I climbed the Gros Piton this week. A 786m high mountain near Soufriere in the south west of Saint Lucia (the big one!). It was a lot harder than I expected. I naively turned up in my trainers with a bag full of cameras and water, and just a banana for breakfast.
Climbing the Gros Piton turned out to be the second hardest physical thing I’ve ever had to do (after the London Triathlon). The height, the stairs, the heat, combined with my ‘fitness’ made it a difficult task. Never sweated so much in my life. There were a few points on the way up when I questioned why exactly I was doing this to myself. But, like all good things, you’ve got to put in the work to get there.
I finally made it to the top – thanks to the help and twisted psychology of my guide Barney (you can’t do it without one) – and the views and achievement were all worth it.
On the way back down I got to thinking about how the climb was a bit like some crazy analogy for life, so I thought I’d share…
23 Reasons Why Climbing the Pitons is Just Like Life
1. You all start out at the bottom.
2. Some with more advantage – health, wealth, personality, equipment – to complete the climb than others.
3. If you’re lucky you’ll have a guide to show you the way, the dangers and the shortcuts. Sometimes they’ll disappear from sight but whenever they can be, they’ll be there for you (big shout out to Barney).
4. Sometimes your guide might think you’re ok on your own, but it turns out you’re not.
5. Other times they’ll think you need help, but you’re actually fine by yourself. Stay cool, you might need them later.
6. Sometimes it’s the little stones that trip you, the ones you never anticipated to be a danger. Stay on guard.
7. Anyone can fall back, but if you stay back it’ll be even harder to catch up. Pick yourself up and keep going.
8. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to go at your own speed. As long as you’re moving you’re making progress.
9. Sometimes getting to your goal can be more fun than being there. Enjoy the views and the journey.
10. Make sure to take the time to step back and appreciate what you’ve achieved along the way, or you’ll miss out on a lot.
11. People may pass by in both directions. You might as well be kind, smile and give them a ‘hi’, you never know when you may encounter them again.
12. The old trees, the ones with strong roots who’ve seen it all, are there to support you, to be something to reach out and grab when you need it. Use them.
13. You may have to go down a bit before you can go back up again. It feels like a waste of time but it’s necessary to reach your goal.
14. The view at the top is incredible, don’t move on too quickly, enjoy it while you’re there, but know when it’s time for more.
15. Never give up. It can be just as long a way down as it is to carry on up and the rewards are fewer.
16. Don’t be ashamed to admit you need a break.
17. Drink plenty of water, but a deserved beer at a milestone will always feel good.
18. Keep breathing.
19. If it’s that important for someone to get past you, let them. You’ll see them later all puffed out, or if it’s meant to be, you’ll hang out at the top.
20. The few steps before the top can be the most exciting and yet the hardest to do. Give them your all.
21. Previous trailblazers may have made a resting spot, a supportive handrail or a stair to give you a lift up. Take all the help you can.
22. Doing it with friends is always more fun.
23. As traumatic as it might have seemed at the time, you’re going to have some fond memories to look back on.