Gain a Sense of Self



Who am I, Really?

Understanding your emotions and how they effect you is something every human on this planet needs to function successfully in life, in society, in relationships, in your career, and in conquering your goals and aspirations. Whenever you are struggling with making a decision, fears, or anxiety, it helps to start at the core: the emotions themselves.

WHAT IS EMOTION?

Emotion drives us, some more than others. Even those with a very analytical personality are still driven by core emotions to some degree, especially in circumstances that effect your livelihood. Emotions are simply feelings and reactions whether positve or negative towards an external stimuli. We have a variety of emotional responses such as fear, anger, joy, sadness, and disgust (sound familiar?). As much as we may love that Pixar movie Inside Out, we have many more emotions that our bodies can react and respond with and some are more complex than others. Shame, envy, contempt, anxiety, depression, surprise, happiness, love, pride, and so on. This heat map shows how our bodies feel those different emotions.

The list is endless. We have a word or phrase for over a hundred different feelings and they are all at different points on the spectrum. However every emotion, every feeling can be placed into one of two categories: Desire and Avoidance.

Try this Journal Exercise:

First Question: Which emotion do you think controls you most? Why? What do you think is fueling that emotion: desire or avoidance?

Think about what you desire most in this life. What is it that you desire? What feelings or emotions come up when you think about what you desire? Now take a different direction with desire, look at “Desire” as a whole. What does “Desire” mean to you? What does it do for you in your life? What collective emotions drive your Desire?

Now, look at the other side of the coin, what is the one thing you want to avoid most in life? What emotions or feelings come up when you think about what you want to avoid? Look at “Avoidance” as a whole. What does “Avoidance” mean to you? What does it do for you in life? What collective emotions drive your avoidance?

Last concept to ponder: What is your desire’s relationship with your avoidance? How can they work together for? So I ask you again to think on this one last time: Which one do you think has greater control of your emotions: Desire or Avoidance?

Desire and Avoidance are similar to the concept of yin and yang. A small piece of one can be found in the other and they can work together in helping you accomplish life. Your goals and aspirations are commonly driven by desire but the fear of failure or fear of the unknown can cause us to avoid certain steps to get there. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because we desire a certain outcome and a strong desire helps us conquer those fears. I think most of us prefer to have desire be in dominant control so if it is not already, think about ways where you can help it be in more control. What emotions need to take over? What do you have control over changing to make that happen?

By gaining a little bit of introspection and a better understanding on how your emotions fuel your desires, your goals, and your aspirations in life, you will be able to be more successful at reaching those goals and dreams. If you find yourself avoiding something, stop and ask yourself, why am I avoiding this? What emotions are fueling this? And will this help me get what I desire most? Avoidance is powerful and can stop you dead in your tracks. But desire can help you push past those fears and anxieties fueling avoidance to help you conquer what you want most.

Just remember practice makes perfect. Perspectives don’t change overnight. This is simply one small step in learning how to Conquer Yourself!



How the Mountains Continue to Save My Life

Report from 11/9/18

The outdoors really is the best kind of therapy available to us. Yes, it is critical that we seek professional help in times of need, but as a general coping mechanism nature is the best. Hands down. This week, I needed the mountains more than ever.

Without going into great detail of my living hell growing up, let me just give you the basics of my backstory…

  • My sister passed away when I was 10
  • An unusual number of friends around me passed away from various causes
  • I was emotionally abused, and sexually assaulted on numerous occasions
  • I was dealing with untreated depression
  • I tried to kill myself… twice.
  • I dealt with an eating disorder
  • …but most of all, I felt worthless, unloved, undeserving of love, ashamed, and a waste of space. 

It wasn’t until I passed out at the wheel from malnutrition and totaled my car during my eating disorder that I was able to finally get some help. I have spent the last 8 years in therapy trying to sift through all of the crap. I have put a lot of pieces together over the years, but nothing hit me like a brick wall more than when I found out about a week ago that one of my abusers, nay the first… was recently released from prison. 

Looking back all those years ago, I didn’t think anything was wrong until after the relationship was over. I was blind to the manipulation, the emotional mind games, and the damage he was causing. He made me feel like I was nothing more than an object… When he dumped me for not getting “his way” it all really began to sink in. This was when I REALLY lost myself. I didn’t care anymore. I was worth nothing to myself, or anyone in my mind. My childhood dreams were long forgotten, I was never going to be good enough anyway… because how could I, this worthless, disgusting piece of trash, every be able to live or go after those dreams?

That fire eventually was rekindled through therapy and literally getting back outside where I belong. I was able to work up enough love for myself to be able to taste my dreams and I finally made it to Nepal! But hearing he was out of jail brought up all those horrific feelings: the fear, the anxiety, the disgust in myself, shame for not having the hindsight, the self-loathing, self-doubt, and worthlessness…. they came flooding back. The fight began. Tears, and panic attacks were all of a sudden a daily occurrence, all while the “smarter self” I have spent so many years working on was patching holes at every turn. At first, I slept… A LOT. After a couple days, I finally had some time where I could head up the canyon, take in the snowy views and the cool breeze and try to recenter myself in my element. I was able to just sit for a while, take in the view, think, and process everything that has just happened, as well as other questions my life was trying to throw at me.

Trying to work through the overwhelming amount of feelings going through my head this week I realized a few things. I am NOT, nor will I ever be that person again. I have grown and worked so much, I refuse to let my past try to drag me back down into that hell. I have learned what is truly important to me in my life and am constantly working to make sure my life goes in that direction. I may doubt myself all the time, and feel like I’m not good enough, and question every move I make, but that is because I want to make sure it is the right one. I tell myself all the time, I want to inspire others, and be someone who goes after there dreams and succeeds because those people are amazing inspirations to me. What I have to remind myself is that I already am that person. I have students and people tell me all the time, but being my own worst enemy, by brain would tell me not to believe it, or that I am still not good enough anyway. The one belief system that I haven’t been able to shake…

But it is time. It is time to tell myself that I AM that Badass I have always wanted to be! The one who is training to climb to the top of the world, doing circus tricks in her backyard, and inspiring others to conquer their own dreams, whatever they may be. 

Because after all… (excuse the cheese)

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” 

                                                                -Edmund Hillary 

5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Train (when you really don’t want to)

When browsing social media and see professional athletes hard at work for their next big “thing”, I sometimes feel discouraged thinking “How is it that they always seem motivated to train and workout?!”

There are about a hundred different things in life that can try to drag us down. It is true that some personalities are naturally more accustomed to self-motivation, but the rest of us are constantly influenced by things in our daily lives. Studies have shown for a while that many of us in various parts of the world are over worked, underpaid, and way too stressed out. This makes motivation to train hard for particular dreams and goals difficult. How many of you have been in the situation where after working all day, all week, all you want to do after coming home is sleep, veg out, and decompress? How many of you end up in that situation far too often to where a month later you noticed you’ve gained 5 pounds, and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything?

SO, how can we break that stride? 

One critical piece many of us constantly forget is that exercise IS therapeutic, releases endorphins, and helps us feel better. Getting outside is also therapeutic, releases endorphins, and helps us feel better. But when we are in a motivation rut, we are simply “too tired” or feel like we can’t put forth the effort, it helps to take baby steps. Here are a few ways to start:

Simply get out of the house:

Go for a walk around the block, sit out on the porch, lay in the grass, go to a park, no matter how small, just getting some fresh air and sunlight can make a huge difference.

Do a quick at home workout:

It doesn’t have to be long, even like 10 minutes can help boost your mood. Just shut yourself in your bedroom alone and away from anyone who might bug you, turn on some music and do some push-ups, sit ups, yoga, whatever you feel like, as long as its active and distracting.

Go for the smoothie instead of the ice cream:

How many of us are guilty of eating comfort food after a long day? It is totally natural for us to crave sugary treats when we are upset or stressed out. But making even the smallest change to a healthier food choice can make a big difference. The reality is, eating junk food will only make you feel crappier. But getting vital nutrients that you need (and are probably missing after a stressful day) can help give you a better boost. 

Watch a motivating movie:

If you are really having a hard time getting off the couch or feel like you just need the rest, watch something that will re-ignite that flame inside. The Secret Life of Water Mitty is one of my personal favorites. It really brings out the wanderer inside. Everest may be a sad story about the ’96 disaster, but it the views and scenery will remind you what you of your goals! Free Solo is another great example. It is about Alex Honnold’s free solo climb up El Capitan is absolutely amazing and beautiful to watch. (I have seen it like 8 times.)

Review your goals:

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves what we are fighting for. By going over your plan and reevaluating your goals, you can remind yourself of what is important and why it’s important. It will help re-align your priorities, and maybe you will be able to make adjustments to your busy schedule to help better fit in training. 

Whatever you decide to do, be honest with yourself. No one else is going to care if you workout today or not. No one else is counting on you to live out your dreams and goals but yourself. If you start saying things like “Oh, I’ll just do it tomorrow” to yourself, you are going to find that tomorrow never comes. Nothing worth having in this life ever comes easy…. even when we wish it would. So start now, and you will be taking the first step in the right direction.

Mental Space for the Climbing Mind

Everyone is different. Everyone has different fear and anxieties. A non-climber might ask someone who does climb how they could possibly do it, might even call them crazy. The reality is, we kind of have to be in our own way. We have to be able to conquer our fears and anxieties enough to be able to succeed.

How do we do it? How do we get into the mental focus and space required to successfully top out on a wall or a summit.

Well, again, everyone is different. The best I can do is share my experience. In reality, I have incredibly severe anxiety. Sometimes I feel like a bit of a mess and it is a wonder how I am able to conquer it for the sake of climbing. The truth is, climbing and mountaineering is one of the very few ways I can focus my mind and I know many other climbers that feel the same way. I like to compare it to those who use yoga as a meditation practice. When you do yoga, you have to focus on balance, posing, breathing, and it is nearly impossible to think about anything else that is bothering you in your life. Climbing does the same thing for me. I hone in and focus on my moves, each step I take, each hold I grab, always looking onward and upward.

I had an experience this week on an incredibly easy wall that tested my mental space. This is a wall I have done so many times I have lost count, a route so easy, I honestly could free solo it. I am not sure exactly what it was, but on this particular day, my head just wasn’t in it. I set up the top rope, and I normally repel down from the top, no fear, no big deal… I couldn’t do it. I psyched myself out. Later, climbing the route I got about 3/4 of the way up and froze. I ended up pushing past it, but the thoughts going through my mind were a complete lack of trust in my rope and my gear which NEVER happens. Why on earth was a suddenly freaking out? What was it about that day or that climb that made me so nervous despite doing it dozens of times in the past?

Reflecting back on it, I realized I was not focused, and I wasn’t in my right mind set, I wasn’t climbing for the right reasons that day. I climb for me. I have always climbed for me. It is my therapy, it is how I am able to get an escape, it is a spiritual experience and place for me to be, and it is how I am able to find a sense of peace and calm in my chaotic world. That day, I was not climbing for me…. I am not even sure what I was climbing for… Attention maybe? Showing off to my husband? Embarrassing as it may be, I am quite irritated at myself. It reminds me that no matter how simple the task, I need to be focused on it, and not let other things in my world cloud my judgement. It might not be a big deal on a simple top rope route, but say I am climbing up a Himalayan ridge, that mental space is crucial for success as well as safety. If I got too distracted that I panicked, I could put my life or someone else’s in jeopardy…

I reflect back on my trip to Nepal, and there were a lot of factors that wreaked havoc on my mind. Getting food poisoning early in the trip put a lot of doubt in my mind. It wasn’t until I started feeling better that I received a surge of confidence, that is until I got sick again. The day I climbed Kala Patthar, I was not mentally where I really needed to be at the start of the climb. It was cloudy, and I was more focused on “What if the clouds never move? If I get to the top of this thing and I can’t even see the view I’m gonna be so pissed!” I then began to panic because I wasn’t getting enough air. It was my first experience at 18,000′ and I was beginning to doubt if I could even climb this stupid hill in front of me. About 2/3 of the way up I stopped for a little while, I had to refocus my mind, and get “out” of my head. Focus on my steps, focus on getting to the top regardless of what the weather does. I had to remind myself that whether the view is cloudy or not, it is still a massive accomplishment and I would hate myself if I turned back. I took about 10 minutes to gather my focus and continued onward. I climbed, I made it, and luckily the clouds parted just long enough for me to snap a picture of Everest.

It takes practice to focus the way I need to to be able to successfully climb a wall of summit a peak, and I am only human… some days just aren’t my day. The key is learning to push past whatever is holding you back to be able to focus when it really counts. If I really want to climb Everest and the other Seven Summits, I need to be 100% focused. I need to remember WHY I am doing it and I think the same can be said for anyone who has a goal they want to accomplish in life. Why do you want to do it? Hold onto that, focus that, and don’t let anything else get in your way.

What I Learned About Myself in Nepal

Report from 7/7/18

There are dozens of articles out there on trekking to EBC, reguarding “do’s and don’ts”, “things I wish I knew”, etc.

The reality is, none of that can really prepare you for the experience itself. I myself, have been dreaming of the day I could finally see Everest since I was about 9 years old. I studied everything. read every article, every forum, every blog….. and there were still surprises.

First off, the reality:

It seems like everyone always says they wish they trained more. I thought so too, but physically I did really well. My body and legs felt very strong. I didn’t have any issues with altitude sickness, but breathing up high (especially with asthma) is incredibly difficult. The trick is to just find your pace, and stick to it. It’s OKAY to go slow!

Also, if this is you’re first trip to Asia, or a developing country, you are almost guaranteed to get sick. Be prepared to eat the same half a dozen “safe” dishes in every teahouse… I watched my trekking partner eat whatever he wanted with no issues, but he had much more travel experience than me and was living in Bangkok where he was used to the bacteria common in Asia. I on the other hand, got food poisoning 3 different times. I was able to pinpoint which foods where the most likely culprits and I avoided them the rest of the trip. I was trying to play it safe eating vegetarian up there, but cheese was a bad idea, even vegetables themselves can be a risk if not cooked or washed properly. If you are a first timer, stick to pasta dishes, oatmeal, ramen, rice dishes, popcorn, and dal bhat (a traditional dish of rice and lentil soup). You will get incredibly tired of eating the same thing for 2 weeks, but it is the safest option.

Another piece of advice I once read about was to take multivitamins with you to make up for the lack of nutrients. I felt like this was helpful and I think this strategy also helped keep me from catching the “khumbu cough”.

This was my first time out of the country. I went from 1st world luxuries in the US, to the vastly different world of Nepal. My first night in Kathmandu was complete culture shock, and took some getting used to. (Read more about when I first arrived in KathmanduĀ here.)Ā There were a lot of emotional ups and downs on this trip. I learned a lot about myself on this trip… particularly things I didn’t expect.

I learned that dreams take more work than initially planned. It took me a lot longer to finally get a chance to trek to EBC than I wanted but in reality, I would not have been ready before now. This was step one in my complete dream to climb the Seven Summits. But when I finally got to see the Himalayas in person, that felt absolutely daunting. I began to realize how glorified, and “easy” documentaries and movies make Everest look. Everest is HUGE!! The mountain is scary, dark, and looming. The reality of the darkness this mountain carries really begins to sink in once finally seeing it in person. SO much death, pain, misery, and despair. Out of those who summit and live, many go through a personal hell to achieve that goal. They come home 30+lbs lighter, sun damage on their face, and may even lose a few fingers or toes to frostbite.

During my time in Nepal, I experienced only a small fraction of this and it was a lot harder than I expected. I lost close to 15lbs in total just in the 2 weeks I was in the mountains due to both traveler’s diarrhea and hiking 5-6 hours a day. Despite putting on sunscreen nearly every hour, I still maintained a pretty severe sunburn on my face. And on days I felt sick and exhausted, separation anxiety kicked in. As a kid, I spent a month each year at a summer camp in Colorado, happy to get away from my family and never had a problem with homesickness. This time I was leaving behind a husband, who is my rock in everything. Not being able to contact him when I was having a hard time was incredibly difficult. I began to really wonder if Everest and the rest of the Seven Summits was what I really wanted. It would mean spending money on years of training and climbing, surviving miserable trips full of pain, and discomfort, all for just one shot at the summit…. is it really worth all that trouble? Do I care enough? The answer is yes, however it is going to be A LOT harder than I expected… And honestly I’m a bit terrified.

On a bit of a lighter note, there is a special feeling and spiritual connection that has developed over the years for me when it comes to climbing high peaks; the Himalayas were no exception. I have known for years that I always felt closer to my deceased sister in the mountains, but being alone in the Himalayas gave me a much larger perspective on the matter.

On the summit of Kala Patthar with a photo of my sister Brooke

My favorite day of the entire trek was not the day we climbed Kala Patthar or went to EBC, it was the day we trekked from Dingboche to Lobuche. We had 360 degree views of the mountains that surrounded us, and we visited the Sherpa Memorial field. The mountains were the most beautiful I had ever seen, and I could feel how the memorial field was a very sacred place on the mountain. This was the day I could really feel that connection, but that wasn’t the only one. There were a lot of moments throughout the trek where I felt like I was really able to be myself in a spiritual way which was something I had been craving for a long time.

Growing up in a religious family brought up a lot of issues over the years. I felt like I couldn’t be myself. I felt like I was being forced into living expectations I couldn’t possibly live up to. Fear caused me to unfortunately hide how I felt for years, which contributed to depression, and my eating disorder after high school. I never really had the chance to come into my own until I was able to work through many of those issues through therapy and I began to look inside myself to figure out what I even believed in.

This trip really helped me cement some core beliefs on my spiritual side that had been lost nearly my entire life. I believe that personal spirituality, and your personal relationship with God (or whatever you believe) is far more important than the religion itself. A belief I personally feel like has been lost in many common religions today. This is not to bash on anyone that belongs to a religion and practices regularly, there is nothing wrong with that! There are a lot of genuine people that are members of a church. However, I have personally found a lot of hypocrisy in religion growing up, and I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. Religion is made up of people. People are human. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, no matter the religion, you can always find flaws. This is why your personal relationship with God is the most important. Being responsible for your actions, holding yourself accountable, no matter what they are, and just working on being a better person all the time is the best thing you can do, with religion in your life or not.

One thing I really loved about Nepal is that it is an incredibly spiritual country. You can find every type of person on the religious spectrum, such as monks praying at the stupas, non-practicing, and everything in between. But no matter who they are, everyone is nice, helpful and genuine. This has a lot to do with the Buddhist belief in Karma, but more than that, it is their culture and it was probably the most real place I have ever been in a spiritual sense. Simply put, people just want to help, and are trying to be good, whether they are Bhuddist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or something else. This is how everyone should be, this is how our would should be, and this was the best thing to learn about myself on my trek to EBC.

Eating Disorder Awareness: My Story

National Eating Disorder Awareness week is always the last week in Febuary and has become an important part of my life each year. Several years ago as part of my recovery, I decided to hold a 5K event to raise money for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) in an attempt to spread awareness of the deadliest mental illness. I nearly lost my life to my eating disorder and truly haveĀ the desire to shed a light of hope on mental disorders.

A few months ago I received an email from a representative atĀ Sovereign HealthĀ who caught a glimpse of my story and asked if they could interview me for an article. I agreed simply to share my story, not knowing that I would be officially honored during NEDAwareness week this year! I feel so touched and blessed to be able to have my story expand to other reaches of the country (and the world). The article was published and I still feel weird seeing my picture and story published on a nationally recognized site. However the responses so far have been overwhelming. I feel an outpouring of love and support from friends, family, and followers.

So I ask this to you to take a moment for Eating Disroder Awareness:Ā 

First, read the interview. My story covers details of a dark past and how I lost sight of the dreams I had as a child. The interview, titled; “Recovery Next Door: Learning to live in recovery from an eating disorder without shame” expands on my recovery process, which is an important key for anyone struggling with a mental illness. 

Second, take a moment to think of someone in your own life who may be struggling. Maybe it’s your sibling, mother, dear friend, or even yourself. Take a second to send them a message, or give them a call, just to say hello. A single gesture to show you care can go a long way to someone who might feel completely alone. 

Lastly, participate in NEDAwareness week which is the last week in Febuary each year! Use the hashtag #NEDAwareness and use theirĀ shareableĀ graphics and images on social media. You can share the article, you can share this page, you can share information on eating disorders found on theĀ NEDA website. There are also local events in every state all week long. Just search their sitesĀ event page.

* * *

My message is HOPE. It has always been hope. Hope for the future, hope for recovery, hope for happiness, hope for triumph. I quote one of my favorite movies, A Knights Tale, when I say: “Hope guides me. It’s what get’s me through the day, and especially the night.” If this rings true for you, I promise you, it always rings true for me. Now that I consider myself recovered, my hope shifts towards my dreams of the Seven Summits. My hope shines on my current day-to-day as I complete my degree, and hope that I can find time and energy to train once this enormous assignment is over. One day at a time, let hope be your guide.

Left: during my ED, Right: on the summit of Kala Patthar, Nepal 18,519′

GOALS: Seven Summits in Seven Years (and Beyond!)

Report from 12/27/16

UPDATED 6/5/18

In the long term, a plan needed to be formulated for my biggest and most ambitious of goals: The Seven Summits.

When I decided I wanted to be teach high school, I knew the pay wouldn’t be great, but I would have summers off to go play. However, climbing season in Nepal is not June to August… it is right in the middle of school testing season. Whether or not I take a year off or find a long term sub when the time comes, who knows… I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. However, the rest of the list I can knock out during summers or Christmas break which works well in my favor! When I start hitting the big boys, I’m going to NEED to figure out some logistics; yet another bridge to cross in due time.

SO, without further ado, I give you my climbing timeline for completing The Seven Summits in the next Seven years!

Year 0- COMPLETE!  2017: I am calling this year 0 because my summer consisted of job searching for teaching positions and I spent a majority of the year being beyond broke. Realistic planning for adventures could not be finalized until I found a job. Since I now have a teaching position: this year’s goal is complete!

Year 1- COMPLETE! June 2018: Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar (18,519 ft/ 5,644.5 m) Because I was itching so badly to Everest up close and in person, and while I’m there!

Year 2- July 2019: FIRST SEVEN SUMMIT! Kilimanjaro, Africa (19,341’/5,895 m) I am booked with Eco-Africa Climbing on a Women Only Climb! #womenclimbkili!

Year 3- July 2020: Plans to move during summer break 2020 are in the works. That being said, there is no money for international climbing this year, but there is wiggle room for a trip to Washington to once again attempt Mount Rainier! (14,411’/4,392m)

Year 4- July 2021: Mount Elbrus, Europe (18,510’/5,642 m) I plan to go to this beautiful Russian volcano.

December 2021: Aconcagua, South America (22,841’/6,961 m) I actually thought about climbing this one first because I am so anxious and impatient to get climbing. But after looking at it from a realistic perspective, we are going to try to buy our first house in the first year or two of me teaching. My husband should graduate from college by 2020 and make the financial load significantly easier, so putting it off until later was the smarter thing to do.

Year 5– December 2022: Mount Kosciuszko, Australia (7,310’/2,228 m) For those who don’t know, there are two main lists for the Seven Summits, the Bass List and the Messner List which each have a different summit for the Australian Continent. I decided on doing both peak but am starting with the Bass List for a few reasons… One, being from Utah, and growing up skiing Snowbird, then working at Snowbird, and meeting Dick Bass personally, I feel a special connection to the Bass list. Two, Puncak Jaya, also known as Carstensz Pyramid, is extremely expensive and difficult to get to as it’s deep in the Filipino jungle and in a war zone. And three, my husband and I have always wanted to go to New Zealand, so we are planning a vacation for our 10 year anniversary down south with a quick pit stop to Australia to take a stroll up the easiest of the Seven Summits and visit a koala sanctuary!

Year 6- June/July 2023: Denali, North America (20,322’/6,194 m) I am very excited for this one. Alaska is beautiful and if it wasn’t so freaking expensive, I would probably climb this one earlier too.

Year 7- April-June 2024: Mount Everest, Asia (29,029’/8,848 m) 7 years of prep for the tallest mountain on earth. I plan to ascend the North Col route from Tibet. There are pros and cons to each side but the crowds are smaller on the Tibet side as permits are limited, which also makes them more expensive… The ONLY thing harder than climbing Everest, is funding Everest.

December 2024: Vinson Massif , Antarctica (16,077’/4,900 m) I saved what I deem to be the most epic for last. (as well as the most expensive… yes more expensive than Everest) It may not be nearly as high as some of the others, but it has an incredible amount of character. Deep in the frozen wasteland of Antarctica, this summit has the lowest amount of resources available to it. There are no cities in Antarctica. There is a camp, only accessible by a 4 hour plane ride from Chile. You have to drag all your gear around by sled, and it is a very cold and lonely place. I am just glad the sun is up for 24 hours down there during that time of year. I can’t imagine how dark and desolate it would be. (those poor penguins). A successful summit bid by this timeline would mean I complete the Bass Seven Summits just before my 35th birthday!

BONUS: The 8th Seven Summit for Year 8– June 2025: Puncak Jaya, also known as Carstensz Pyramid (16,024 ft/4,884m) This will complete Messner List and I will be part of an Elite crowd that has done both lists. This is the most technical of all the Seven Summits, therefore completion of the Messner list is more rare.

BONUS: Explorer’s Grand Slam: The Geographic North and South Poles! The more I work towards my goals, the more I wonder how far I can actually go! After following Colin O’Brady as he recently crossed Antartica solo and unaided, I have been seriously interested in exploring the poles; and I don’t just plan to fly to the pole, I want to complete what is known as “The Last Degree”: A 60 naudical mile ski trek from the 89th degree to the pole hauling a sled full of gear behind me!

As much as I would like to, I can’t guarantee this list’s completion in 7 years, and it will probably be adjusted as time goes on. There are simply too many factors out of my control; politics in foreign countries, unforeseen budget factors, weather, etc. But what I can guarantee is that I will personally strive for each one to the best of my ability until they are complete no matter what it takes.

People ask me all the time, “Why do you want to climb Everest?” “What is the point in putting yourself through physical anguish to reach the top?” In short reply it’s easier to just say “I don’t know” or “it’s hard to explain”. But the reality is I don’t simply have one reason for why I climb, I have several. I climb because I feel a very real, very spiritual connection in the mountains. My sister passed away when I was a kid, and when I summited my first 14er at the age of 13, I dedicated the climb to my baby sister, and ever since then those high peaks make me feel closer to her. After years of suffering through crippling depression and a dangerous eating disorder, completing something this huge is monumental to me. It’s simply proving to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. I do it for me, and I hope to set an example for others like me. That’s why I write this silly blog. My biggest goal of all, is to simply share my story in hopes that maybe someone else who is suffering, can look inside of themselves and realize that they don’t have to live in despair; they can do anything they set their mind to. It doesn’t have to be climbing, it could be something as simple as learning an instrument they have always wanted to learn, travel to a corner of the world they have always longed to see, or following a career passion they never dreamed was possible. As soon as you are okay with yourself and who you are, and you no longer care what society tells you what you should be or what your parents think you should be, and you start living your life for yourself, then you will be truly happy. You will be able to Conquer Yourself.

Keep up on my climbs! Click here to check out my current successful summit list!

Solo Trekking

Finding myself in the woods.

Report from 10/7/15

Over the summer, I struggled through some life bumps in the road. After 6 years in therapy, I was finally getting to the bottom of my deepest darkest inner demons that had resulted in my depression as a teen, and my eating disorder during adolescence. This was that stuff no one ever wants to look at, let alone work on. As the school year began to close in on me, I decided I desperately needed some alone time in the mountains and not just a hike by myself, but an overnight trek into a quiet place where I could decompress, de-stress, and get in touch with that nature-linked spiritual side. I had hiked alone plenty sure, but I had never slept out in the wild alone. It was sure to be an interesting night.

Life delayed my solo trip for a few weeks, but once school started I knew I needed to make it happen before my brain felt like it was going to explode. A few weeks ago in mid-September, I embarked on my night alone in the wild. I picked a beautiful spot, in the saddle between Devil’s Castle and Sugarloaf Peak Utah; a saddle between two peaks that I had been curious about camping in for years.

I made it to the saddle just after sunset. The hike itself only took me two hours, but I had a much later start than I had hoped that day. I pitched my tent in a small wind shelter built out of slate, cooked my food, and went to lay down in my tent.

That night was NOT a quiet as I hoped…. The weather forecast was calm and clear, but just after dusk the wind picked up. Sleeping at 11,000 feet, I knew there was a chance of wind, but the normal wind pattern for this area of Utah has southerly and westerly winds which the shelter was built to block out. What I encountered were winds from the North winds which would blow into the doorway opening of the shelter and swirl around in my small little nook. My tent was SO LOUD, and the wind didn’t die down until after midnight. I felt myself digressing to my childhood ways of hiding under my sleeping bag from the wind as I slept alone, on a mountain, in the wind. At around 2am I was awoken by howling in the night. The saddle I was located on straddled 2 valleys with great acoustics and full of wildlife. I could hear the howling and laughter of coyotes but I couldn’t tell which valley the sound came from or how far away they were. I continued to hide in my sleeping bag wishing for the sun to come up. It was a new moon, and with a thin layer of cloud cover, the night was dark and empty. I had never felt more alone in my life. Not a star in the sky, no one to comfort me but myself. It was a test of strength of mind and a test of self.

I woke up the next morning just before the sun rose. It was calm, cool and the most refreshing feeling in the world (despite my lack of sleep). Every dark, lonely feeling from the night before was immediately washed away with the sun’s morning rays. I sat on the ridge overlooking the Albion Basin below me. The Autumn colors were glowing at first light and I felt that indescribable feeling of awe as I watched the sunrise. After about a half hour of just enjoying the view, I decided to greet the sun in the best way I could think of that had been inspired by a wandering friend… šŸ˜‰

Something about that moment was awe-inspiring. (I don’t know what it is, but if you have never gotten naked in nature, I highly recommend it.) You feel completely free in every way imaginable. No worries, no stress, nothing to constrict you both mentally and physically. You really can embrace the world around you and truly become one with nature.

After my hippie moment, I finished off my morning by trekking up Sugarloaf Peak. It was a short hike from my campsite and it was a great way to finish off my experience. I had climbed these mountains countless times over and over but had never seen them quite like this. It was exactly what I needed and left me feeling rejuvenated for everything that was still in front of me. The greatest lesson learned in the whole experience was that despite whatever darkness or challenges you may come across in your life, you can make it through it and will be greeted with light on the other side.

~Sometimes you just have to get out there and get lost in the world~