How I Climbed the Matterhorn and Came Back Alive — Part II

Carrying an over 40lbs pack on Mt Olympus

In Hebrew, we say about restless children that they have thorns in their rear end. An apt metaphor, I always thought. As a child, I did not have this particular problem. I sat for hours, engulfed in a book. But how long can I read about adventure before I wish to experience one for my self?

Every few years, I’d dip my feet in the sea of adventure, only to pull them back quickly in dismay. In the IDF, after enlisting with idealistic hopes and fervor, I found myself buried in boring offices with a boring job. Later, at Stanford, I decided to stay living at home. I  avoided interactions with my fellow students, becoming perhaps the only student in the world who had never been to a college party.

I came to have these beliefs about myself: I believed in my own physical weakness, my need for comfort, my inability to handle physical hardship. I believed that while hiking (a favorite activity in which I limited myself to no more than 5 or so miles) I could not possibly carry a bag. I believed that I was a hermit, hiding from the world within the pages of books, unable truly to experience life.

Boy, was I wrong about that!

On Muir Snow Field, Mt Rainier

I suppose after years of yearning for adventure I should not be surprised when adventures catch up to me and flash-flood my life, but the me who lacks confidence in my survival skills still freezes with fright when an adventure arrives. As the Matterhorn trip came closer, I began to freak out, unconsciously knowing, perhaps, that this adventure was planning on breaking all the rules and leaving no easy way out.

I stressed. I reread the chapter on the Matterhorn in the book. I looked at trip reports on the web. I studied the map. Cliff sent an email with details. You’ll need boots and crampons, he said. I read about the glacier in the book, but somehow did not expect to cross it. Weight accumulated. I feared I would not be able to carry my pack. I worried about what Dar and I would eat for lunch, for snacks. I worried about not having a bathroom. I worried about the climb. I worried about my fitness level. I worried that I would not come back alive.

Solo campsite on Bear Mtn, Coe SP

At the same time, with all my heart, I believed that this trip would not come to pass. And why worry about something that is not going to happen? I tried to put the Matterhorn, Cliff, backpacks, crampons and glaciers out of my mind. I found other, more important stuff to worry about.

But the clock, persistent as ever, kept ticking. Days rolled by. And before I knew it, Monday was here, the car was packed, and the road was beckoning Dar and I toward the High Sierra, the Matterhorn, and an adventure out of this life.

To be continued…..

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