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MY FIRST FORAY INTO THE FRONT RANGE OF COLORADO.
(June 5, 2004-June 14, 2005)
By Andrew Core
The time has come for this one to realize his dream. For reasons I have not quite understood, I am drawn to the mountains and the high places of the world. I do not know why, other than when I am in the mountains or on the cliffs, emotions well up inside me that could not be provoked by an ordinary existence on the flats. It is these very emotions that urge me to return time after time.
I began rock climbing, while I was in college, back in 1993. With the help of an indoor climbing wall on campus and a handful of great mentors, I quickly learned a craft that would stick with me for the rest of my years.
In 1996, for reasons difficult to explain, I sold all of my climbing gear and purchased a mountain bike. By all means another good craft that took me into the hills. However, this would be another story in my life.
I dawned my shoes and harness again in 1998 after a good friend and climbing partner brought me to my senses. Only this time it was more difficult to find time to climb. I had a demanding job and finding time off at the same time as my partner was next to impossible. The flame of desire was dying.
In the fall of 2000, I became an Emergency Medical Technician. The new career had a better schedule. Only one problem remained. I had no partners anymore. They had all gone their separate ways and contact became nonexistent. The lack of a good partner did not discourage me however.
After a couple long years of waiting for the right person to come along, I recruited an eager young woman who had the fortune, or misfortune, of being my partner on the ambulance. We made an excellent team and she showed a keen interest in climbing. The flame of desire was rekindled.
Now, here I am today, passing on all that I know, much like my mentors. I am taking the next step into the mountains. The path before me leads to the summit of my desire. My desire is to climb the high peaks in the purest of style.
Alpine style is climbing mountains in the most purest essence. Alpine style means attempting to climb mountains on the most equitable footing possible without applying excessive technology to overcome deficits in skill or courage or without using permanently damaging tactics. To climb alpine style means to adhere to these ethics from beginning to end. It means being equal to the challenge imposed by the mountain in its natural state. A simpler definition of alpine style lies in the tradition of Walter Bonatti and Reinhold Messner. Climb the hardest routes with the least amount of gear. One of my mentors, and probably the most influential, once described alpine style as such, “Take only what you need and a little bit less”.
I once read “alpinism is the art of suffering”. Mark Twight wrote in his book, Extreme Alpinism:
The difference between a good alpinist and a great one is will. To be a great climber, you must exercise the discipline required to know yourself…
Where does this strong will and hardness come from? It derives from recognizing desires and goals and then enduring whatever it takes to fulfill them. A strong will grows from suffering and being rewarded for it…
Suffering provides the opportunity to exercise will and to develop toughness…
The mind and body adapt to both comfort and deprivation. The difficult experiences of mountaineering may appear irrational and risky from the comfort of the armchair, but learning to deal with them is essential…
Twight goes on to tell a story of two of his friends:
Michael Gilbert and Scott Backes got soaked to the bone climbing the Waterfall Pitch on the north face of the Eiger. When they stopped for the night at the Brittle Ledges, they discovered their sleeping bags were drenched as well. Michael asked, “What are we going to do now?” Scott replied, “We’re going to suffer”.
This is the challenge I set before me. The journey towards the realization of my dream is long and enduring. I vow to hold true to the ethics I believe in. Through enjoyment and suffering, success and failure, I will reach the top.
“No one is more irresistible than the dreamer whose dreams have come true.”
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