What is summit chasing? Why do we climb to the tops of mountains?
The answer to that question is as individual as the person answering it. The challenge, the views, being in nature, or a sense of achievement are all valid answers. So is the mountain as a metaphor for any hard challenge in life. Whether it is an actual peak or an imagined one, there's a euphoric rush that comes with standing at the top of the world, even if it is just for a few moments.
I recently went full time into self-employment. That’s a mountain for me to climb. In the past I’ve pushed through some mental health and chronic health issues. That’s a mountain for me to climb. We all have mountains to climb, and sometimes by hiking an actual summit, we find out path to be little bit clearer.
The Cost of Climbing Mountains
Some mountains can be summited with little to no gear and moderate fitness. Some mountains cost into the tens and hundreds of thousands to climb with gear and travel and lodging. I’ve mainly summited mountains with gear that cost me less than $200 – a pair of trail shoes, a pair of poles, and a camelback.
I find that I leave a part of myself on every mountain I climb. But what I gain in return is so much greater. Sometimes this is intentional. I’ve done a lot of healing in the mountains, leaving behind things I do not need anymore. In addition, I’ve left a lot of sweat on those mountains. The strength I come back down with is far more powerful than what I left up there. Sometimes that’s emotional or mental, but it’s always physical.
Making to the top
Many of the people I consider to be… not heroes… but people I look up to, have climbed far more difficult mountains than I have. In fact, they’ve climbed mountains I never will. Let’s be honest, I’m not going to summit Everest in this lifetime.
Summit chasing is sometimes looked down upon in the mountaineering world. Especially when it involves people getting into more than they can handle because of deconditioning. In fact, that’s how many people get hurt or killed. But in our lives, summit chasing is something we need to do.
Fitness and massage are what I do. They’ve become my summit because I want to be the best at them, because that way I can help you get to your summits. The resiliency you learn through fitness can be applied to any part of your life. The self-care of getting massage can get you where you need to go, because if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.
“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
― Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks