The Mountain Within

It doesn’t have to be high. Its path doesn’t have to lead straight up to the top. Most probably it has loads of viewing points on the way. Sometimes landslides. Fallen trees. Avalanches. Occasional earthquakes. Streams. Dried rivers. Dark woods. Sunny meadows. Sharp peaks. Alpine pastures.

My mountain within is rising higher and higher. Sometimes I see the peak. Only to realise there is another peak over it. It grows the same way I’m growing. It is a pleasant journey. Accompanied by big smile. Big tears. Some freezing cold. Some sweat. The only mountain I want to conquer. Knowing the way up is the way to conquer it. Not reaching the top.

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Chamonix running season started and my monthly trips will yet again ruin my budget. But as long as I’m able to pay the rent and buy the food and some 12th pair of shoes, it is something I love to spend my money on. Apparently, I should be adult and have savings account. Instead of that I spend all my money on flight tickets and planning a trip lights the fire in my eyes. Every. Single. Time.

Some people spend 100 quid in pub for one night. I spent that money on return tickets to Geneva. And then EasyBus. Walking from the bus stop. Opening the wooden doors. And another set of doors. Turning on the main switch. And I’m home. Quiet buzzing of the fridge. Comfy bed. Big fridge with little food. Water on the night table next to the bed. I’ve packed the backpack. Put clothes for tomorrow in small pile. Shoes. Poles. Alarm clock. And good night. Weekend started.

Exploring new paths. Returning to old trails. Climbing the same hill. But this time stronger? Warm soft spring air. Sunshine. First flowers. Snow on the trails. Lose rocks. Pine trees. Streams. Inner smile shines. Heart sings. Soul is being fed. It is not always beautiful. And no, it is not always easy. And sometimes you just want to get down from that mountain. But suddenly there is ibex. And another one. Quietly looking at you. And another one. They are moving slowly around you, observing if you represent any danger. I was never religious but encountering herd of wild animals in the middle of the woods, is something sacred. It almost feels holy. They walk past me. Looking at me. I walk as quietly as them. We walk together. It doesn’t take longer than a minute. One suddenly runs off and rest follows. Wish I could run with them. Wild, free, strong. Without needing a path. I stay in the same place for few more minutes. Breathing in the moment. No, I didn’t stopped the watch.

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Sunday, new day. Another glorious sunshine. I like to believe that I’m good luck to these mountains. I always bring sunshine. Vertical k for breakfast. Feels easier than ever before. I’m super happy. Marmots chasing each other on the meadow. View over Mont Blanc. Everything is perfect. Waiting on the corner for Rachel, I take my phone out to take picture. Quick check on facebook. Heart sunk. Into the empty space I shout out loud “what?!”. Then I sit down and staring at my phone the tears are streaming down my cheeks. Ueli Steck passed away doing what he loved most. On that damn Everest. I read it three times. I still can’t believe it. Rest of the day spent on trails is mixture between joy of movement and digesting the news.

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In the evening I finally go and visit the cemetery in Chamonix. It seems appropriate. Walking down the alley where mountaineers rest forever. Rather than murmur plates, their graves are simple rocks. Often decorated with ice axes. Pictures of them. Young and smiling. With sun in their faces, smiling eyes. I tend to think it is better to live your life fully. To die doing what you love most. Being here, I’m not that sure. You don’t live only for yourself. You live also for others. Lots being said about risks in mountains. About the dangers. But let’s talk about joy as well. About leading by example. People who truly love mountains don’t go there to prove anything to anyone. They are conquering the mountains within.

“You can’t fight nature.” You are only human. Human that in comparison to mountain is small, fragile and mortal. Mountains were here long before us. They will be here long after us. We think we can dominate the world. You can rule people. If they follow. You can destroy nature. But you can’t knock down a mountain.

Build the mountains within you. Let them grow. Don’t expect them to be beautiful. Because it doesn’t have to be easy to be worth it.

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