“Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” ― Anatoli Boukreev

Mountains. I love them and I hate them.

It’s always been this way.

When I’m there, I hate it.

The struggle.

I never find it easy.

Never!

It doesn’t matter what I do to prepare.

For whatever reason, I always find it difficult. No matter how fit I tend to be.

Yet I keep going back.

I think it’s the sense of achievement I get when I finally make it to the top.

Fortunately, I love making my way down mountains.

My knees may disagree…!

On my last few hikes, I thought about how similar mountains are to life in many ways:

1. You can’t compare yourself to others

That’s right. Even Rocky agrees. (I watched Creed last night which I really enjoyed, although it was pretty cheesy in parts. I’m an Everton supporter so was surprised by the club’s prominence in the film. I was also adamant that Creed’s opponent in the film was unconvincing as he was so much flabbier and less ribbed than Adonis. I just read about how the guy is actually a professional boxer in real life however! Shows how much I know about boxing!).

When you’re on the mountain. You can’t think about how fast or slow anyone else is going. You can’t let yourself get stressed out by those who over take you.  The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself (thanks Baz!). You need to focus on your own game, not on anyone else’s.

2. Pace yourself

Like most things in life, you’ve got to be patient. If you want to summit Everest for example, you can’t just sprint to the top, or do so without training. It’s going to involve a lot of preparation, acclimatisation, and repeating multiple legs of the journey.

Have you been watching EverestNoFilter on Snapchat? It’s amazing!

3. Take care of yourself first

You’ve got to make sure that you are in good shape.  For your own sake and to help others that might be in need.

You have to be sensible.  It’s up to you to make sure you’re fit, drink enough, and keep warm.  Trying to be a hero and pushing yourself too far is pointless, and could put others at risk if they have to save you.

In life, I’ve seen too many people in life sacrifice sleep, exercise and their own health in favour of work, family, or pleasing others in general. It’s insane!

These guys look dreadful, get sick frequently, and never seem happy.  This kind of behaviour isn’t sustainable. Something’s got to give. They burn out or have a nervous break down, and end up letting themselves and others down even more. All they need to do is learn how to say no, set boundaries and take care of themselves first. It’s not easy but it’s got to be done.

4. Look out for others

One of the things I love about hiking is the sense of camaraderie you get on mountains.  Strangers readily talk to each other and most people are in a good mood!  People share tips, share resources, and people rarely compete against each other. That’s how life should be lived!

You’ll often be relying on your fellow climbers for help if something goes wrong.  Likewise, it will be up to you to offer to help people if someone’s in need. Ditto in life. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and help others where you can.

5. Prepare

If you want to do anything in life, you’ve got to do what you can to get yourself ready.  You’ve got to know which mountains you want to climb!

For the mountains, you’ve got to be fit, make sure your acclimatise properly, have the right gear, carry enough food and water.

In life, you need to be healthy, and learn the skills you need to get you where you want to go.

6. Accept what you can’t change and be flexible

There will always be things you can’t change, and you will need to learn how to accept that.

The weather may be rubbish.  You might develop a blister, or injure yourself. You might get really ill just before setting out and have to accept that you just can’t go.

Make the most of the cards you’ve been dealt.  Spot the opportunities.

It’s not always easy, but it’s up to you to keep your focus in times of adversity.   Your attitude and how you approach what goes wrong will play a part in the outcome.

You’ve got to trust that sometimes what happens may be a blessing in disguise.  For example, the few times we’ve had to postpone trips, or changed itineraries, we’ve always ended up meeting the best people!

You’ve got to know when to push on, and when you need to change tack. Understand what you have to accept and what you can be single minded about.

7. Enjoy the journey

Getting to the top might be the goal, but you need to enjoy the way up.

Slow down. Smell the flowers. Make friends. Drink in the scenery.

Enjoy the adventure.

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