It was day three of our Mount Arapiles six-day trip. The weather forecast was for a scorching hot day, and we decided to climb a route in the shade. Flicking through the guidebook, we found a route called “Eskimo Nell” — a bit of Eskimo-ness was exactly what I needed.
The climb was a lot of fun. Not only was the climb beautifully shaded, but it featured an engaging variety of features: there was a crack to climb to begin with, a cave and a chimney in the middle, and an awesome free-hanging abseil at the end. All the way through, the rock was just excellent – unspeakably enjoyable — the type of climb that made all hard work worth it.
Coming off the top of the climb, we had met some awesome Australia guys. The abseils took a while, and so we had time to chat – they were a lot of fun. They had invited us to their campsite, to sit around the fire. We headed over later in the evening and enjoyed an epic yarn. Time went fast.
That’s when my body began hitting the wall, and I knew I needed to get to bed. I suddenly felt slightly panicked inside. I needed to get to bed, but it was hard to get away — the guys kept on chatting. I finally climbed into my tent later than I had hoped. I found it hard to get to sleep, anxious with the reality that a single late night could derail the whole trip. I was also in a bit of pain, which made for a fitful night.
I awoke to the sound of the kookaburra. They were so loud, and it was so, so early. I turned over and put in my earplugs, hoping that I would fall back to sleep. I dozed for a bit, but a kookaburra had decided to perch in the pine directly above our tent. Sleeping was futile, and breakfast with some freshly-brewed coffee seemed like a better option.
I sat on the log beside our tent, while the mocha pot spluttered away. I felt tired, and I was worried and stressed. Stress is never good, so I took a moment to breathe deeply, and to enjoy the sunlight on my face and fresh morning air filling my lungs. Eat well, listen to my body, and don’t push too hard – I knew the drill. Those were the things I knew I needed to do if I wanted to best protect myself from crashing.
Jake joined me on the log, eager for some coffee. I explained how I felt — communication is so important. We decided it would be best to take it easy, to not attempt anything too hard. I reminded myself that that was ok, and that I needed to be more present.
We took our time on Tiptoe Ridge, an easy but enjoyable climb. We took time to eat our lunch halfway and soaked in the sun. I consciously focused on enjoying the beauty of the climb, rock and surrounding landscape — and it was deeply satisfying. Our climbing was by no means a daring or impressive accomplishment, but it was the right choice. Best of all, the rest of the week was not a right-off.
At times, it’s hard not to get discouraged or extraordinarily frustrated. Sometimes I question if it’s worth the enormous amount of time and energy it takes to keep climbing. In those moments, I need a goal to remind me that the struggle is worth it. Inspiring outdoor missions are key and that’s why I set up the Mastering Mountains Expedition Grant.
The Mastering Mountains Expedition Grant is designed to help people cover the costs of an overseas trip that they are excited about. We pay some or all of the trip costs and have partnered with World Expeditions, who provide the trips. With this grant, we hope to show others what’s possible with MS and bring hope. Applicants should be excited about reaching into their community, to spread hope and talk about their experiences.