For all the adventure, the beauty, the excitement of an expedition, for me nothing compares to opening the door to your home and having that instantaneous deep appreciation for the people and pets who waited for us and the life that will resume after the gear has been scrubbed, the laundry done and the fourth shower completed. As I often say to people who ask about summits, if you get to the top and you don’t come back, it’s simply not a success.
For the 2017 RMI Elbrus Northside Team, it was indeed a success, in all its forms. A success because once again mountaineering proved that complete strangers can mesh together in the most uncomfortable and challenging of environments to work as a cohesive unit. A success because despite the very “Type A” personality traits that are associated with climbing there is also time and again the need to accept what is in fact beyond control, to roll with the punches, to see one’s own imperfections and strive to be the best version of oneself. A success because there is time yet again to prove life without a cell phone and a computer, or constant noise is a life worth living and maybe it will be sensible to hold onto that feeling, even a little bit, even as we all re-enter daily routines.
On August 10, 2017 it was extremely satisfying to have every teammate make it to the top of Europe’s highest summit, smiling, on a day so picture perfect, warm and void of wind that the danger one least expected was to overheat! Our team included a dairy farmer from Iowa, and his son from Texas, a North Carolina man newly retired, but still pushing limits, A technology guru from Seattle on his first expedition, an outdoorsman and media producer from Fargo, ND. Me, with my love of big open spaces and lastly, my dear friend and climbing partner Robin, who trained so hard in the lead up to the climb that she literally crushed it the whole way.
Standing with the Robin Hood flag and “carrying” all the friends and family who made it possible for me and Robin to raise $27,000 for Robin Hood’s fight against poverty was something to really smile about. oing what you love while helping others is a way to live because there can only be upside!
So now, as summer on the East End of Long Island draws to a close, and the crowds fade, and the light shifts on the water, I see new adventures ahead. They are local, they are at sea level, but they will require of me the same traits up high: to persevere, to grow, to adapt, to be part of a community, to work hard and to embrace what is good.
Special thanks to RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and Mike Uchal for their exceptional skills and leadership.