Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is the risk worth the Reward? - Mountain Climbing


Is the risk worth the Reward?

By Bryon Thelen

This past year I took up a hobby of mountain climbing.  I guess I would say it has consumed my life. People always ask me “why I want to climb a mountain”.  I try to explain to them the feelings you get after reaching the summit. It's hard to explain the joy I get from an agonizing climb to the top of a mountain. But to me the reward is so worth it. Every time I top out (summit) I get a rush of accomplishment, joy, self empowerment. This is an experience few people care to embark on. To me the risk is worth the reward. This hobby does come with risk, and to some people it is considered an irresponsible level of risk.

This past Sunday I was watching the news and there was a segment on 3 climbers on Mt. Hood in Oregon. One climber was found dead and the other two were still missing. This was concerning to me as I am planning a trip to attempt a summit on Mt Hood this coming May. Over the past few days I have followed this story very closely and my heart goes out to the climbers and their families. The 3 climbers were said to be experienced. This makes me concerned about my own abilities. I also think the 3 climbers took on more risk then I am willing to battle at this point. They attempted a winter ascent when weather is more severe. I typically climb in the spring when winter storms are less likely to occur.

So far I think I have been able to balance the risk and the reward. I feel everyone has a level of acceptable risk. I have yet to feel like I am pushing the limits on any of my climbs. That's not to say I am free of danger. While climbing a mountain I am testing my self against Mother Nature along with my own personal abilities.

So my answer to the question “Is the risk worth the reward”? Most definitely Yes, between the rush of feelings that overcome me after reaching the summit and the spectacular views along the way. During My last trip out to the west coast I summited Middle Sister (one of three mountains called “The Three Sister Mountains”). My climbing buddy and I had left our base camp around 1:00 am. After 4 ½ hours and 3300 vertical ft. of pain-staking effort (we camped at 6700 ft) we were standing on the summit. The views we were blessed with were breath taking. I was standing on top of a mountain at 10,047 ft above sea level watching the sun rise. Don't get me wrong I don't climb mountains just for the view. I guess it’s a way for me to push myself to do something that seems impossible.

I think everyone should try to push them selves to take a little risk and try something they don't think is possible for them. You may find out the reward is greater than the risk!

note from the editor:  Bryon is the young man I met last week that inspired me to write the article about passion...thanks for your story Bryon, I look forward to many more gatherings and stories in the future...



Wolfy said...

I think that anyone who climbs mountains, or does a lot of bouldering, knows and understands the risks involved. It is rarely the climbers themselves who are shocked by these severe outcomes; rather, it is the relatives and friends who do not climb.

While it might not be the primary reeason people climb, danger is an inherent element of the challenge, and is some ways a part of the reason some peope climb at all.

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