lovely automobile was the next.) I know for me that once I register and pay the deposit for a climb, my commitment doesn’t waiver. And it won’t. Since signing up, I’ve been filled with that same continuum of emotion but the elation seems to be winning over the panic for now.
My thought process today while climbing Signal Hill eight times went something like this, “I’m going to Antarctica. WOW. I’m GOING to Antarctica! Holy F*&K I’M GOING TO ANTARCTICA!!! My seventh continent. My sixth of seven peaks. A place I have dreamed of…I’m going to the BIG A! Cue the wave of disbelief/wave of excitement to pass through my being once again.
And so it goes, I’m on Mount Vinson now and will be until just before Christmas when I return. I’ll be imaging the blanket of white snow and ice enveloping my senses. I’ll picture the tops of some of the remotest mountains on earth poking through the clouds. Twenty-four hour daylight and cold, almost frozen toes. Air that seems to singe every breath with frost and vastness I can scarcely fathom. The continent of white will inhabit my mind until I inhabit its icy space and follow in the boot prints of my heroes and mentors.
One of the quotes I used to use often in presentations is by T.E. Lawrence (slightly altered), “All dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” Our dreams require action to come to life–a balance between keeping our eyes on the view of our dreams and the actions that take us towards them. I took a big step yesterday towards fulfilled a long held dream. For every thing, there is a season. This is now the year of polar adventures and climbs above and below 60 degrees of latitude.
When climbing and visiting in Iceland in three weeks, I will set a new personal record of 65 degrees North, Vinson will take me way South, and I’m planning for Greenland to take me way North again after that. There will be lots of polar cold travel in my upcoming year and I hope you will come along and support me every step of the way.
Marian and I had a great training week for Iceland this morning. We got ourselves out of bed early enough on three mornings to hike or snowshoe uphill before work and we topped off the week with eight Signal Hills this weekend. All in all, I think we gained about 2000 meters over the week (which is what we will need to do on summit day on iceland’s Highest Peak-which I am still learning to say and spell). I can tell my legs are getting stronger each day and I’m liking that a bunch! Hockey play offs have started and the semester at MUN is almost through…as the T-shirt says, “Life is Good.” I hope you are well as well. Take good care.