Metamorphosis of a Hiker


In the outdoor world of the human in the mountains there is a natural evolution. A natural development cycle. The humble hiker taking his first steps into a mountain environment is encouraged by his success and the beauty of the natural landscapes to delve further. He may start to use his hands to scramble his way up steeper inclines. This usually leads to harder and more difficult undertakings until a rope becomes necessary for protection. Our humble hiker has metamorphosed into a mountaineer. This may be followed by a visit to the Alps in which case he can probably start to call himself an Alpinist.

Deep in thought

Then, as age begins to take a toll on mind, body and especially the legs our tough mountain warrior starts to reverse the evolution cycle. Whether he likes it or not, he has no choice. He starts looking for the easier option, knowing his ageing body is being put under more and more strain. His arms no longer cope with overhanging rock nor will the legs cope with 1500m of tough ascent. He has to learn a new series of techniques that will allow him to continue to enjoy the mountain environments. To adapt. He has to re-align his sights and lessen his objectives. But in the end, he will return to being the humble hiker he started off as all those years ago.

All along this journey of mountain discovery he has been gaining experience. This has allowed him to become safer in the mountains for both himself and his mountain companions. But what is “experience” and how do you attain it?

Certainly the more you venture into the mountains the more you will experience and gradually your in-built sensors will attune to the environment. Risk taking judgement will improve. But to really make big leaps in experience you have to have made mistakes. Mistakes, omissions, errors of judgement, lack of skills and equipment. If you have never made errors in the mountains then how can you say your experience is complete?

You cannot gain experience from a book, nor YouTube nor an online course that dishes out a “Certificate of Experience”. No, to gain experience you actually have to have lived through all the mistakes and taken the pain that comes with it, to hopefully come out the other side intact.

I've made plenty of mistakes!

Good judgement