Alone, Not Alone

I gave a 25 minute slideshow about my Alaska trip to some middle schoolers out towards the suburbs.  I think it went well. I believe I told my story okay.

A colleague started the first half of the presentation describing the myriad types of climbing. I provided the ‘alpine mountaineering’ aspect in context of my trip in June 2011 to Denali. The students are reading a novel this Summer about a young mountaineer and his travails.

What stuck with me from my walk down the upper glacier from the camp at 14k feet was this feeling of ‘alone/not aloneness’. Going downhill is always relatively easy, finding comfort in a cold uncaring universe is certainly more challenging.

I was in a white-out cloud and the snow was deep, there were bamboo wands every hundred feet or so, I didn’t have a tent. Looking back I could see my tracks. Looking forward there was whiteness. I followed the wands. I found an old camp at 9,8k or so a few miles later. Ski tracks emerged. The crevasses began to show themselves more frequently. I spotted a camp on the lower glacier by the North East Fork. I had to jump a couple of questionable snow bridges. I saw a red tent, and another, they were speaking Spanish. By the red tent there were skis. I was on snowshoes. I would wait for the Tennesseeans. Eventually they’d be here. I would join their rope and cross the lower glacier before dawn.

A Bigger Cloud