I’m sweating, and sweat falling itches my eyes. I can only see my hands pushing my legs, and when I raise a little the view I see the ass of Rickey, a bit higher I can see the rocky slope we are power hiking and far the summit. But the hard breath made me look down to my hands pushing my legs. “Come on Rickey! Why are you pushing so hard? Can we take a break?” I seems to think. But not, we don’t break, because we all push. Now I see also Jim ass. Some breath, take air and run. My calf will never love me, they hurts. Some break, for less than a second to clear the sweat of my face, let’s the legs walk slow for a second when we turn around on the summit. Now, rock and roll. I don’t roll on the downhill but the Rock don’t finish on the line, it continues all the night around, because you know, laws are, but we are far from where they write them here. Coming from a Europe where trail running is intoxicated about the discussions of what is the “Trail Spirit”, the association and formalization of the races and to take the activity to philosophical and elevate discussions is fresh air to come to race in Alaska, they give a damn what happens out of here, they have their own races, no stars, just runners, their own rules (or lack of rules) and they only enjoy to train hard on the mountains, push as hard as they can (and they are so strong) on the races, and drink on the same way after. An that’s what is all about.
When someone gets to pontificate in something probably he will try to protect his oeuvre and the way to protect is to stand on the standards with which the oeuvre was done, and convince the generations to follow his rules. But, It’s 4:30 in the morning, it’s always 4:30 in the morning, as Charles Bukowski said. We are focused on our trail, and because the effort to concentrate on doing well, or because the religious passion on our discipline, or the fear to fail outside what we know, we keep the eyes on the trail, on our hands pushing the legs. And sometimes, someone stops to breath and wake up his eyes, take a look around, quit the trail and break the rules. We are following the “rules” of a man who run by foot a horses race, a man who climbs 8848m without oxygen and fix ropes, a man who stopped putting pitons to put his hands on the cracks. We are following the rules of the ones who broke the rules.
It’s not always easy to run faster, to climb harder, to hike higher, but accessible if you focus in. It is a necessary process of learning. But is much harder to turn around and do something that is not faster or harder or higher but more difficult and aesthetic. Because the game out there (call Alpinism, Pyreneeism, practicing activities on the mountains or why the fuck I’m up here) is to train, be strong and perform in a 50% and imagine on a other 50%, and for this other half is needed to have not rules, not a trail to follow, and the eyes open.
Some weeks ago I cross few times on the mountains Simon Elias (Mountain guide and elite alpinist, author of “Bisexual Alpinism” and doing a speaking called “the value of failure”) he said “we should do something together, something challenging for both out of our areas” and the day after he send me a text message: God morning! I think conditions are good. A bizarre idea could be…” It was out of season and conditions, although they looked good, wasn’t. None of us known the wall and we get lost several times. But what is interesting about this sport is the the power from uncertainty, to have a big probability of failing. To fail or to success don’t matters much, I learned a lot climbing with him, and the window’s open to new views.
Surely it would not have come up if before a Dean Potter had not put in practice his “hybridization of the outdoor arts.” We are in a beautiful moment, plenty of ideas out and with people motivated looking failure. When a Ueli Steck takes his bike and running shoes for linking all the 4000’, When Alex Honnold trains endurance to do the Fitz Roy Traverse, When Tom Ballard do the 6 North faces on winter, Marco De Gasperi runs on Ortles, Vivian Bruchez links steep downhills on a crossing or Julien Irilli climb technical faces to get down paragliding etc, probably the most inspiring adventure of this summer is Yann Borgnet and Yoann Joly crossing from Corsica to Slovenia by foot and climbing. We are in a moment where the disciplines are tools and the inspirations are flowing. Let us inspire, not to follow the same path but to look up and begin to imagine.
picture by @Dean_Leslie in Alaska