Packing and getting out the door to an expedition is always a stressful, rich and full time. Hundreds of decisions and poignant good-byes fill the space between putting gear into piles and then into duffel bags. The to do list expands and contracts like the bellows of an accordion playing a raucous polka. This process this time was magnified exponentially for me by the earthquake and its aftereffects in Nepal.
My heart leapt into my throat the moment I first heard the news and imagined all of my Nepali friends and climbing colleagues dealing with the devastation in Kathmandu, mountain villages, and on climbing expeditions across Nepal. I spent the first 48 hours glued to my computer, when I wasn’t packing for Mount Logan, checking the news, twitter feeds, Facebook safety check-ins, and the like hoping to see that friends (and all others) were reporting in safe. Folks who were looking for loved ones who were trekking in Nepal started asking for help and information and I offered what I could. All of the folks I know personally in Nepal have been reported safe.
Monday, Marian and I drove to Bonavista for me to present at Discovery Collegiate School. It was good to have a mini-road trip together (before being apart for a month) and a little down time. Doing my usual presentation about the importance of having big dreams and big goals was very tough to do-each picture in the presentation of Nepal made me want to weep for the level of suffering I know was going on there. I kept breathing and tried to show my love of the country and its people and its mountains to all the assembled students.
On the drive home, my phone began to ring with media requests and Tuesday, I did several interviews about what I knew about Nepal and how things might be unfolding in the relief effort, reaching stranded trekkers, and the impact I feared on remote villages.
Wednesday, I visited Holy Cross Elementary to collect more dreams for Mission 5959 and I’m so grateful that I got to spend time with the students and teachers there. Telling stories of exploration and travels in Nepal was uplifting to me as were the student’s questions. In reading through their dreams, I saw kindness, compassion, and hopes for making a difference in the world along with many dreams of playing in the NHL, becoming YouTubers, and wanting to work with animals.
I’m honoured to carry their dreams as well as the others that have been entrusted to me. I’ve been struck how much easier it is for children to share their dreams than adults. I have some ideas why, but I’ll leave that for another time. I know that the personal dream I will focus on while climbing Mount Logan will be for the restoration/rebuilding/reduction of suffering for Nepal and its people.
When I came into the office this morning, the message light on my phone was lit up. Jack, a student from Holy Cross, had sorted out how to call and leave me a message wishing me well. My heart left my throat for the first time in a week and dared soar again. He ended his call by saying, “TA–you rock.”
Thanks Jack for reaching out and encouraging me…as I’ve always said, “I want my climbs to be more than mountains, more than me standing on any particular piece of topography” and I’ve experienced this throughout this decade of high altitude exploration and challenge, that as I hoped to reach out and inspire the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador, they’ve reached back and inspired me.
At Holy Cross, they are recognizing when students perform kind acts with minions placed on a board in the front hall of the school ( I love minions). Jack, I can’t get out to post a minion on the board for you, so please consider this my posting of a minion for you. Thanks for making my day!