wsharber wrote:1 ) Have you been into hiking and mountaineering all your life? Or has it been a more recent interest?
I grew up in the Puma Mountains and was exploring them since I was a child. I climbed Mount Elbert at age 7. I've been doing it my whole live.
I would consider myself avid though other interests compete for my time. I don't get out as much as I'd like to, but life is about finding balance. Part of my mountaineering experience is being a member of SAR. This demands a lot of training time and takes away from some hikes, but I get to be a part of making mountaineering safer and more enjoyable for others.wsharber wrote:2 ) Are you avid about hiking/mountaineering? Or is it just something you may do every once in a while with a couple of buddies?
Too much. I always have plans for the next adventure, and I'm constantly helping others decide where to go and what to take on a trip. Planning trips helps curb the addiction between trips. I have my own website that I post trip reports and try to write helpful info for other hikers. I'm constantly reading new articles on new gear, techniques, practices, routes, etc.wsharber wrote:3 ) Do you find yourself thinking about and wishing to be on the mountain or on the trails often?
Absolutely. I find the true measure of the quality of a mountaineer is in the times he/she has had to turn back, not just in the ones they succeeded. I greatly respect Ed Viesturs. He has done some amazing mountains and has managed to do it without those trips costing him much. He has a healthy fear of the mountains. Many people who climb those mountains loose toes, fingers, and much more simply because they didn't wait for the right time. "There are old climbers, and bold climbers, but there are no old bold climbers."wsharber wrote:4 ) Do you believe in Ed Viesturs' motto of "Getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory", or are you willing to take the risk?
Not really. Life is not about living selfishly. Happiness is found in giving of yourself to others. I work at a job that allows me to help a lot of people. The money I earn at that job enables my wife and I to do foster care for kids who wouldn't have a family otherwise. It also buys the equipment I use for Search and Rescue. Sometimes I hike to enjoy the mountain myself, but more and more I am taking groups and sharing my love of the mountains with them. I agree with Chris McCandless when he wrote "happiness isn't real unless it's shared." I love taking people into the mountains for the first time in their lives. Even people who have lived near the mountains their whole lives are amazed at the beauty that can be found in the mountains.wsharber wrote:5 ) Have you ever wanted to simply quit your job and just climb for the rest of your life?
It certainly hasn't been all about the summit. Undeniably making the summit is the goal and a great part of a trip. However, I have had failed attempts that I have enjoyed far more than many of my successful ones. I think the real goal is learning to overcome. Sometimes making the summit is the challenge to overcome. Sometimes learning to make smart decisions that go against or desires is the challenge. Sometimes just surviving the trip is the challenge.wsharber wrote:6 ) Is it all about gaining the summit? Or do you cherish every moment of the ascent and descent, whether you summit or not?
As I stated earlier I prefer to share the experience with others. I also prefer not to go solo because it is much safer with at least one partner. "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." Also, if you really want to get to know someone, take them on a backpacking trip. My strongest friendships have been forged after days on a trail working together to achieve a goal. It's also ended some friendships as well, but I think that's been for the better as well.wsharber wrote:7 ) Do you prefer going solo? With a group? Both?
wsharber wrote:8 ) Do you enjoy running into climbers who are new to the sport on the trails or not? Why or why not?
I enjoy meeting and hiking with new climbers so that I can also enjoy their enthusiasm and I can share the places I've been and loved. Yeah sometimes new mountaineers can be obnoxious with being overzealous, posturing, attitude, and disrespect; but those things have a way of working themselves out. Either with experience they'll lose it, they'll just give up on the sport, or the mountain will take care of it. We have all gone through that phase and continue to go through it really. I enjoy helping get them started on the right foot. I benefited from others taking the time to teach me, so I try to do the same for others. I also always try to remember that the guy to be most scared of is the one that claims to be an expert. There are no experts in the mountains. Part of giving advice is being open to taking advice and potentially changing your stance when a better alternative is presented.
I just show them the pictures and don't expect them to understand. I can't expect everyone to get it or agree with it. Some guys work on cars and get really enthusiastic about it. I can appreciate their love of what they do, but spending a weekend under a car replacing a transmission would be a horrible time in my mind.wsharber wrote:9 ) If you were talking to someone who simply doesn't understand why we put ourselves in such harsh
conditions to hike brutal distances just for the chance to reach the summit, what would you tell them?
wsharber wrote:10 ) Describe what you feel when you finally gain the summit...
Different things every time. Some of the more common are:
Accomplishment. Reaching the summits of the 14ers requires putting forth a lot of effort and fighting a mental battle the whole way. The harder the summit the greater the sense of accomplishment.
Relief. Getting to the top generally means the hardest part is over. Of course for a number of 14ers this isn't true.
Unburdened. I find getting away from the daily grind and spending several hours hiking and putting your mind into such a basic but enjoyable task helps you regain proper perspective on life. The worrys of the world tend to fade when put into the perspective of the creation of God, and when all but the essential for life are left behind.