Many of you have asked me "why" I'm headed back to Everest. As each of you ask this question with such wonder, I think to myself that I can't quite find the words to tell you why, or what really pulls me back to the mountains. But as I sit here in Dubai (headed for Nepal) alone with my thoughts at 4:30 AM, it seems that it'd be nice to at least try to describe what I'm thinking and feeling about going back.
After the tragedy that claimed 16 lives on the mountain last year, a fellow climber wrote the following on my blog - "For those who seek adventure, meaning, solace or solitude in the mountains, there can be no other way but to embrace all possible outcomes. Few who choose this way of life would exchange it for another. Lucky we are to be surrounded by those who share our passion, but doomed we are to share such tragedies."
Although I feel that this is so well said, there may be some of you who don't understand or can't relate to what it means to me and other climbers. I love my family first and foremost, without a doubt, and I also love the mountains. The adventure and the idea of setting goals in life and trying to reach them is something that's ingrained in my core; it's simply part of who I am. I'd like to finish the goal that I've started, the goal to climb the highest mountain on each continent - and I'm so close (I think :)
When we were in the midst of last year's events it was hard to see the big picture. It was hard to remember that people die in the mountains but that it's more rare than not. It was hard for me to remember that I'm not choosing between my life at home and dying in the mountains. I like to think it's similar to surviving a plane crash or a major pile up on the freeway. We might be hesitant to get back on a plane, or back on the highway, but the chances are...
When my brother was killed and I was sitting at his funeral thinking about what I'd regret not doing in this life, I must have known that a major goal like this would come with some obstacles and setbacks. Actually, I believe that almost anything worth doing in life is gonna have obstacles. If it's something that's worth our limited time it's going to have a high price.
I guess it comes down to this: I set out to climb the seven summits and I have six of them done. Last year on Everest slapped me down pretty hard and I didn't think I'd get back up, but I did. I think Everest is right in front of me and I can finish this worthy goal if it's still important enough to me. I want to spend a long and happy life with my wife and my boys but I also want my boys to know that life is going to throw us all some curve-balls that we need to deal with.. without giving up if the price isn't too high.
I guess I've realized that the chances are good that I can have both: a wonderful life with my crew at home and the seven summits. This life really is full of wonder and mystery and we really don't know what's around the next corner. But what I do know is that I want to keep going. I want to keep looking and exploring and living great adventures! If there's more setbacks along the way I'll do my best to deal with them as they come. If there's a price to pay, I'll do my best to remember that it's part of the life I've chosen. What I don't want to do is to find myself on my death bed saying to myself that I wish I had...
It really isn't a dress rehearsal my friends! I hope that each of you go find your Everest, find whatever it is that's important to you and do what you can to make it part of your life! Do whatever it is that you'd regret not doing if your time was up.
Thank you all for being part of my life; part of my journey!