Going for It: Woman Warrior

Differing paths to the top

I recently read two books about scaling impossible heights: The Wave, about big waves and big wave surfers by Susan Casey and Dark Summit, about the 2006 climbing season on Mt. Everest, by Nick Heil. 

Though one might think that athletes attempting to scale the tallest mountains and ride biggest waves in the world would have more in common than sets them apart, I was astonished by how fundamentally different the two groups were.

With some exceptions, the mountain men described in Dark Summit saw Mt. Everest as something to conquer, no matter the cost.  The notion that morality had no place above 8,000 meters seemed to be accepted wisdom and the history of the mountain is littered with the bodies of those left for dead.

By contrast, for Laird Hamilton and the others covered in The Wave, success is not related to the size of the wave, but rather what the surfer does on it, most notably his willingness to put himself on the line to rescue another surfer. They approach the giants they ride with humility, knowing full well that even a momentary ego-induced lapse in judgment could have fatal consequences.

As someone unlikely to take on either feat in my lifetime, I recognize that it is not appropriate for me to judge.  That said, when standing at the base my own life's mountains, I hope to approach them with humility and respect for the journey ahead. I can't imagine any other path to the top.


Alexis Rodich

 |  October 4, 2010; 6:54 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Keep trying if you want to succeed | Next: Learning from failure

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