Voice of the Mountains

Companion Essay: Mountains Tell the Truth

A simple truth: You are special.

You deserve unconditional love for your very existence. You belong here on this earth.

Perhaps it is easiest to embrace this innocent and self-assured belief when we are children. As a father, I see and am often struck by the purity and strength of self in my own sons. Where did the seed of this early childhood conviction come from? Will they strengthen and foster these genuine feelings of self-love? Or will the armor of innocence inevitably shed itself with age as self-doubt and heartbreak creeps in? When exactly do we begin to waver and forget that we are, in fact, remarkable? And how can we remember again?

The timing and gravity varies for everyone – but it happens to us all. Among the friends, artists, climbers, and hundreds of other humans that I have spoken to and observed – I’ve found the experience to be universal: We all at some point forget that we are each extraordinary beings, deserving of unconditional love and joy.

The mountains help me remember.

If we are lucky, we all find the mountains in our lives. They are symbolic for some, but for me they were made of rock and ice. Some find them, lose them, and then are called back. Once I heard the mountains call to me, I never left. The mountains have repeatedly helped me re-learn and remember what I have forgotten. I am – and we all are – worthy.

My partner in exploring this idea through the lens of a lifetime in the mountains is a living-legend of climbing. For as well as I knew Barry Blanchard before our discussion, I’d never heard the story about the moment he not only lost his innocence, but also found that – in his anger and self-preservation – he could kill a man. The mountains helped him channel that self-knowledge from violence and revenge into scaling peaks, from the Canadian Rockies to Everest.

When do you feel you matter in the mountains? And when and how do you feel small? What truths have the mountains shared with you?

I knew that kicking off this series with Barry was the perfect choice. He has always been one of the most sincere and self-reflective people I have met in my life. I want to thank him again for his openness about his past, the challenges he has faced, and his journey to reach a place of real self-acceptance. There are no words for the gratitude I have for him.

I hope that you listeners share my sentiments and I hope that the time I spent with Barry illustrates what I want Voice of the Mountains to be: a space where together we can explore our journeys and their meaning – whether they are on the trail, the trek or on the face of a mountain.

Exploring the poetic soul of the mountains.

Voice of the Mountains explores the mental and emotional adventures found in discovering who we are and what we’re capable of. Here we engage in self-reflection, humility, and embrace the beauty and struggle of the alpine experience equally.