The American Alpine Club Awarded Hayden Kennedy a Mountain Fellowship Grant last fall. This is his account of his trip to Nepal. Thanks Hayden!
A lot of people ask me why I go alpine climbing. All you do is suffer, get scared, get cold, get sick, and most of the time not climb anything. Alpine climbing is a different beast and sometimes I don't even know why I go alpine climbing. My trip to Nepal was eye opening to say the least and I learned more on this trip than any other trip. The Himalayas are a very humbling place and the mountains are to be respected. To be able to climb on these amazing peaks is truly a great feeling but I learned that it is very important to listen to yourself and the mountains. On the trip we did not send any of our objectives but that's alpine climbing I guess.
The conditions were less than ideal but there was something that just wasn't clicking on the trip, the psyche. If you are not feeling the drive and the psyche to climb in the big mountains then it is not worth it. I am always psyched to climb so it was a totally new feeling for me and was one that was hard to come to grips with. I struggled for days trying to force good energy and psyche to climb but I learned that you can't force that kind of thing. It was so hard for me to try and understand why this was happening. At this point in the trip I was battling a super bad respiratory bug and nothing seemed good. I couldn't focus on anything good and was to caught up in what would happen if we didn't send, what would people back home think, what would my sponsors think, all of this bullshit was getting to my head. I finally came to a realization that has really changed me; I climb because I love it and sometime all of the other shit gets in the way of the real reasons that you do something and you forget for a moment why you even love it. I learned that humility is something that we need as climbers and in life to keep in check. It doesn't matter how bad ass you are, how many sponsors you have, how much money you have or whatever, the greater universe will always slap you back into place.
This trip showed me something more than just climbing, it showed me that it doesn't matter what other people think and that the big mountains are a truly amazing place to be and reflect on these lessons. I think that up to this point in my climbing I have been afraid to fail. I am not sure why but people just don't like to fail but failing is when we learn the most. When you send a route you are super psyched for a very short amount of time before you are on to the next thing, and that feeling is forgotten. When you fail you feel it, you taste it, and you live with it for ever. I have had lots of time to think about what happened on my first trip to Nepal and it was all about learning to fail.
There is no doubt in my mind that I will climb in Nepal and I alpine climb more than ever because of trip like this. When you have success in the mountains it's just that much sweeter and the moment is just that much better. If alpine climbing where easy everyone would do it but it's not and you have to want it more than anything. I have changed as a person and I hope that these experiences will help me in the future.
If nothing else, at least I know how to suffer!