Connecting Mountains

Le montagne – come lo sport, il lavoro e l’arte – dovrebbero servire solo come mezzo per far crescere l’uomo che è in noi. The mountains – such as sports, work and art – should only serve as a mean to grow the man in us.

-Walter Bonatti, Una vita cosi.

In every single one of us, mountain lovers, there is a reason to look for the mountains’ majestic company. Our motivations are rooted deep inside us, and span from the need for a demanding physical training, or a healthier and cleaner air, to the spectacular, nourishing views and peace that help us reconnect with the nature and our inner selves.

Whichever is the reason the mountains are calling you, you know, sooner or later, you will answer this call.

Perhaps many of you felt this connection since an early age, but for the vast majority, this powerful and difficult to explain attraction was kept suppressed and confided like a hot, smoldering magma waiting for an opportunity to break free and erupt. I have to admit I am from the latter category. Let us face it! We are always too busy with our daily life, jobs, families, problems, obligations that we forget even trying stepping out of our comfort zone.

About two years ago, I had a chance to go, for the first time in my life, above 3000 meters. After living my entire life at the sea level, it was an experience completely new, scary and exciting, all at the same time. A good friend of mine told me: “Mountains are spectacular, but the best views you can have are from far away”. Her affirmation, was hunting me for a while. But slowly, my doubts were transforming into an inner force and determination I have never felt before.  So I have gone… At that time, I had no clue this experience will change my life!

In my brief experience, mountains have always found new ways to challenge me, but not without giving something in return, their intrinsic beauty and mystery being an endless source of strength, knowledge, balance and inner peace that I have never experienced anywhere else.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a great climber nor an alpinist, and I will probably never be one. Due to my limited mountaineering experience and physical training, the first thing I had to learn was to envisage my own limits. Even if you are an experienced rock climber, or you have a great physical preparation, surviving and enjoying the alpine environment is so much more than having strong muscles and good endurance and stamina.

Starting with the simple fact that you will have to learn to walk again…descending for the first time on an icy slope, in crampons, proved to me to be more challenging that I could have expected.

If you are new in the alpine world, don’t take anything for granted. Due to the higher altitude and consequently the lower concentration of the oxygen in the air, the changing weather conditions and the treacherousness of the alpine terrain, expect your adventure to be at least twice more demanding and longer than your initial estimation. And you are being optimistic.

“It’s always further than it looks.

It’s always taller than it looks.

And it’s always harder than it looks.” The 3 rules of mountaineering.

The purpose of this short photo story was to highlight just one aspect that can transform a perfect day out into a turbulent adventure: the weather. If you are planning a long climb or a multi-day stay on the glaciers, you should always consult with a reliable weather forecast. Mountains are unpredictable: what can start as a sunny, beautiful day can very fast turn into a raging storm.

However, one of the most important thing is to learn to let go. While in the middle of a climb where every step monopolizes all your attention, it may happen, to get so focussed on a short distance that you are failing to see the whole picture, like the rapid deterioration of the weather. The summit might be not far away above you, with you feeling strong and motivated. You may think that you would have enough time before the bad weather kicked in. 80% of the accidents happen on the way back. Pull the plug while you can! You will have other opportunities to come back.

The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too.

– Harvey Voge


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