The philosophical genius, Eckhart Tolle, stated in his book The Power Of Now, that to be in the present moment, “you don’t need to climb the north face of the Eiger”.
Five days into the unrepeated Russian Directissima on the Eiger north face, Tolle’s words suddenly revealed their full meaning.
He was right. I was free of time, free of problems, free of the burdens of past and future.
I was truly absorbed in the present moment.
But I was leading the most dangerous pitch of the hardest aid route on the Eiger, so I had to be.
I realized that I don’t climb in order to find the present moment.
The present moment is just something that happens while trying to find something else.
Legendary climber, Yvon Chouinard, sums it up in the film 180° South:
Yvon is right. There is no point reaching a summit without a struggle, since the struggle is the whole point. It is during the struggle that we learn, we become stronger, we become better people.
That route on the Eiger was, perhaps, too much of a struggle. We returned to our camp on the mountain...
... and melted snow for a nice cup of tea.
We never made it to the summit.
Watch a short video of our Eiger fail here.
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- Neil Chelton