the climb1

George Mallory, one of the early mountain climbers who scaled Mount Everest in the 1920’s, and disappeared just a few hundred meters from the summit (his body was only discovered in 1999, 75 years later), is most famous for a famous saying. When asked ‘Why climb Mount Everest?’, he responded ‘Because it is there!’

Legions of climbers since have taken up this mantra. Many people have uses that saying to push themselves to the limit. I’ve seen in the past few years many people locally who have taken up running, and have even begun to run marathons….because they can! And good for them.

We were in Jasper, Alberta for a week last summer, my family and I. It is a place we retreat to escape work, and enjoy the pleasures of the mountains and wildlife. We saw bears, big-horned sheep, and plenty of elk. We also happened to be there during the worst infestation of mosquitos in living memory. It rained every single day in June, and we arrived when it was 33 degrees Celsius, perfect breeding conditions for those little vampires. But, being Canadian, this was just a speed bump for us.

Since we’ve been coming here, my youngest son Mackie has been wanting to go to the top of Whistler’s Mountain. There is a cable car that brings you up, and although I am afraid of heights, I sucked it up and went. Twice. It was absolutely gorgeous. However, Mackie wanted to go to the very top. There is a trail that goes from the landing to the summit. It didn’t look like a big deal, and so I did what every dad does when their kid asks and you just aren’t quite listening to him; I said ‘Why not?’

Now, for those who know me, you consequently are aware that I’m not in tip-top shape. Compared to several years ago, I am, but compared to people who actually exercise a lot, well…..not so much. Round is a shape, right? I’m definitely round. But, as George Mallory said, we will climb it, because it is there!

Of course, upon reaching the cable car station, and looking up the rest of the hill, I thus realized just what I was getting into. The people who were on the trail were either very small, or very far. It turns out they were not small. It’s an illusion because the mountain you are on is so huge. The trail is 1.2 km uphill, and not just a little uphill. But I had promised. My son Alex decided he’d wait in the lounge for us and write in his journal. He’s a smart boy.

It took us about 50 minutes to make the climb. I, walking gingerly and saving my breath for climbing, Mackie jumping about like a baby goat, talking non-stop about the lovely scenery, video games, programming, what colour his shoes were, his up-coming high school adventures, etc. We stopped 10 times on the way up. To take pictures, of course. And maybe to rest a wee bit. I had to pick up the pace a bit when some much older couples were passing us by.

And then….we were there!!! We had reached the summit. I think I was more proud of keeping a promise to Mackie than actually making the climb. Obviously, it’s not that difficult if so many people make the trek. But the promise to a 13-year old who loves being with his dad as much as his dad loves being with him is of higher importance.

The icing on the cake was, while making our descent, Mackie had to take a break. Evidently his skinny legs aren’t as muscular as

 

his father’s. Sometimes, it pays to be fat.the climb2

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