Introducing The First Diaries, a weekly column in which one Coloradan documents her misadventures, trials, and triumphs in the outdoors as she tries a new activity or adventure each week. With humor, practical advice, and some serious real talk, our goal is to make the outdoor space a little less intimidating and a little more fun for all of us.

Don’t worry; I’ll spare you a cringe-worthy essay about conquering the big mountain—you know, the Rocky kind and the metaphorical peak within ourselves.

No, this week I’d like to do something a little different. I’m going to tell you about something one of my favorite people did for me, and why it’s so important.

I had just finished a late yoga class after a long summer day. A girlfriend and I passed each other in the studio hallway. We chatted a bit and she told me about the epic next day she had planned: she, her boyfriend, and a few buddies were going to climb Jasper Peak, a thirteener in Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. It was supposed to be a beautiful hike, but the route had no trail and might require some bushwacking (sometimes up steep hills), scrambling over skree fields, hopping over creeks—you get it. But being very well seasoned Colorado-types, they were prepared and confident they’d summit (get all the way to the top).

Wow, I remember thinking. This chick is cool.

And at the same time, I remember feelings of uncoolness and inadequacy bubble up from the pit of my stomach. I hadn’t done anything like that before; at least not at that scale.

But then this girl did something extremely rad:

“Do you want to come with us?” she asked me.

I nodded my head so fast I sent my 5th-7th chakras right back out of whack (yoga humor).

“Have you, like, done that kind of thing before?” she asked.

“Not really,” I said, cringing inside but knowing honesty is always the best policy.

“That’s ok,” she said without a shred of judgement. “If you want to do it I’ll tell you what to bring and you just need to wake up super early with us and try it.” And then she added, “And it’s totally cool if we don’t summit. We’re going for it, but we’ll just play it by ear. We don’t have to go to the top.”

I actually didn’t grasp it at the time, but later I realized my friend said this because we hadn’t hiked together before, and she didn’t know if I was in good enough shape to make it. She was laying the groundwork for me to be able to try out this amazing new thing with her without fear of failure. She was meeting me exactly where I was, no matter where that was.

I am still blown away by what a magnanimous babe this person is. She choose to be kind and accommodating, rather than exclusive or greedy to bag another peak (not that there’s anything wrong that Colorado-specific kind of avarice).

In the end we had a great day; we found the route and all summited, celebratory whiskey was sipped above tree line, and most importantly, no one was left at home doing something indoors.

The lesson here is this: Climbing mountains more often than not is a team effort. It’s okay to  want to score, but you don’t want to be the kind of player that hogs the ball. Sometimes climbing mountains is all about setting someone else up for success.

Leave a Reply

What We Believe

We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More