Lessons Learned Climbing to 14,077 Summit of Mount Columbia


Our route up Mount Columbia

Yesterday I got up at 4:30am and climbed 14,077 ft Mount Columbia with extreme athlete/health Guru, Sarah Stanley.

The trip took a little over seven hours. It also took a toenail, two knees and an ankle. It was worth every step! An adventure like this always reminds us of life giving lessons and life saving lessons.

I recorded part of the adventure in pictures and video to share with you. I threw the life lessons in for free!

What was the most critical and difficult part of the climb?

Getting up at 4:30 in the morning! There was only one way to make that happen.

Make the Commitment.

Photo Aug 19, 11 39 37 AM

Me at 4:30 in the morning

Make the commitment and put it on the calendar. I also made myself accountable to Diane, several friends and another climber.

I had good excuses not to climb that day. I traveled the entire day before the climb, arrived late in the mountains and was desperate for sleep. When the alarm went off, there was no turning back. The only way to get started was to throw off the covers, and put my feet on the floor.

Put Boots on the Ground.

Until your feet hit the floor and you’re out the door NOTHING will happen.

Vince Lombardi said, “When the going gets tough the tough get going.” I was already going when the going got tough. The hard part was to…

Keep Going.

Photo Aug 17, 10 13 45 AM

False Summits

Climbing from the route we chose, Mount Columbia has at least 5 false peaks. As I clawed my way to the top of each one, I expected to see the summit. But all I saw was another “mountain” that needed to be climbed before we could get to the summit.

When we finally reached a peak that allowed us to view the summit of Mt Columbia, It seemed miles away.





It was only the encouragement of my friend Sarah that kept me from turning back. “You can do this!” she said. “You have done great to this moment, don’t give up now.”

It was at this moment that I learned an important lesson I had never considered before. 

You see, as an ultra athlete, Sarah sometimes climbs two of these mountains in one day. She runs 100 mile races and is training to do it again!

She could have easily left me in the dust as she sprinted up the mountain. Instead she chose to go at my pace and encourage me to accomplish my goal. So what is the lesson?

It is better to encourage someone that they can do it than to demonstrate how well you can do it!

God gave me an intensely competitive spirit with nothing to back it up. I am always trying to impress people with my ability, rather than look for ways to encourage people to maximize their abilities. There is a better way!

When we could finally see the mountain top, I said to Sarah, “Go ahead run to the top.” So she did!!! Within a minute she was gone.  It was then I realized the sacrifice she made that day. She could have been up and down that mountain in three hours, but instead she had climbed at a snail’s pace to encourage me. 

I learned that…

The pain of a journey is soon forgotten when you reach the summit.

On the way up, gasping for breath 1000 feet into the climb, I wondered why I had ever chosen to do this. Standing on the summit, looking a hundred miles in every direction, I began to plan my next climb.Photo Aug 17, 11 02 52 AM

Finally, I learned that the most dangerous part of the journey may be when you think it is over.

It was on a flat trail leading to our vehicle that I lost my concentration and twisted my ankle. It is important to remain vigilant, ESPECIALLY when we think we have arrived. That’s when we could most easily be tripped up.

Thanks to my wife Diane who always encourages me to press on.

Thanks to my friend Sarah Stanley who was willing to take an entire day to help this novice reach his goal.

Thanks to my creator for crafting such beauty and giving me the strength to enjoy this challenge.

I hope you will be encouraged to set some difficult goals, set your alarm, and make them happen. I hope I have learned to walk the journey with my friends rather than try to impress them with how well I can run.

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5 thoughts on “Lessons Learned Climbing to 14,077 Summit of Mount Columbia

  1. Ken, thanks so very much for sharing this! It was motivating to see you do this, and next time I whine about getting up early for my morning walk this will push me onward. Boots on the floor first–that line will remain!