An Expedition in Moments
I wake in a blur, in the abruptness of a moment. As my eyes try and focus those are the first numbers I see. Altitude. My brain strains to make sense of the world around me. Catch yourself. Just Breath. It's daylight but not yet morning. Denali. Camp III is basked in the soft light of dawn but there is no warmth yet to speak of. I wake to a dusting of ice on my face and sleeping bag. The silence of the morning mesmerizes me. I drift back to sleep.
The plane jolts with turbulence, my knuckles whiten as I squeeze the seat in front of me. Catch yourself. Just breath. An irrational act of survival, a fear of the unknown. What would it be like, my last second to my first? That instant between breaths when you are inevitably cast upon an unknown voyage. I see a child in the seat next to me. Her eyes ignited with the joy of life in this new found world. Oblivious to the million mechanized parts currently synchronized in the impracticality of maintaining a pressurized metal tube in flight. She is in bliss, in ecstasy, in the moment. I, on the other hand, am losing my breath just before impact.
The numbers glare at me under frost. My lungs burning as I gasp for air. Catch yourself. Just breath. The 7mm cord between us stretched taught in the freezing wind. Its yellow sheath, a stark contrast to the ice-covered ridge below. I can't feel my hands but I shake them anyways. The immediacy of descent paramount. At that moment, in many, I feel alive. We descend towards safety. Little humans cast upon that mountain ridge.
Steam from my mug rises swiftly in the cold sea air. The feeling of the Pacific between my toes. I walk the beach and lose myself in the dance of seagulls, in the crashing of waves, and in the warmness of my summer skin. I do not know if it's my mind, my life, or my climbing that reminds me of the impermanence of what I've made. Of life, or of moments. I feel fortunate though, to be reminded of the fragility of life. To be thrust headlong into adventure. To lose myself in the little things. In the moments between breath and breathing, or the scattering of dawn across snow. In labored muscles and perfectly balanced ice tools. In the sag of Hilleberg guylines at dusk, or grain sacks filled with snow. In the feeling of aged paper pressed just between my thumb and forefingers. There's just enough moisture to separate the pages, but not smear the ink. The unconscious progression of futures into pasts. There's something about the presence of mind that is created in the pursuit of mountains, that for better or worse, spills over into all aspects of my life. Maybe its the change of glaciers over the summer months, or the change of friends, or of lovers. Maybe its the change of self, voyage after voyage, into those sacred lands.
Or maybe it's in capturing moments and in letting them go.
- George Bieker, Co-Founder & Coach
Read more at georgebieker.com