Yesterday was the first one of the back country days this season where I spent a lot of time in the no fall zone. I ended my riding last season with the 3/4 couloir, and that put me into a strange reflective space about what it is I find so attractive about challenges that have consequence. It seems there are few times in everyday life where we spend a lot of time in a space that has serious consequence. Our stresses in the western world are often those that fall under the label of “First world problems“, issues such as: traffic, bad hair days, long lineups for coffee, and our bosses wanting us to work more. It is rather appalling that our own state of self obsession has grown to the point that we with our wealth and luxuries view these as problems. Now I do not wish to equate the problems of high winds, rain, avalanche hazards, and no fall zones with the atrocious realities of poverty. “Problems of poverty” are on an entirely different scale than the realities of being engaged in the mountains. However, there is something to be said for the stark reality of consequence that exists when we are in the mountains.
Two of us went out yesterday and spent three hours being rained on while walking through shin deep snow. Then it was off to stumble along a scree ridge while 100km/hr gusts had us lying face down on the rock to keep from being blown away. Onwards and upwards through more snow and wind and then after a short bout of riding we got the pleasure of the day. We had a two hundred meter col to make it onto; our way blocked by a 50 degree frozen scree slope with only patches of good snow. So off we went. Kicking in steps and working our way up and then across to the safety of the Robertson col. The angle becoming far more moderate as the snow on the slope became more thin (okay, we likely should have had an axe with us, or crampons, but the reality is we did not. I am not saying that seeking out no fall zones and danger is wise, or a good choice. Indeed my next item is crucial to remember, other equipment wouldn’t have actually made either of them less true. Rather it would have simply made everything easier.) Now there are two things to note: I don’t think we were at any point in any actual danger. Second, had we made a mistake the consequence would likely have been fatal. An odd space to spend an hour in. You are okay, but the reality is that your actions have consequence. You are brought into that terrifying moment called the present, and then you spend an hour there.
Yet there is something about being in that space. Somehow everything seems more vibrant and real when you are actually engaging with your world. The stresses and issues that one deals with during the week are put in their proper perspective. Somehow the fact that your coffee shop takes ten minutes to make your coffee isn’t as big of an issue when it takes ten minutes to move 40m across a snow face. Maybe that is why I love my days in the mountains; they give perspective. It is good to have my world expanded to something bigger than training, working, and people. It is good to be pulled into the painful present for a little while every week. Giving context to what matters during the rest of the week.
Anyways. There is the musings for the day. It has been a good month of riding already; nice to start the season in late August. Hopefully though I will be able to quit thinking about it and actually getting a bit more content up here for everyone. Sorry that there hasn’t been much the past couple months.