“Last year, I decided to take on the beast that is Mt. Rainier outside of Seattle, Washington. At first, I was nervous to book a trip like this without a +1 to go with me, but I decided to do it; I appreciate a challenge and the mountains are an amazing escape from the day-to-day hustle and bustle of city life. That was my first of many mountaineering #girlbossmoments.
When we got to base camp, we learned that Mother Nature wasn’t having it and the wind speeds were going to be too dangerous for us to ascend past 10,500 feet. Obviously a bummer, but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. When they posted the climbs for 2016, two days after my return, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to book the July 31, 2016 climb. This was my #girlbossmoment number 2.
Training, training, training…that was my life for the last 6 months. Coupling training for a mountain with also having a full-time demanding, leadership position with a tech at a startup? I learned quickly that it’s all about time management. I blocked off two hours at the end of each night to work out and prepare for the climb. High heels and a work dress? Check. Mountaineering boots and a weighted pack? Check.
I put my workouts on my calendar and held myself accountable daily with an excel spreadsheet that calculated how many hours per week I had worked out and how that compared to my weekly workout goals. If I hit my goal, I celebrated. If I did not, I put a plan in place to not miss the following week. Failure wasn’t an option. This is my #girlbossmoment number 3.
There were many days when I wanted to skip my workout. Going to that happy hour would have been so easy! Stopping would have been so easy! I knew that the mountain was going to throw even bigger obstacles at me, physically and mentally, and that I needed to train myself to persevere in moments of mental weakness. If I wanted to stop running in the middle, I’d make myself go 20 extra minutes. If I was tired and wanted to eat dinner, I’d make myself run 10 more flights of stairs. Wanted to stop my hike? I’d go 3 more miles. You get the idea. Not allowing myself to stop when my head got in the way is my #girlbossmoment number 4.
They say that mountain climbing is 80% mental, and I definitely felt that while climbing Rainier. I put in a lot of preparation physically and mentally and because of that, in addition to the expertise of my mountain guides and the mountain being gentle on us weather-wise, I succeeded. But not without a few hurdles along the way…
At about 13,500 feet, I felt tired and started to get sick due to the high altitude. Disclaimer: I was never in serious danger and always listened to my expert guide team and to my body. Safety is always more important than a summit push, but when I was offered the option to descend down the mountain instead of continuing on, we knew I had more in me. I knew I could safely continue. In my head, I knew that I had 45 more minutes to the top and I was going to have to descend back to the bottom (~8,200 ft.) regardless of whether or not I hit my goal. This is where my training came in: I knew I could do it and my guides knew I could do it, so you know what? I did it. Major #girlbossmoment number 5.”
Three pieces of advice for aspiring Girlbosses:
1. Believe you can do it. Once you put your mind to something, know and truly believe that you can do it. Does this mean that you will not hit snags and challenges along the way? No; you will. But you will be ready.
2. Be humble and listen to those smarter than you. I read books on how to prepare for this climb, I took courses, watched videos and I was always listening to my guides and mountaineering mentor for my best next play. Put yourself in a place where you can learn from the best, even if it’s just a skill you want to emulate.
3. Celebrate small wins along the way. It’s important to acknowledge your momentum and not simply focus on the end alone. Set milestones and markers and take a moment to reward yourself and reflect on how you got there and what you had to overcome to make it happen.