Climbing mountains is my journey through life, a pilgrimage and a quest for my own true self. Reasons I chose this path of exploration are many and diverse; breathtaking views, infinite possibilities, solitude and redefining my own boundaries are primary among them. And the fact that they are there only helped. People say that I do things that very few in the world do and when they ask me why, I reply ‘why not?’ Though in my opinion what I do is not so uncommon; you and I, we all climb our own mountains of body and mind and of soul and your journeys are no less exciting or unpredictable than mine and at the end we all do wish to reach the top and then get down safe and happy back from where we began. And perhaps in this regard our climbs begin to differ.
Many of you may not wish to get down from the top and return from where you began your climb. For me that would be suicidal, I must go back down since I cannot linger for long when I reach my summit; the location and the harshness of the topography does not breed or sustain human life or any life for that matter. And in this summit too you and I might differ. My summit has always been that point in time and space from where I decided to return and turn around, that place where instead of my toes, I now put my weight on my heels (for most parts) and with much gratitude and humility bid goodbye to my friends.
Curiosity has been my greatest motivation and challenge, as well as the prime mover and the fuel for my imagination and life. Ignorance and rarity of an entity be it mountains, a nation, far flung corners of our planet have all acted as the glue that held and still holds my life together. And in pursuit of that ignorance, driven by my curiosity I have striven for things that no one strived for or very few are willing. In doing so I did not necessarily become Captain Spock of Star Ship Enterprise, leading his men to boldly go where no man has ever gone before, but I did go to many places where no one or very few had ever gone before or after.
It is said that a journey is incomplete and meaningless if you don’t have a destination to begin from and end at. My destinations have always been pauses, links in the vast chain that keeps growing each day as I travel through life, destination being only a point from where to begin my next link and most such links have been the mountains scattered around our world. They are there and so am I and as you would learn, upon many of them my ‘summit’ and the true geographical summit did not coincide and even then they were incredible journeys of self-discovery.
Elevation is not everything though I love to remain high and drunk into thin air. Often asked to pick my best climbs, I am befuddled since I have climbed hundreds, each daunting and perilous and exciting but I must admit there are special ones not necessarily for reasons others can grasp, that had some personal story, some longing and some sort of appeal to my own sense of mountains and how I relate to this vertical world.
Climbing per se isn't difficult since climbing is a natural human activity and we all have more than one Everest in our lives to climb. Among all sorts of climbs, the reason why I love climbing mountains is that out there I can choose my own path, make my own obstacles and hence enjoy a self created experience that is not only unique and new but also that would never be repeated again. And in that way, swinging from one experience to another, life remains an exciting and never ending adventure.
There’s something about a vertical gradient and certain headiness to the way your body leans out as you look down at the world and once you overcome your vertigo you do realize that the view from the top is always the best.
So here’s happy climbing my friends and as always, I will see you on top!