Mastering The Climb

The aim of this post is to record what I need to be doing to ensure that the life-changing events of last year do indeed change my life, rather than slip gradually out of sight and become more like obscured signposts. The title comes from a thought I had whilst watching a talk (linked below) by the free solo climber Alex Honnold, who spoke of his meticulous preparation for an ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

He contrasted the climb with a previous highlight of his life, free soloing the wall at Half Dome, also in Yosemite. During that ascent, he experienced doubt and panic due to a youthful lack of preparation, and required some fortune to make it to the top. For his ultimate climb almost a decade later, he would benefit from a decision he made that day: to be a great climber rather than a lucky one. When he finally made the decision to free solo El Cap, after years of reasonably considering it to be too crazy, he spent two years preparing thoroughly and methodically. He wanted to achieve mastery.

In an instant I saw how transferable his words were to my own situation. I won’t be moving even an inch off the ground, but there is a summit in front of me which requires meticulous preparation. It’s one I have faced many times before, but have always been overwhelmed by it. In addition, there were invariably other areas which distracted and diluted my focus. After the events of last year, I am now more ready than ever to tackle it.

From what I know about myself I will have two chances to scale it this year. The first is probably only a few months away. Every day counts because if November is anything to go by, when the time comes, I will be sorely tempted to follow my mind to a destructive place which does not serve me in any way.

I was planning to make this piece and the subsequent daily practice as comprehensive as possible, commensurate with the level of insight. Fortunately, I realised midway through that it needs to be simple. The only mantra I need, therefore, is this: Let go. Be empty.


Related posts: Confidence & Self-Belief | You Think Too Much | A Vision For My Future  •  Alex Honnold: How I climbed a 3,000-foot vertical cliff — without ropes  •  Here is another talk from a different climber, Tommy Caldwell, who explains that hardship is inevitable in life – so get yourself ready – but that it always leads to personal growth: What are you up against?

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