I’ve wanted to climb Mount Everest for 30 years.
After seeing a black and white photograph of Everest in my family’s encyclopedia long ago, big mountains have had a gravitational pull on my life. I became a geologist. I became a climber. By 2015, after 33 years of mountaineering, I was finally ready to climb Mount Everest.
I believe the old, invalid concept of “conquering” a mountain is laughable. All we small humans can hope to conquer in the mountains is our own weakness. Being in the wild alpine world nurtures me to develop more physical strength, mental clarity and spiritual resolve. Through the work, sacrifices and suffering required, the art of climbing teaches me discipline and respect, focus and humility. Just as music, running or yoga might do for you, climbing refines me into a better version of me.
And so, on April 25, 2015, I was climbing Mount Everest. We had just exited a five-hour gauntlet of unstable ice blocks in the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, and were resting at Camp 1 (19,900 feet) when the terrible earthquake struck Nepal:
When things go wrong, or disaster strikes, you may feel fear, doubt or dread. These emotions are natural and necessary. They put you on alert and prepare your mind and body to fight for life. So, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed for feeling them. Let those emotions flash over you quickly like a blast of cold air. But, then bring your sharpened mind to bear on the problem. Use the energy coursing through your veins to power you through whatever needs to be done.
Stay as calm as possible. Take action to improve the situation for you and your team, even if the improvement is tiny in the face of gigantic odds against you. By fighting back, you ignite your inner resilience that will be so critical for the challenges looming ahead.
To find courage, make your will to survive bigger than your fear.
Jim Davidson, Speaking of Adventure
PS: In the weeks ahead, I’ll post a new video on this blog every Thursday morning that I shot on Mount Everest after the earthquake. Stay tuned and stay resilient!