Let’s start here!

You know the feeling you get when you treat yourself to a new notebook? This feeling that you are creating something new. That you are getting a fresh start. It’s exciting. But it’s also intimidating. Because indeed, everything is yet to be written. You know that feeling you get in front of a blank page? You hope you will do things the right way and you get this almost crippling fear of not doing it correctly. But you have to start somewhere, right? Otherwise you just don’t do anything. So let’s start here!

This is a story about being outside. And learning to love it. It’s a story about learning to embrace the process. It is uncomfortable and it is difficult at times. It’s the first kilometers when you get back into running. It’s the days when you’re not feeling it and the setbacks: when something that was easy yesterday doesn’t feel so easy anymore. But it’s worth what you get in return. This is a story about overcoming frustrations. Going beyond it. Overcoming fears. It’s about the struggle. And about the reward. What comes after. The reason why you do it. The runner’s high. The feeling of flow. Of being exactly where you should be. I fell in love with the outdoors, because they make me feel grounded and present. They kick my ass (almost) every single time and make me grow. They have given me an extraordinary vehicle for self-expression, as well as what feels like an endless source of inspiration.

I have fallen numerous times and gone back up, only to fall again the following minute. I have been terrified looking down the slope I had to ski and have waited an embarrassing amount of time before finally taking the leap. I’ve drenched my back in sweat countless times. I’ve been too warm and I’ve been uncomfortably cold. I have entered a climbing gym full of people hanging from tiny holds on overhanging routes, instantly making me want to run away. I have gone on hikes during which I swore each time I had to put one foot in front of the other when going down steep and loose scree slopes. I have downclimbed exposed alpine routes, with what feels like nothing but air beneath my feet, asking myself what the hell I was doing here. I had tears filled my eyes more times than I can recount.

Nevin in the Urner Alps. © 2019, Justine Le Cam.
Looking at the Bernina range in Diavolezza. © 2019, Nevin McCallum.

And yet I keep returning. This blog is an attempt to put into words and photos the reasons why. It’s an attempt to explain, as much to myself, as to others, this overwhelming feeling of belonging. Watching the sun rise on distant peaks, being all alone for miles around, looking at fog rising from the forest, emerging out of an inversion layer and seeing the mountains appear all around you, skiing powder, sending the bouldering problem, skinning up and hearing only the birds, finding the pace making you feel like you could run forever, crossing a glacier under a bluebird sky, finding the strength to push through when your fear is telling you to turn around, taking in the vastness of the mountains.

Ski touring Winterhorn. © 2019, Justine Le Cam.

The title of this blog is a nod to the dichotomy I feel every time I go in the mountains, between amazement and intimidation. The weekend of my 27th birthday, my boyfriend took me on my second ski tour. We skinned up under an amazing bluebird sky, with almost no one around. Before skiing down, we stopped for a long time, soaking up the sun and the views. It was as if time stood still, just the two of us and snowy peaks all around. The snow was quite hard and wind-blown, so the skiing down proved a bit more challenging and not very enjoyable. I was very tense and slow, calculating each of my turns, which lead me to utter the following sentence to Nevin: Every turn is an adventure. Despite the rather uncomfortable ski down, I still remember this day as one of my favorite in the mountains.

This space has been several months in the making. But at one point you have to let it go and to put it out there. I have Nevin to thank for encouraging the process, for reading my words and also for gently pushing me to hit the publish button. This blog was born from the desire to create and to share a visual diary of my adventures in the outdoors. These posts are not meant to be guidebooks or even trip reports. They are a reflection of my own feelings and perception while doing stuff outside. Making your first turns on skis, entering a climbing gym for the first time, buying your first pairs of crampons. These are all rather intimidating experiences and this blog is about sharing them. It is about the not-so-glorious moments, the small victories and the overwhelming moments of bliss. I hope you’ll feel inspired along the way.

Walking towards the Matterhorn. © 2019, Nevin McCallum.

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