There’s this feeling I get when I’m in the mountains – quiet, calm, serene, invigorated. My mind is clear and focused and I am at peace with the earth. I’m running on instinct and I’m carefree. My world small and in the now. Sometimes I’m working the sequence of movement required to climb up a chunk of rock jutting from the mountains. At other times my brain is buzzing with the euphoria of maching down them. On my skis or on my bike, I navigate through the snow or dirt or rock, and when I’m lucky I catch air and fly. I believe in these feelings and the peace that they bring me, And I believe that when this peace is shared – the mountains can unite people of all walks of life. I believe in the mountains.
In the last few years I’ve been fortunate to visit two heavenly venues that harbor mountain lovers, Chamonix, France where I rode my bike down some of the rowdiest terrain in Europe and Squamish, British Columbia where I climbed among the most beautiful and technical granite boulders I have ever seen. In both of these places I found a group of stoked individuals united by their common loves and common beliefs.
In Chamonix, I experienced this phenomenon for the first time. I was a traveler in a foreign country but all I had to do was walk into the first bike shop I came across and I immediately spoke the language, no not French – bike. I booked a guide for the day and rented a bike. My guide – a French downhill racer in his twenties – and I loaded up our bikes in his van and drove to one of the many gondolas that rise from Chamonix valley. It was immediately obvious that he didn’t speak much English and I didn’t speak any French. So instead we spoke of biking technique and bike parts and he guided me down the gnarliest terrain I had ever ridden. Because of our mutual love of the sport and our respect of the mountains, it was one of the most memorable days of my life. Later that night I watched a climbing competition in the town center, it was the world cup and it sparked my interest, eventually leading to my own endeavors in the world of climbing, and evolving my belief in the mountains.
In Squamish I had my first opportunity to travel for my newest mountain love. There, I experienced a new brand of melting pot. As I climbed in the Squamish forest I quickly experienced the uniting energy of bouldering. I sat with people from – Japan, France, Kentucky and Manitoba – whom I’d never met and instantly befriended, we sat and climbed for hours, working together to unlock the movement required to send various boulder problems. Once again we all spoke one language – climbing and all believed in one thing – the mountains.