Why We Should be More Thankful

We’re expecting some moderate snow in the Mid-Atlantic region, and while I would normally be egging it on, it’s actually presenting a problem. It’s supposed to hit tomorrow, which is the biggest travel day of the year in the US. Natalie and I are hosting the Thanksgiving feast the next day; we have family driving down from Philadelphia and friends coming from London. We hope that they won’t be delayed.

Last year at this time I posted a piece on climber’s Thanksgiving traditions. This year I’m thinking about what, as a climber, I’m particularly grateful for. The answer brought be back… way back to sometime even before the 1900s.

But the story starts in high school when I began to think that I was born into the wrong era. I wanted to ascend unclimbed mountains in untouched wilderness. I wanted to hike in and port gear carried in by some exotic beast or a pied by shuttling loads. I though that roadside crags and airplanes dropping so-called adventurers or explorers into the backcountry was trivializing the experience.

Now, about 20 years later, I know that even explorers in the 1960s — when most of places like the Himalayas and Patagonia was untouched by Westerners — wish they were seeking out lands in the 1880s.

I also know that adventurers in the 1880s wish they were gallivanting before the advent of the telegraph or the railroad… when times were slower.

Sometime after starting to write here on TSM I got a little less ornery about the period we lived in. That is because I believe my kids, if they have a romantic and adventurous heart like their father, will wish they were actively exploring the world back when I was a kid.

So this is what I’m thankful for:

World Travel — We can go climbing on the other side of the globe and get there is 48 hours, not weeks or months.

Beta and the Internet — There is an unprecedented amount of information available for beta or just to take in the wonder of mountaineering history. Even the American Alpine Journal is now in expanded form online.

Climbing Style is Still First — Despite the armies of commercially guided “expeditions” that build tent cities at the base of major mountains and walk up fixed-rope paths, there are still climbers that climb in light and fast fashion and are not motivated solely by peak bagging. We just have to look for them, and searching for them is part of the pleasure of this age right now.

I’m sure that there is more. What else would you add? Leave me a comment, send me a tweet or shoot me an email.

Well, I’ve got to check the forecast… Have a happy Thanksgiving.

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