Tocllaraju sits in the Ishinca valley and it’s West Face is the first major feature you see entering base camp. Standing tall, proud, clean and utterly beautiful it begs to be climbed. Hence, the decision to turn around at the bottom of the face was devastating for me. The full reasoning for my decision however, would not become clear to me until I had almost descended the valley.
Confidence doesn’t come naturally for most of us. Often it is our anxiety that holds us back. By understanding the mechanisms behind how these emotions develop we can help tip the odds in favour of building confidence. The story of my friend and climbing partner Andrew Banks is a great example of this.
They say the journey is more important than the destination. If this is true, then walking the path towards something that is truly inspiring for you must be the ultimate journey. Whether its pursuing your dream drop, starting a passion project, building your dream home or indeed, climbing a beautiful mountain; it will be these journeys which weave the great tapestry of life.
For a week, Andrew, Ryan, Morag and myself headed into the Santa Cruz valley of the Cordillera Blanca with the intention of climbing Quitarraju and Alpamayo over 7 days. In this blog I play with the idea of a video diary to give an insight into the week. Please let me know if you would like to see more of these videos and what aspects you are most interested in.
The concept was simple. A climbing relay where teams of between two and six people climb for twelve hours in an effort to cover as many vertical meters as possible. Though the event was successful in raising $3200 for charity, it was the energy and passion that every individual contributed to the event that I am most proud of.
For almost 15 hours I climbed 48 pitches at Kangaroo Point to cover 800m of vertical ground. This challenge was about turning a simple single pitch urban crag into a more adventurous environment. Through the addition of elements such as fatigue, strategy and climbing at night it was going to be as much a test of mental capacity as physical. A more accurate reflection of what it is like to climb in the mountains.
Death and the mountains are inextricably linked. As climbers we expose ourselves to fear, anxiety and sometimes the very real possibility of death more so than the average Joe. I am resolute in my belief on the benefits of doing that, however I don’t think this makes us immune to mental illness. It is not a cure and we cannot fall asleep at the wheel. Hayden’s death is evidence of that.