• Kathleen

Choosing Discomfort

As ski season arrives, I can't help but wonder what inspires me to spend my winters exploring such a harsh and unforgiving environment. The mountains are cold, snowy and full of potential danger. And to top it off, you spend most of the day walking up uphill with expensive planks on your feet.

For years, I was a resort skier. Why would I walk uphill if I could ride a chairlift? Why would I expose myself to avalanche risk if I could ski inbounds?

Then one beautiful, sunny day about six years ago I had an epiphany. I was standing in a very long lift line, wishing it would move faster. I might even have made a comment that I could walk to the top of the mountain in less time than it would take to get to the front of the line. That's when the wheels in my brain started spinning. After all, I spent my summers hiking up mountains for fun, why not do the same thing in winter?

Over the next few seasons, I learned about avalanche safety, joined the Alpine Club of Canada, and found friends and mentors to earn my turns with. I quickly fell in love with backcountry skiing, and spend as many days as possible each winter exploring the mountains with skis on my feet.

Which brings me back to my original question. Why?

Some days are magical with bluebird skies and champagne powder.

But those days are the exception. We often walk a very long way only to discover that the snow quality is less than ideal, or that we can't ski the line we'd hoped to because the avalanche conditions are too risky. Sometimes it seems like an awful lot of work for very little reward. And yet, those are the days we learn the most.

Over the years, I've found that the greatest satisfaction comes from facing adversity and meeting the challenge. From discovering that I am capable of achieving something greater than I thought possible, From learning about my inner psychology and how I can overcome fear and discomfort in order to rise to the challenge.

I also have to reflect on the fact that my life is comfortable enough that I can choose to pursue discomfort in order to experience the mountains and learn more about myself. I have to acknowledge that many people in the world experience so much adversity in their daily lives that they would never choose to pursue discomfort in their leisure time. If they even have leisure time. The inequities are heartbreaking, but that's a post for another day.