The Inglorious Mountaineer

Mountaineering pictures often look so badass. Even my own mountaineering pictures, it looks like we are taking the mountain down and showing it who’s boss. The reality is so far from this image. Right off camera, I’m usually rocking myself madly and crying for my mommy.

Tomorrow, I will be carrying 50lbs up Mount Si. That’s close to 50% of my body weight, so you know, by virtue of being able to do this, I am a total badass. Right? Oh, how I wish.

I’ve seen other mountaineers train. They bounce past me with their five hundred pounds pack, long muscular limbs, bounding like graceful gazelles. Swooping down to pick up small children and elderly and carrying them up the mountain so we can all enjoy the view together.

I can be the next Bambi. Instead, I’m the neurotic hermit crab that chose a too big shell. Crawling along pitifully. Family walking by, poking it with a stick, “Is it still alive? Maybe it needs water, pour some water on it.” That just about sums up the pretty that is mountaineer me.

I’m still peeling too. Clumps of dead skin flaking off me. Every time I scratch my ears, a piece of skin sheds off. This is only after ONE day on the mountain. We are being warned that FOUR days will be that much worse. Places that we don’t even think of burning will burn. Like the inside of our noses. One suggestion is sticking a finger full of sunblock up the nose. Another is sticking a SPF Chapstick up there. Then, of course, the question is, do you carry two Chapsticks or just slum it up? There’s always the fear that you mix them up when oxygen deprived.

I love dogs. I would love to own a dog, but I really hate picking up and carrying dog poop. I hate it enough to never consider owning a dog until I have a giant yard with a corner set aside for doggie business. Still, people love their dogs enough to carrying some heavy bags of poop around. Guess who else carry poop around. Mountaineers! Yay! On mountains that are covered in snow all year round, human waste does not compost nicely into nature, it gets preserved for prosperity. So we get to bury it next to our tent like treasure than dig it up and carry it out like a prize we won.

The beauty of mountaineering is, despite all the less than glorious moments, the sum of the awesome will still come out so far ahead, that every moment leading up to the summit and back will be so worth it.

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