3-Lessons From the Masters: Are Mistakes Unavoidable?

Project Forty is a unique wilderness mentorship program where we use wilderness trips as a catalyst to spark lifelong relationships. And today I want to share with you a quick little story from my personal experiences in the mountains that I really believe can encourage and sharpen your life.
So I’m gonna take you way back to the year 2001…way, way back. I was doing my very first mountaineering training. I was on the side of Mount Rainier. It’s 14,411 feet beautiful glaciated mountain located in Washington State. Being on the side of this thing just rocked my world. I never felt so small in all my life. It was the second day; we were only half a mile from the parking lot, which was situated around the 5000-foot elevation mark on the mountain. I was just learning how to camp and so I was learning how to do everything for the first time in snow. However, it’s a summer day, 80 degrees outside. Our leader came to us saying that we were going to do bucket-belay training. We met like 300 yards away from our tents and he said, “Come prepared.”
I’m trying to figure out what this means. I think to myself, “It’s 80 degrees?! Wind is low, I guess I’ll just bring my helmet, my shorts, and my shirt. That should be fine. Alright, here we go.” So I walk over with some of my other co-guides. We get situated and we get started with the training. As we get started the wind picks up slightly and then the air temperature…dropped. It went from 80 degrees to 40 degrees in about a two-minute window. What I really needed was my parka! This would have been the preparation that I needed and let me tell you why. It went from 80 degrees and sunny to about 20 degrees with a full-blown blizzard happening on the side of this mountain. I mean it was fast and it completely blew my mind and ya know, I thought I was a pretty smart guy. I thought I had this mountaineering thing figured out. I thought I knew what I needed, but you know what I failed to do? I failed to listen to the people who been in my situation before. They’ve been in the mountains. They have seen the weather change in extreme ways and they said, ”Come prepared. Bring your parka. Dress for the weather and be prepared for anything.”
I didn’t listen and I froze. I felt a little bit better because I wasn’t the only one that didn’t listen. My other peers and first time guides didn’t have any of their stuff either. There’s a little bit of comfort in that, but you know what? It would have been a whole lot better had I just paid attention and trusted those who have been in those steps before me. I mean, how often do we need to know and learn that lesson?! Hopefully we learn it one time and we save ourselves a lot of grief.
So this was just a quick little story! Mount Rainier? Man, I want to go back there and climb that someday. If you haven’t seen it, look it up real quick–it’s a beautiful mountain.