LESSONS FROM THE MOUNTAINS
It’s noon and I’m standing at 12,999 feet…which means my head is above 13,000 ft. I’ve just rock climbed to the top of a huge granite spire called Temple Crag in the Palisade Basin of the Sierra Nevada. I’m feeling really good. My partner and I had awakened at 3:30 am to start today’s adventure. We blasted the 6+ mile approach in 2 hours, 15 minutes.
We climbed the granite spire as quickly as our lungs could tolerate covering about 1,500 ft of rock climbing in 2 hours. I would call it vertical hiking. At this moment, I feel unstoppable.
It’s now 4 o’clock and we have only just made it to the top of Mt Gayley. In the 1 mile distance that spans between Temple Crag and Mt. Gayley, I have re-evaluated my whole life. What am I doing? Why am I here? Why did I ever think I was strong enough to do this? How can I be an expert when I can’t even keep myself going?
Somewhere along that horizontal spine of twisted rocks and stacked towers I had been broken. Feeling low I collapsed onto a rock for rest.
I can always go down– I thought.
This is no place to be broken– I tell myself.
Silence. What does my gut tell me? I tap into my instinct.
You are fine– it tells me. You were made for this, but you will be sore tomorrow.
I laugh and smile in misery at my partner. I know that I am whole again. He offers me the bacon we were supposed to save for dinner. I gratefully accept.
One more peak to go– I say.
Two hours later we are on top of Mt Sill, one of California’s 14ners. The view is epic, and a bit cold. The journey back to the base of the climb was even colder. The snow nearly swallowed me whole. My legs and arms soaked through and then froze. As twilight approached the snow which moments before couldn’t bear our weight began to turn to ice. We skittered down the final snowbank- too lazy to add the extra spikes to our feet for traction.
Elated, we are united with our stash of extra gear. In less than a day I was broken and remade stronger. My inner reserve of strength had grown – not dwindled. I drifted to sleep under the beautiful stars dreaming of climbing and eating-two of my passions!
Mt. Sill and the rest of the Palisades
Listening to my gut taught me 2 things:
I’m always stronger than I imagine, and
Having the right nutrition is key to reaching your goals. You can never have too much bacon, nut butter or pressed fruit when you do 3500 ft or rock climbing.
Temple Gayley Sill is a 5.7 grade V climb-which means the climb itself (not the 7 mile approach) often requires an overnight. In June 2019 We did the climb in 9 hours base to base!!! Learn about nutrition for this adventure HERE.