Conquering Myself

A brief history of me and my addiction to high elevation

My first moment above treeline was at the age of 6 months old. My parents carried me to Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park at an elevation of just under 12,000 feet. I climbed Hallet Peak (12,713ft) all on my own man power at the age of 8 and at that moment, I fell in love with the high altitude air and feeling like being on-top of the world, but I knew I wasn’t high enough, I wanted to be up higher. At the age of 9 I did a report on Edmund Hillary in school, the first man to summit Everest and that is when I realized that’s what I wanted to do. 

Long’s Peak summit circa 2003


At  the age of 12, I attempted Long’s Peak (14,259ft) for the first time. I made it to 14,000 ft before I got turned around. But the peak was so close it haunted me for an entire year. The next summer I made it and I experienced my first Fourteener at 13 years old and I was at the highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park!

After experiencing a variety of traumatic experiences during my teen years, and was left with untreated major depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, mental illness seemed to have taken over my life. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten how to live life to the fullest and enjoy the things I used to. I attempted suicide on two different accounts as I felt like there was no hope left for me in this world.

View from the summit

After hitting my rock bottom, I finally got help. Through a very long and hard recovery, I learned how to love myself, as well as find joy again in my life through the outdoors. Soon, I had the opportunity to climb Long’s all over again. I was reminded on how much I LOVE the feeling: It is the best feeling in the world!

Long’s Peak 2011

For me, being on-top of the world is a very personal and almost spiritual experience for me. The overwhelming feeling I get on a high mountain is inexplicable.. I sometimes like to think it is where I feel closest to the heavens, just in reach above me, and the beauty of the Earth below.

I hope that in sharing my journey, it may touch someone who feels the same way I do and find that they can find happiness and peace in doing what they love whatever it may be, and knowing that there is hope to conquer their mental illness.

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