DENALI: 7 SEAS 7 SUMMITS RECORD ATTEMPT CONTINUES
Photo by Brian Carlin
I’ve been sitting on the couch most the day, cozied up next to the fire, ticking off things on my ‘to do’ list. I’m currently in Park City, Utah with Sally, my former teammate from Team SCA (the last all-female initiative in the Volvo Ocean Race). Her living room is beginning to look more like basecamp with all my bits of kit strewn about as we re-examine each piece. I am so incredibly excited to get this next expedition underway, the fourth mountain in my world record attempt, but I am equally terrified. A myriad of questions and doubt swell and circulate throughout my conscious daily. I think my background in extreme challenges gives me a certain level of confidence moving forward but those experiences are also humbling. I am intimately familiar with how difficult these challenges can be. So many factors which lead to ‘success’, are truly out of your control. There is an oxymoron at play with people who spend much of their time immersed within mother nature; many are inherently pedantic with the things they can control, yet manage to relinquish control to mother nature when the time comes.
I’ve tried very hard to be as physically prepared as possible. Beginning in January, I spent 6 weeks training in Chamonix, France. While in Chamonix I was presented an opportunity to go to California to trial for a spot with the America’s Cup team, Stars and Stripes. The abrupt shift, mentally and physically between the two sports was a challenge but an opportunity like that is not to be missed. Sailing has funded my climbing project up to this point and is still very much a part of my life as a passion and a career.
It was a great few weeks out in California and then I headed to Baja, Mexico for more sailing. It was quality time with very special people who’ve become more like family after sailing and racing together for 6 years. Leaving them and heading into my final weeks of preparation for Denali left me very reflective about the challenge on the horizon and the quality humans and experiences l have been blessed with. Normal life can be very distracting so I appreciate these big challenges because they force me to slow down and reflect. I am so so lucky and incredibly grateful for the life and opportunities I’ve had. I want to reiterate that here as I sometimes struggle to express this even when I feel it.
So how do I manage my biggest challenges? My personal methodology comes down to breaking things into the smallest elements possible, accomplishing one thing at a time that continues to work toward the larger goal. The application of this has lent itself to me many times but the truth is my personal attention to detail is painful. I will literally spend days researching each item I plan to use on expeditions. I know how many calories are contained in my homemade trail mix per ounce (thanks mom), and I agonized over choosing what I felt to be the perfect size tube of toothpaste (those of you who know me are shaking your head up and down right now saying “yes, yes this sounds like you”). I have spent countless hours smashing myself in the gym and in training with the affirmation that I will never be strong enough for the challenges ahead. What this attention to detail means to me is that when I land on the Kahiltna Glacier, at the base of Denali, I will know I gave myself every chance at being successful. By working my ass off I have prepared the things I can control so that I can willingly be at the mercy of the mountain, mother nature, and the things I cannot. I am fiercely driven and passionate to accomplish my goals but I humbly acknowledge that Denali will be one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. The cold, the load carries (up to 100 lbs per person the first few days), the weather; I find these all incredibly intimidating but I am mentally ready to dig in.
Even with the acknowledgment of fear and intimidation, I do these things. Not to spite them but because of them. Because each time I’ve come out the other side of a big scary goal- the accomplishment is the biggest reward I’ve ever experienced. I’m not special; I’m driven. I’m not some amazing athlete, I try hard and give myself the freedom to follow my dreams. When acknowledging my own fortune in pursuing these challenges, I am reminded of those whose daily struggles are a part of their existence. 1 in 9 people worldwide does not have access to safe and clean drinking water, resulting in the death of more than 800 children each day. Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease. We as the developed world can do more and that is why I’ve partnered with World Hope International. World Hope works daily with vulnerable and exploited communities to alleviate poverty, suffering, and injustice… >>Read the full blog