They say the journey is more important than the destination. If this is true, then climbing something that is truly inspiring for you must be the ultimate journey. Acquiring the skills necessary to be successful, gaining experience, training and finally undertaking the climb itself. Whether the journey occurs over a period of weeks, months of even years; it will be these journeys which weave the great tapestry of life.
Five years ago I was introduced to the world of Alpine climbing. I was unquestionably hooked and like most people infatuated with a new passion I poured over books and internet sites eager to gain more knowledge of this new world and search for that perfect objective. Something that would inspire me to develop my skills and grow as a climber.
Alpamayo struck me as that perfect objective. Not only was the peak majestically beautiful, but the French Direct route on its Southwest face presented a technically challenging route at moderate altitude. More than four hundred meters of sustained ice climbing at almost six thousand meters above sea level. I had found my inspiration.
Photo by Andrew Banks
I simply did not wish to pay a guide to climb Alpamayo. I wanted to have the skills necessary to climb it independently, safely and in good style. Over the next five years I would save enough to travel to the Alps of New Zealand and Europe as often as possible. Each trip I would gain more experience, developing the skills bringing me one step closer to my dream.
Towards the end of 2017 I finally felt ready to give it a go. I organised the Vertical Year project around this objective and on the 22nd of June 2018, I found myself at the base of the peak I had so often dreamed of.
As I sat there in Col Camp I was filled with excitement and anticipation. Climbing the route I felt in sync with the mountain, moving efficiently and enjoying every moment.
Photo by Josh Worley
The final pitch involved climbing a very narrow ice flute towards a short section of three-dimensional ice climbing, followed by a vertical ice chimney formed between the summit cornice and one immediately below it. It was thrutching on snow if you will.
Surmounting these final difficulties three meters shy of the summit I knew I was about to realise my dream. I let out a whoop of joy which my partner mistook for me having already reached the summit. It is difficult to put into words my feelings at that moment. Sheer joy, complete fulfillment and pride comes close I suppose.
Such strong feelings don’t come from fleeting moments such as finally achieving your chosen objective. They are strengthened slowly over time, with every step of the journey; from inception to realisation.
Photo by Josh Worley
Whether its climbing a sport route on the Taipan Wall in the Grampians, a big wall route in Yosemite or summiting a remote peak in the greater ranges; never stop searching for what inspires you. When you find it, pursue it with zealous passion and enjoy the journey.
Josh Worley – July 2018.
Editor's note: as of time of publication, Josh has so far raised over $17,000 for his two nominated charities, Climate Council and ReachOut. Make sure to jump over to the Vertical Year website to learn more about the project!