Living in the Mountains
As I was leaving the small coastal town of Pichilemu, Chile this September, an expression painted on the wall caught my eye. It still runs through my head often.
"Vamos lentos porque vamos lejos."
We go slowly because we will go far.
There are some folks that think the way I live my life and approach the mountains is about as exciting as watching paint dry. I hold no records, haven't won any major competitions and have very few stories of narrowly escaping death. Heck, I usually have enough food and water and know where I am and how long it will take to get where I am going. In that regard, I am dreadfully boring. I am okay with that.
I got my first job in the ski industry (teaching skiing) in December 1993 – 21-years ago. In 2004 I started going to Chile for the summer. For the first few years, I skied every month of the year – for a total of about 275-days a year. This coming winter will my 23rd consecutive season between the hemispheres. I still love to ski; but I never feel like any given day is my last opportunity to do something. There will be many more ski days in my future.
I will turn 40 this winter. My personal ski goal basically equates to being slower and steadier. Specifically, my goal is to ski 125-days between the two seasons (northern and southern) and get somewhere around half-a-million vertical feet out of it. Being that this is a far cry from a record, it won't get much attention. Again, that's cool. My intention is to set a pace I can hold for many more years to come.
I have already broken my back and more bones than I can remember exactly. I have ripped up joints. I was caught in a huge avalanche at the age of twenty-five. I have been scared shitless in the mountains. I have cried when friends were taken too early. I feel lucky to have gotten through all that without suffering bigger consequences. There are many people who say we need to live life to the fullest. I agree. I don't want to miss a day of my life. And I hope to live a long time. There is still much more to experience, learn and feel.
So what will I share with you this winter? Will you see any ridiculously steep descents or days of ultra-massive vertical feet climbed and skied? Nope. I will share my experience and the beauty it brings into my life. You might even find yourself saying, "I could do that!" Good. I agree, you can. You should! If something I do inspires you, great. If you want to know how to do it, I will be happy to help you.
If you think slow and steady is torture the equivalent of a slow Internet connection, that's okay. I understand. However, let me express my opinion; there's no honor in dying in the mountains. Anyone can die in the mountains. It's a dangerous environment; dying is easy. On the other hand, living in the mountains is incredibly honorable. To live in tune with nature and its rules requires patience and humility. This is much more honorable than trying to beat the forces of nature.
Yeah, I am slow as shit. I've got a long way to go.