The previous post has opened the ranking of the five most significant travel moments for me. It’s time for a second story. The story of my mountain conquests and struggles, both mental and physical, to achieve the goal. It is time for you to meet one of my plentiful life loves – Mt. Fitz Roy.
Me and the tent – nothing else needed
This extremely important event for me took place only a few months ago. But I still feel like it was yesterday. This is my first wild camping in the mountains. Only me, my tent, mountain peaks and glaciers. All my life I came out of the belief that something like this requires huge preparation, appropriate equipment, or even a companion. But this turned out not to be true. Maybe my love for breaking the patterns made it so tempting. Additionally, whatever would happen — I would be the only person to be accounted for any kind of consequences. Whether it would be a danger or a great satisfaction from that decision — I did not have to share it with anyone. It can be said that when it comes to sensations, especially extreme ones, I am very greedy.
I can share my knowledge and memories — but I want to have emotions for myself.
Climbing alone and setting up a “camp” seemed to be a great decision at first. However, with reaching the summit, the sun setting down and the trail becoming deserted, I began to ask myself: is it really reasonable? I knew not. But nothing reasonable ever brought me so much euphoria and adrenaline as things on the border with stupidity. So I kept walking, with a knowledge, that whatever would happen now, I would not turn back.
But how come “you can climb higher”??
At the summit, I had met my friends who accompanied me for a moment before I was left out completely alone. On the way back we came across people going down from the top of the mountain (Mount Fitz Roy – 3 505m high). They had ropes, climbing shoes, small backpacks and nothing more. I wondered, where did they come from? All touristic trails ended in the place where I was standing.
It turned out that the encountered people were returning from the literal top of the mountain (from the top that can be seen in the pictures). I looked at the top of the mountain. I looked at them. Then again at the top. Almost like a child looking left, right, left before crossing the street. I tried to connect the dots. My brain went into overdrive.
In general, I realize that this kind of people exists.
And by this kind of people I mean adventure-hungry people, people who are not afraid of the worst conditions and are nothing like typical tourists. However, it is only when you meet these people in person, when you touch their clothes and skin, when you can see that they are the same as we are, that they also have hands, legs and breathe – only then it hits you how real they are. We often receive information about various expeditions or missions from the press and media. However, it is nothing more than an information like “there was another school shootout in the US” or like “Central American migrants were abducted and raped”. This is the type of information that does not directly affect us, so it seems to be distant, unreal. It is difficult to realize how much time, effort and dedication it costs to put in life such undertakings.
Clash with reality
It was the moment when I think I understood it.
A moment, in which, standing under this mountain, under the snowy peak, I realized that you could climb it. And that a lot of people do such things long before the world finds out about them and long before they become recognizable like Andrzej Bargiel.
I didn’t plan to dwell on this subject, but it really struck me. Probably because my ego felt like it was falling from the top of Mt. Fitz Roy straight to the bottom. I realized that there are so many things that I haven’t done yet that will give me my beloved adrenaline. That day I decided to go back someday and also climb to the top of Mt. Fitz Roy. I’ll take off my crayfish, sit in a sleeping bag, put down my goggles and look down at Laguna De Los Tres, where I once camped as a kid and thought I had conquered the world.
I did it!
But coming back to the kid who is just about to set up a tent by the Laguna De Los Tres. You must know that this day I really thought I was omnipotent. But it doesn’t matter. Not now.
After long persuasion from my friends, I decided that I would set up my tent next to the lagoon – instead of camping and the rock which was situated several dozen meters higher, where either:
a) I would be blown off by a strong wind during my sleep,
b) or I would turn into a barrel of ice.
Rationality won this time. I set up my piteous tent and looked around – it was already dark and it was slowly getting cold. The wind blew and my skin trembled. Whatever was about to happen now, I was on my own. The nearest camping was about an hour from where I was.
I remember very well how I was completely overcome by the excitement. There was not a living soul within kilometers. I felt fulfilled, I felt in place. The blood flowing in my veins felt like it was almost vibrating. I realized: “I did it.”
I did it well enough for all my doubts to disappear. The doubt about rightness of the route that I have chosen has suddenly left. I have this cruel tendency to doubt in everything whenever I do something against the tide. Whenever I start doing something new I’m always overwhelmed by doubts: but why? Is it worth it? And what if it doesn’t give you any satisfaction? However these doubts always disappear sooner or later to give away to this awaited satisfaction, self-fulfillment and valency of what I did. ALWAYS.
Imagine me now, dressed in 6 upper layers, 4 lower layers, 4 pairs of socks and 2 hats, wrapped in a sleeping bag, eating a banana (given to me by this out-of-nowhere-traveller) and waiting for night sky. Satisfied, full, happy, admiring the majesty of glaciers, which are literally at your fingertips. I didn’t need anything more to be happy.
Icing on the cake!
At least I thought so. I confronted this thought when a glowing and sharp light emerged from behind the uplands around me. It immediately disappointed me. I didn’t want to share this scenery with anyone. But 10 minutes passed and the source of the light did not move a millimeter towards me. Surprisingly it moved upwards. It took me a while to realize that it was a full moon.
I sat still for 15 seconds until I shed a tear of happiness. I happen to become very emotional at such moments. It was a reward for my efforts. The award, which I did not take into account in my calculations and turned out to be a nail in the coffin of my doubts. I took all the photographic equipment I brought with me and ran, yes, I ran (!) up. I wanted to get a view of the entire lagoon and the city which was visible from the other side. My aching muscles that had barely allowed me to set up my tent and extreme exhaustion – it all suddenly didn’t matter. It stopped existing.
And I was running up. Holding the camera in one hand, the other one belaying against sliding rocks and pebbles. I ran until I reached the top, until I was out of breath. And once I was on the top, I could see every little detail. It wouldn’t be possible without the intense light given by the full moon. I spent about two hours alone with my camera and the spectacular night sky.
When I got back to the tent at one o’clock in the morning, I struggled with falling asleep a lot. I tried to silence all the emotions that accompanied me throughout the day. It wasn’t easy at all.
What will people think?
While I was asleep, I could barely hear the ringing alarms informing me, that another nap would deprive me of the view of Mt. Fitz Roy in the light of the rising sun. It was my objective when I decided to wild camp. A mountain peak colored in all shades of red and orange was the goal for dozens of hikers who set off from their campsites at 4/5 in the morning to climb 400 meters of an extremely steep hill and admire Mt. Fitz Roy waking up to life. So when I crawled out of the tent, I was surprised that there was absolutely nobody over the lagoon. It wasn’t until I gained a full view that I realized that on the upland (which I climbed yesterday) a row of ants, commonly called travelers, were standing.
At first I felt stupid. I felt like I was on some TV Show and my every move was watched. “Attention, our participant gets up!”. I sensed envy on their part (but let’s not forget that they were the size of ants, so everything that was going on in my head was happening only in my head). I thought: “they are probably jealous that I was so smart and sneaky and decided to sleep by the mountain so that I could enjoy this view in the morning without exhausting climbing.”
And then I realized that it was only a reflection of my fears: “what will people think?”.
Let them think what they want!
There was always this fear that I was doing something wrong, that I was doing something “socially incorrect”.
And indeed, this is not something common, something normal. It is assumed that people going to a university go there just to study. Or when traveling, people want to see nice places and eat some local snacks. Therefore, whenever I was doing something considered by me “socially incorrect”, I was feeling guilty. Even if it was an amazing experience. Even if in the end I didn’t regret a single second nor a single decision. Sometimes we forget, that we know what are we doing. That we know deeply in our hearts that the decisions we make will be best for us. It is a matter of fighting social expectations and archetypes that are so difficult to ran away from.
Then I realized that there was nothing wrong with what I did. This was the best decision I could make for myself. I slept under the stars at 2,000 m. height, admiring the beautiful peak in the full moon and woke up with a view of the first rays illuminating this Mt. Fitz Roy peak. And I had all this only for myself. I made a decision that made me step out of my comfort zone. I made a decision which was difficult and make me have plenty of doubt. But it paid off. And that’s the only thing that matters.
The gap between a dream and a goal is in your hands
I experienced the most beautiful feeling at the very end. A sense of self-fulfillment and the ability to face the consequences, whatever they may be. I packed my tent, sleeping bag, backpack and started heading back. I passed all those people who, enjoying the view of the mountain in red colors, were just starting their breakfasts – their rewards for this intense morning effort. They looked at me and I looked at them. And as I passed them, I realized that nothing was impossible. That whenever I set myself a goal, I will be able to achieve it. And that I can draw strength from myself. I am able to set my own paths. And my own paths are the thing that gives me the most satisfaction in my life.
What is the lesson from this?
This post is dedicated to everyone who has ever thought that they are not self-sufficient. That they are not emotionaly self-sufficiency or that they don;t have resources to deal with something. We need to be aware that there is no magic person who will give us happiness. Or the magical path of life which is a secret recipe for the happiness. There is no such thing as “emotions that we must feel”, “needs that we can have”. Sometimes it happens that there is not a single person who will be encouraging when it comes to your idea. But know that doesn’t mean anything. If you want to do something, nothing stands in the way.
What counts is what you feel is good.
Because living someone’s advice or ideas can only burn you out.
The case looks exactly the same with travelling. If you feel that you want something badly, don’t let yourself be convinced that you can’t do it or it doesn’t make sense. Because it makes sense to you. And you can do it if only you wish to.