Climbing up Everest

Summiting Everest is a challenge that sits at the back of quite a few of our minds. A challenge that will need a lot of courage, training, willpower, stamina, strength, and a whole lot more. You train for it, for months or years, depending on your current physical and mental levels. You might need to have quite a few practices climbs, over lesser peaks.

So, you do. You train for it. You dedicate the better part of your mind and body and money and energies to this huge endeavour.

Whatever your Everest is.

And you do it! What an achievement.

Only you know the hardships, the number of days when you were sore or didn't want to do it. But you showed up anyway. The days when everyone else was sleeping and comfortable but you woke up while it was pitch-dark outside and did your thing. The days when it was easy. The days when it was impossible. The days when everything else was overwhelming and you questioned your sanity about this stupid meaningless challenge.

I carried my Canon 70-200mm 2.8 all the way to base camp. I barely used it and it was very heavy, I think this is one of the only photos I really like that I took with it.
Photo by Martin Jernberg / Unsplash

But you did it. You fucking beauty!

What next?

First up, Everest is a metaphor. Of course, you can literally be climbing up Everest. Or a moderate hill in the mountains. Or walking 5k. Or touching your toes. Whatever your Everest is - whatever seems impossible but you know is about figuring out the next rep and showing up as many times as it takes to get the job done.

But what next? Once you are at the peak? As Coach Dan John reminds us, the step after a peak is a cliff. Meaning it is a fall and a long way down. If you continue to persist in climbing more and more and more - that's what is going to happen. Your mind or body or spirit will fail without adequate replenishment, celebration, and a breather.

Let's stay on top

But that's what a lot of us think we need to do. We need to climb Everest and stay on top of it. For one, the oxygen is rather low. There's no WiFi. Or showers and loos and all that. So, you cannot live there.

So, come on back down and let's have a party!

Since a few years I work as a photographer for the MS Dockville Festival in Hamburg, Germany. I share here a few photos from that special music festival.
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz / Unsplash

You come back down, you chill. You recognise that you have the ability, the drive, the "whatever it takes" to do such a crazy feat. You have that gear in you. But you don't keep staying at that gear.

You find something else that grows you and challenges you. Whether it is a path that forks off the main one or is tangential to it - as long as you connect with it. But one thing is clear - staying on top AND doing something else makes little sense.

How is this relevant to you?

  • You think getting a 6-pack is the end of the road. Nopes. Some of you might be able to do that and continue. But most of you (us, I should say, so as to include myself as I fall in here) will get there sometimes and not get there most other times. And you will be so annoyed that you might not even notice the view.
  • You cannot stay there. Let's do something else. And it need not mean climbing K2. What about going on a pleasant trek, filled with meadows and trees and flowers? And not just freeze-your-tingly-privates-cold weather and inhumane conditions?!?! Not everything needs to challenge you to your core.
  • You think coz everyone's climbing Everest, that you climbing the large hill or going on that almost-flat trek is useless or pointless. No, buddy! You go do your thing. Everest gets the headlines coz we all like big numbers and bullcrap like that.

The radical middle

Instead, let's think different. Imagine you are piloting a spaceship, Mario/Contra/Prince of Persia like - 2D and scrolling horizontally. There are sharp pointy things at the top of your screen. And sharp pointy things at the bottom of your screen. Your job is to stay away from these and closer to the middle as you make forward progress.

Along the way, shiny objects - jewels and fruits and health kits and what-not - pop up and you have to veer away from the middle to collect them. The bigger the reward, the closer it is to the pointy things.

Most of the time you choose to get things that are a tad easier - still well away from the middle but you know 99% of the time, you can get it and come back to safety. But what's life without a bit of adventure? So, you most definitely go for the precarious ones as well. Sometimes, you swoop in and get out at the right instant. Most times though, you get too close and you crash and burn.

Image Courtesy:

Thankfully, it is a video game. So, you materialise again and you continue.

The harder the challenge, the crazier the diet, the further away the goal (from where you are), the more imbalanced it is going to be. The closer you are gonna get to sharp, pointy things. The higher the probability of crashing and burning.

Instead of wanting ONLY the challenging things every time, mix it up. Build up skills and points and what-not, and go for the crazy things. If you crash, no problem. Start again. Have the patience to repeat the easy stuff and go again. And if you don't crash, beware that too. In fact, beware that more.

Back to the middle. Back to the fundamentals for the most part. And the crazy challenges sprinkled in. Not expecting to stay on Everest after climbing it. But coming back down and moving on to other things.