"Summiting goals, where to begin. What kind of goal(s) are we talking about? Personal wellness goals? Personal mental goals? Business/professional goals?
The genre is as broad as the potential audience and it leaves me thinking in cursory definitions right off the bat. On quick, second thought, I’ve recently had a personal victory …so let’s go that route instead!
I recently summited Mount Rainier (7/7/2022-7/11/2022) for my first time. All 9000+ vertical feet of her majesty from paradise to Rainier summit. It was overwhelming. It was immense. It was beautiful. The vastness of it all and our (the collective group’s) minuteness in the presence of such a gigantic challenge and continuously changing weather landscape had me feeling very small but also brave and ‘chest out’ to the challenge.
That mental game didn’t serve me well.
It wasn’t as physically challenging as I expected …but significantly more mentally challenging than I had anticipated.
The first two days I was feeling strong. Day 1 from paradise to Camp Muir was, as to be expected, just a long walk, uphill, in the snow (elevation 5400’-10000’). Day 2: camp Muir to Ingraham Flats. A round of basic glacier training provided much needed insights into how to handle the terrain ahead (elevation 10000’-11100’).
Day 3 …day 3 provided some challenges, lol. We slept from around 7:30pm-1am, and awoke after a relatively restless night in 40+ mph sustained winds.
We were asked by our friend and seasoned summiter: “do you want to go for it? The winds at the top are in excess of hurricane force? I’ve been to one tiger tent and they’re in!” Emboldened by our friends’ perseverance we agreed to attempt a summit.
I was tasked with boiling water for the groups trip. I grabbed my shovel and dug a pit to unadulterated snow to boil. Either the wind, or my negligence led to the pot tipping over mid-boil. I went to grab it from falling (and lighting the tent in fire) and in doing so sloshed the water upwards. Upwards …and directly across my awaiting face and eye.
After assessing my winds weren’t “critical” I let our leader know of my unfortunate circumstances. He responded quickly with: “You face can hurt in the tent, or it can hurt on the side of the mountain; if it’s not critical I’ll leave it up to you”.
…after a long 8 hours, roped-together, a grueling slog, (11100’-14411’) crossing crevasses, glacier fields, the crater, and numerous mental hurdles we made it. My mantra/mental hurdle of “just keep going, you’ll get there eventually, just keep moving, everyone on the line is moving, you have to keep moving”
We summited in 70+mph winds on a beautiful, clear day.
We then began the descent. After spending 75%+ of your energy to Summit Rainier the idea that it’s actually ‘harder’ to climb down, then it is to climb up, is a bit of a mind-trip.
Flash forward; we made it down. The view was less and less awesome the entire way, .
I’d been preparing for so long mentally and physically leading up to this adventure I forgot to think about how I might feel afterwards. Once it was completed, I felt myself almost immediately feeling like I had experienced a loss. It took me the better part of the week after to process, but here’s what I think I’ve got worked out…
Goals are benchmarks. They’re not the end, they’re a beginning.
I had worked myself up on achieving this specific goal and I forgot to “zoom out”. The goal was to summit rainier [tunnel vision]. The lesson was to learn to be able to summit Rainier [bigger picture]. When I summited, I was ecstatic, jubilant even! By the time I finished the descent, I was already feeling the finality of it all.
What’s next? And who am I trying to prove something to??
It’s me. That’s who I’m trying to prove myself to. Duh.
It was time to reset my mindset. I should not be disappointed, the goal was just for me. And I did it! I took all the necessary steps (pun intended) to prepare, to train, to learn and practice. I need to enjoy the momentary bliss while the elation lasts. It is then important to try and remember the journey that brought you to this moment. That is what comprises your accomplishment.
Goals are hard to discuss because they’re fleeting. Like happiness, success, contentedness, sadness, loss, etc., etc..
Goals are set to be achieved. Regardless of how long it takes, and disregarding how many changes to the original timeline are needed. They’re mental markers for moving forward and benchmarking your personal successes.
I learned [for next time ] to bask in the multiple moments of real consciousness and doubt that led to the success/achievement. To remember the hardships, the exhaustion, the mental fortitude it took to prevail. All those tiny moments of perseverance that make the foundation on which the proverbial ‘cherry’ is perched atop. The journey’s conclusion is the reward. An unexpected destination that marks a new beginning, not an endpoint.
“The pursuit of knowledge is never-ending. The day you stop seeking knowledge is the day you stop growing.” -BTC
Upon my return, a friend of mine asked me to send a haiku of my trip. I had to look up the cadence because I’m out of practice but here was my reply:
“It was quite a hike
I will not repeat it soon
It was exhausting”
In my tiredness, I thought it was clever.
To you and yours: I wish all the successes you desire. Be them small, large or just right. They’re for you and not for anyone else."
I AM SO PROUD OF YOU ANDREW!!!! When you told me you wanted to climb Mount Rainier, I was beyond excited for you! And to learn that you accomplished your goal, just proves that you can do anything you put your mind to! Way to go!!