A Life Lesson Learnt... From the Mountains

May 04, 2016

A Life Lesson Learnt... From the Mountains

Sometimes I think it is such a shame I haven't learned from some of the experiences life has thrown at me. I often tell my children “make mistakes, and learn from them” but then I remember some of the mistakes I continue to repeat and wonder, how long does it take before you make a change? Maybe I should alter the advice I offer my children by saying “make the same mistakes again and again, eventually, you will learn from them.”

I remember the situation clearly. Base camp of a high peak in Ladakh, India. It was the night before we were due to attempt the summit, and the situation was falling apart fast. We had climbed too quickly, and many of us were feeling the effects of a fast ascent. From our team of climbers, only two were in a position to push for the summit. After all the training, the travel time from various corners of the globe and the expedition expense, it came down to a few days rushed on the mountain. Flights had been booked, we were all expected back at work, there was no time to sit out bad weather, there was no time to acclimatise, there was no time to fully immerse ourselves in the expedition. I had botched an amazing adventure by trying to rush the whole process. Guess what? The mountain won. You just can't rush these things, ever. In all honesty, still to this day, I am just so grateful we all came off that high peak without injury.

Interestingly it turned into one of my greatest life lessons, and I often give trekking advice along the lines of “take your time, slow it down, add extra days for contingency”. I strongly argue the point on a mountain like Kilimanjaro for example; why travel all the way to Tanzania and invest all that preparation time and expense, to climb a peak of 5,895m in five days. Take seven or eight, slow it down and enjoy the experience. There will be fewer chances of suffering from altitude sickness, and a greater chance of enjoying the experience. More importantly, it will allow time for the experience to actually impact you.

There, I learned my lesson in the context of mountain climbing, but why can't I use that lesson in my everyday life? Why do I continue to rush things? Maybe it is because we live in a society where doing more is applauded. Where doing less is deemed lazy, but surely doing less, is better.

I certainly haven't mastered the art of less, I am simply recognising that my experiences in the mountains have provided me with many life lessons. And when I actually allow myself to think about those lessons they always come back to the importance of slowing down and appreciating the small things. To simplifying situations. That by doing less we may, in fact, be having a far greater and more positive impact.

So, maybe the time has finally arrived to learn from my own mistakes and to start doing less. That by slowing the whole life train down, I may infact see, experience and enjoy more of the ride.

by Chloe Chick, ATC Mountaineering Expert and Founder of SisuGirls




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