Once something has been climbed, it is sadly over and done with and all what’s left are memories. In order to relive the impressions of the Eiger North Face I had to climb it again in 2015. It doesn’t matter how fast you move. Results and times are relative and they don’t stay with you – they fade surprisingly quickly. The focus, the cold air, the burning legs and the sun touching your face on the summit are the real personal experiences. These are your impressions, your perceptions and they are only for you. It’s impossible to share them with anyone, but by the same token nobody can take them away from you. A record is broken again and again, and the world keeps on turning. You are getting older and there comes a time when you have to adjust your projects to your age.
I don’t look back, I look ahead – I live in the here and now, and not in the past.
When I’m in the mountains, I’m where I want to be. That’s where I feel happy and content. I feel free and can do what I want. I set my own parametres. I have always enjoyed solo climbing. I love the interaction with myself and nature. There is nothing but you, the rock, the ice, the mountain. Even though I feel small and insignificant, I the mountains I can live life to the full and play like a child! This is where I feel most comfortable and do what I think needs to be done.
In mountaineering, you can set your own goals. Sometimes I want to get to the top as quickly as possible; sometimes I want to climb as steeply as I possibly can; and sometimes I just want to soak up the beauties of nature.
There are a lot of discussions around mountaineering. But let’s be honest. It doesn’t really matter. I understand why people want to reach the summit of Mount Everest; and the easiest way to get there is with supplemental oxygen. This is not what I’m looking for; but it may be exactly what other people are looking for. I don’t have to worry about it, and I don’t. There are many peaks in this world and everyone can find their own mountain – depending on what they are looking for. Eventually everyone will find their own Everest.
I have repeatedly asked myself, why I do this. The answer is pretty simple: because I want to do it and because I like it. I don’t like being restricted. When I climb, I feel free and unrestricted; away from any social commitments. This is what I am looking for.
I am a public figure. This has gradually happened and I can no longer change it. I have accepted it and the only thing I can do is change my attitude. I have sacrificed some of the lightness of being for it. It doesn’t bother me as long as I can still follow my path. I can no longer do what I want, and I am aware of it, but I still can lead a life, which makes me feel happy and content in the evenings.
I still need the liberty to do the things I love doing though. I don’t worry about other people, and I don’t let them influence me too much. I try to find out what I want to do, and not what other people want me to do.
I am very excited to go away again; to switch off my phone and not to read my emails. And that’s exactly what I will do. I want to live my experience, feel my cold fingers and fall dead tired into my sleeping bag after a long day. I am looking forward to the cold air burning my lungs; the hot coffee warming my body; the sun blinding my eyes and the freezing nights causing me cold feet.
Why do I have to attempt Everest and Lhotse? Yet again, the answer is simple: I get to stay longer in the mountains. I get to spend more time with myself, Tenji Sherpa and the Himalaya.
And now I’ll just go; and only worry about the events that lie ahead of me. Day by day, one by one. It is the here and now that counts. What comes next is uncertain in any case.
Learn from Yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorow.
Tenji Sherpa and Ueli Steck in Lukla