This image is of Espen Fadnes chilling out during our 14 days on Ulvetanna, Queen Maud land, during the 1st ascent of the West Ridge. We climbed the route capsule-style, fixing up to a big snowfield, where we pitched two tents, pulled up our ropes, and fixed up to the summit. I like this picture as it says something about the reality of doing something really hard, a new route on a peak like Ulvetanna as hard as it gets: hard work, yes, a little suffering, a little danger, but mostly fun, compared to that idea of what that would be, dark and cold and death on a stick.
All big climbs, trips and expeditions begin in the mind. It generally starts slow, with some small positive ambition, a dream, maybe even a shudder of tingling fear (like diving from a high diving board), or even, something you know you must finally confront, like ‘that climb’, you know you can do but have yet to dare. You will begin to make a list of all the reason how and why you should and could make this ambition real until you add them all up and can’t of a reason why not.
For most, next will come those reasons: all the doubts, the reasons why not, why it’s too dangerous, too hard, too far, too cold, too far beyond what you’ve done before. What were you thinking! Now you will begin to make a list of all the reasons why you should pour water on those dream ambers. You make a column for yes and column for no and where once you could see no reason why not, now you find you have an almost endless column against. With no need to tot up, you can see that thing that could have been, becomes nothing again, or perhaps just a nagging ambition, that tugs at you until you’re thankfully too old, too fat, too weak, too grown up, to pay it any attention.
But, it’s worth remembering this, from someone who’s been there, is that once you commit to something, once you’re stuck in - win or lose - once you’ve jumped off the board, you’ll soon find the reasons why you should have stayed at home, safe, dreaming, don’t add up to anything at all.