“All you need is a roll of duct tape and a plane ticket,” said Jim Donini as he dunked a tortilla chip into a deep dish of salsa.
Donini, an American alpinist with a long history of cutting-edge climbs in Alaska and Patagonia, sat with a crowd of young climbers. The table was littered with salt-encrusted margarita glasses. Donini looked over the glasses and into the eyes of each young climber. “That’s right,” he said. “You just got to go and don’t forget the duct tape.”
Donini was talking about commitment and perseverance.
A plane ticket is commitment. You’re going!
However, lucky us—we have the Canadian Rockies—we just need a tank of gas and enough momentum to break free of the inertia of everyday life.
Okay, say you’ve done that, you’re committed. You’re driving out to the mountains.
Now, think about this:
Together, Jim Elzinga and Steve Swenson have over 80 years of climbing experience. Jim is The Original Canadian Hardman and I like to call Steve The Karakoram Kid because he has spent over 1500 days just on expeditions to the Karakoram alone.
Early last winter, Steve and Jim went to the Waiporous to climb Hydrophobia, but they found the road blocked with snow.
No big deal. They walked, sinking sometimes up to their thighs in the deep drifts.
When they finally got to the drainage they realized they were out of enough time to do Hydrophobia.
So, they decided to go to the next drainage where there are some easier and shorter climbs.
Four hours of walking later, Jim racked up for the first pitch.
When he got to the top, Jim saw that the second pitch was running with water. He thought they would go down.
But Steve said, “Let me have a look. I think it might go.”
He went up a foot and said it again, “I think it might go.”
Water saturated Steve’s gloves, turning the leather into wet sponges.
Then, water ran under the neatly Velcroed sleeves of his jacket.
Jim watched the water bounce off of Steve’s helmet.
Steve moved up another foot and said, “I think it will go.”
Water filled his boots.
He moved up again, and then again.
Each time Steve said, “I think it will go” until, eventually, completely and ridiculously wet, he reached the top.
This is the duct tape. The idea that if something breaks (or is not quite right), slap some duct tape on it (“I think it might go”) and keep moving, a foot at a time, and eventually you’ll get there.
The Secret to Being Awesome is a tank of gas and a roll of duct tape and don’t forget your attitude: flexible, tenacious and as ubiquitously useful as duct tape itself.
Have fun out there!
Swing a tool and carve a turn for me,
Best, Kim CsizmaziaKim Csizmazia is a writer and guide with a notable mountain past as a world champion ice climber, dedicated back-country skier, mountain bike racer and member of the U.S Junior Nordic Ski team.