Chapter Two: “Man and His Land”
What was I doing under a capsized raft in Pakistan? Why would I travel anywhere that required protection from a bodyguard armed with an AK-47? The kernel of the answer lies in my experience as a teenager climbing 14,410-foot Mount Rainier during a summer spent camping, hiking, and climbing across the West. Despite being just 5’2” tall, weighing only 102 pounds, and having no prior mountaineering experience, I climbed to the summit of Mount Rainier. I had been certain I would make it. The alternative was unacceptable. If I had been unable to keep climbing, my guide would have secured me in a sleeping bag and staked the sleeping bag to the glacier, so it did not slide into a crevasse or off a cliff with me inside. My rope team would have continued climbing and picked me up on their way down. As a rising high school sophomore, I did not question this practice. I just resolved to avoid the consequences by summiting. Today, as a lawyer and the parent of a teenager, I am appalled that guides abandoned exhausted, scared, and inexperienced children, leaving them in a precarious position high on a mountain glacier. (It is no longer allowed.) Mental toughness—and the help of a strong guide—got me to the summit of Mount Rainier and instilled in me the unjustified confidence needed to embark on a lifetime of exploits that should have been beyond my physical abilities.