“You are unfortunate in my judgment, for you have never been unfortunate. You have passed through life with no antagonist to face you; no one will know what you were capable of, not even you yourself.”
We met in airports, in apartments at 3 AM or in minibuses and decided to take a common road. We had feelings of doubt and fear, but this is what our courage was all about.
Knowing you will get there with other 11 strangers was hard to grasp in the beginning, but the moments you grow the most are the ones when your stomach contracts and makes you doubt yourself. That is the time to push forward, to let yourself really feel the unknown.
And so we did.
We just didn’t have time to greet and properly meet each other and this was probably the best thing we could have done. All of us knew it would be somehow hard and faced even harder things seeing the obstacles that we had in front of us: not having enough experience, or having almost none regarding mountains, not enough equipment, limited amount of time and a very bad weather in the Caucasus.
So we just started doing things. We didn’t wait to rethink or debate, we just did. Executing from the first moments to the minute we reached the summit.
Splitting in teams and responsibles was the first thing: responsible for equipment, for food acquisition, for cooking, for negotiating with locals, for filming and taking pictures, for transmitting some of them home, responsible for the fun parts, responsible for cleaning up and washing dishes. All equal important and impossible to live without. All of us helped on more functions without knowing exactly why we do this or who will be up there for the whole team.
And things started to get from awkwardness to friendship really fast. In 2 days we were so fast, organised, effective you could already see a team in all 12 of us.
We prepared everything in the first 2 days in perfect harmony, checking item by item, step by step, with only 2-3 hours of sleep per night. Each of us felt that event if the objective was not the summit for the team, Mt. Kazbek was there with a mystical power over our reasons and passions.
And then things just got better and better: the weather got better, each of us grew more responsible of what he or she had to do, we pushed ourselves harder: distances traveled daily, hours spend preparing and caring for the others, holding climbing lessons at night, packing and unpacking for the perfect backpack, changing clothes and equipment among us, cooking together and eating with only one spoon when necessary.
There are many things that can make a team effective, but what we did here was beyond expectations. We were no team in the beginning, just a group of total strangers from all different countries.
We had the right amount of grit to try all the time one more step than we should, given the support of the others. For each of us, with or without mountain experience, there was something much harder than before: caring for others, teaching and sharing our best, trusting the other end of the rope to a total stranger. Leading in dangerous areas and feeling the whole responsibility for it. Leading when we were not supposed, when we were unprepared, leading being frightened by our possible mistakes and by the unknown.
They say courage is the noblest of the virtues because it guarantees all the others. Courage to say yes and push harder and mostly courage to say no and to stop for a greater good, loosing yourself for the best of the group. This is the true wisdom of ones soul.
Courage to step forward and say yes to the unknown.
This one is for you guys, for the ones who dare. For you, as you got higher that you were expected.
We search for many things in life, we roam from one place to another, from one idea to another. We find ourselves to our very best not when we are happy but when we found our meaning.
When we started climbing 10 years ago we found that caring more for the other than for you is immensely more motivating and we did that since. The 12 of you understood and did what took us years to understand and do at that time.
I thank you again for the opportunity be part of this and explore for a week our deepest unknowns together with you. Let this be only the first chapter.
Now, get to work on what we started: share, write and speak about your experience and give it back to your community. Be the ones standing for values, rights and cooperation wherever you will be.
I can only pay if forward as I cannot ask anything more from you after all that you did up there.