Shadows can be good. In fact, oftentimes it can be easier in the shade, without an unrelenting sun constantly beating down. But within that darkness lurk creatures impossible to see, ones that can crawl inside of our heads and make themselves at home, and we are none the wiser. That’s the danger of a shadow.

Over the past few days, I have been thinking a lot about what it means for me to be here. More accurately, what it means for me to be here with Melissa. Because I’m not some sort of prodigy. I just spent 9 weeks practicing different climbing knots, only to learn I got most of them wrong. I’m not a natural. And it’s not normal for a 14 year old climber to get to go to the Himalayas. So if I’m not particularly gifted, or experienced, but suddenly I have access to this place usually reserved for the creme de la creme of alpinists, what does that do to my psyche?

There is the whole rabbit hole of my privilege, and the insane opportunities I have grown up with that allow me to have these experiences, but I think I am going to go into that in another post. For now, let’s focus on ego.

Being able to climb with Melissa is a package deal. I have subsequently been tagged in her Instagram posts (hello hundred new followers), been mentioned briefly in an article, and have gotten exposure for this blog that in no way came by way of my own PR. And because of that, in the 11 months when I wasn’t in Nepal this year, I got a lot of pats on the back. That many congratulations can start to affect us. Affect me. It’s easy to forget all the mistakes you made, all the reality checks of inexperience. Victories float to the top amidst the attention.

So when we started planning this year’s expedition. I vetoed a lot of ideas that I mistakenly perceived as below me. Because I am an impatient teenager, and I’m hungry to progress, I pushed for something bigger. We landed in the middle, probably bit off more than I could chew, but I was satisfied. I had debated until I felt like I was being given due promotion, a statement I now find ridiculous because as I mis-tie knot after knot and make basic mistakes on the trail, I realize nothing is due. I am a mere peon in a world of experts. Which is fantastic, I should mention. So much to learn from everywhere. But it is important to realize that, even if it takes a few demerits. And as always, there is nothing more humbling than a mountain.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. dianakapp says:

    The profoundness, honesty and sheer ability to articulate complex feelings in words by a 14-year-old girl is humbling me. You only get this kind of ‘grist for the mill’ as the cliche goes when the times are, at times, dark and shadowy. write on my friend-you have a gift. xo


  2. Anthony Fusco says:

    Maybe you can’t tie all the knots, but you sure can connect the dots! Thanks for such an honest and inspiring post, Elliot!


  3. Jane Mortimer says:

    Elliot – the four of us were in Peru for spring break and hiked up old Machu Picchu mountain last week. As Roger and I huffed and puffed our way up we thought of you and your courage and tenacity. You inspire and we are all sending you love and good vibes for a great climb. The Mortimers


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