On the trail to the peak, I lost sight of our destination. The wind was fierce and blew us back one step for our two. Mt Shavano is a 14er- a mountain cresting over 14,000 feet and one of the 58 beasts that tower in the Colorado sky.
It is not one of the peaks that serious mountaineers brag about as being treacherous and technical, but it has all things dangerous that craggy mountains have- freak storms, impossible heights, steep cliffs, falling rock and unforgiving exposure. And, since I’m not a serious mountaineer, I do brag about it- with regularity.
Near the top, with just 100 yards to go, I couldn’t see the peak. With huge boulders in front of me, and the breath squeezed out of me, I didn’t know if I could make it. I had fleeting temptations to stop and turn around. The cold and the wind were becoming more intolerable with each step, and I was telling myself, “hey, we’ve come pretty far already- it wouldn’t be so bad to turn around.”
Our team was made up of five women, most of us friends from years back. Most of us were mothers and wives and had left our adventurous selves somewhere back in BC- before children. Our fearless leader Lara, lived in the mountains, and raised cattle and kids on a ranch in Buena Vista. She and another woman on our climbing crew, were white water river guides back in the day and took teams of people up these trails. These were not women faint of heart, or lacking in skill.
But on this day, 15 years, 11 collective kids and four husbands later, this mountain was kicking our butts. Lara was the best prepared of all of us, and would not let us stop. She is the reason I summited- she is the reason I didn’t turn around. Even though I couldn’t see the peak or how far I needed to climb to get there, she had been this direction before and knew what to expect.
When the climb became more technical, she told us what to watch out for. When we languished she encouraged us to keep going, eat a candy bar, or make jokes. Lara lied to us several times near the end saying, “you’re almost there!” She passed around her water bottle- which is like pure gold up there, and she deviously talked about her 9 year old daughter summiting the summer before.
Finally we did it. One more push, reach, and stumble and the sky suddenly opened before us there at the tippy top of that colossal rock. We saw the valley below, the mountains that went on forever, and the curve of the earth’s horizon. We looked at each other with shared pride and signed the register that forever (until shredding) logs our success. It was a crowning moment in my life.
It’s ok to need a climbing guide- a person to encourage you and keep you from giving up. It’s ok to regularly need inspiration outside of yourself. That’s what writing groups and conferences are for. There are many times that you won’t be able to see where you’re going, and you’ll need someone to give you direction. And when you get really seasoned, you will be like Lara- helping others to find their way.
Don’t give up- keep climbing, keep learning, keep studying the industry. Keep connecting, keep encouraging others. The view at the top is extraordinarily good for the soul. Don’t stop till you summit. (Then turn around and climb another!)
Photo of Mt. Shavano credit here.
Michelle Hollomon is a licensed counselor and professional coach with a private practice in Redmond, WA. Her book, God Unwrapped, published by Harrison House will be available in stores September 6th. She has been a member of NCWA since 2010. She will be speaking at the NCWA meeting on June 6th.
Michelle Hollomon, MA, LMHC, CPC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Professional Coach
Approved Clinical Supervisor • 425-999-9470
Bringing opportunity to any challenge.