By Mike Marolt
The mountain is so high, so big! I feel small. The fear in my mind is real. It drains me. But it also is a hurdle that needs to be crossed so I eagerly move on. Step by step, breath by breath, the weight on my pack straps digs into my shoulders. I feel the sweat from my effort on my back and neck, and the wind somehow finds it’s way through the layers of my clothing to chill me a bit. I pull my hood over my head and continue. I am tired and weary, yet I know if I stop I will become more chilled. So I invite the cold and embrace it. I dare it to try.
As the rope I am tethered to inches along, I realize it is tied to my best friends also experiencing the same demons as I. I am within my own head, not talking to anyone, just letting my mind wander. I reflect on the years and climbs that have brought me to this place. I enjoy the daydream of climbs and ski runs past that have fueled my passion to be where I am at this moment.
Time moves by and I realize to now I have been imprisoned in the few meters that my headlamp makes available to me. I have failed to look around. Suddenly, the rays of the dawn’s first light blanket the side of my body. I can see where I am. As I move along, the rays become stronger. I am rising up step by step and feel as if I am dragging the rays up with me.
I look ahead and up, and I see the rays of sun blanketing the point I am trying to attain. The shadow on the opposite side looks cold and dark in contrast. The light draws me to move along. I feel energy within me. I am more tired than I have been since I started, yet I feel empowered to move with exuberance. Excitement rushes through my mind and I feel my heart race. I need to calm down! I’ve been here many times before, and I know I have a long way to go.
Finally, I am where I was looking. I am spent, but I encourage myself to keep going; it will be worth it. My head hangs low, and I am moving by a power I didn’t realize I had. Suddenly, I can go no further. There is no more ground to walk. I have overcome my fears, but the experience has made me respect them even more…….