15 Lessons Only Mountain Climbing Will Teach You

In the last couple of years, Egypt has witnessed a major change in society, whereas so many start-ups, new concepts, online shopping portals, music festivals were born, hippy restaurants, cafes & clubs have opened their doors, an interest in sports & healthy living has considerably grown, along with adventure and active travel. Couch-potatoes, and people who were never into adventure, suddenly became so into it, be it locally or internationally. Nobody knows how, why and when? However It’s a positive change that is worth shedding the lights on, proving that the Egyptian mindset is growing, and becoming more open to the world.

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So what is Adventure travel? I believe it’s any activity that requires a leap of faith, one that pushes you to move out of your comfort zone, knowing that you are giving up on your comfort to try something new, something daring, something challenging, yet fun, and adrenalin pumping. An experience that you won’t forget, that will change you in a way or another without you even notice it. Though my personal experience is only limited to summitting Africa’s 2 major mountains, along with several hikes, however it had major impact over my life, that was significant to the extent that I went up Mt. Kilimanjaro a lawyer, and came down a travel writer.

So here are the lessons that only mountain climbing will teach you:

It’s whether you will LOVE it, or completely HATE it

There isn’t really something in between, it’s whether you will fall for it head over heels, embrace every tiny bit of it, and be always hungry for more, or you’d feel like why all the fuss, why am I giving myself a hard time instead of enjoying the luxury of staying at a luxurious hotel, getting pampered, relaxing by the sea, and savoring delicious food? Seriously, never again! (Photo courtesy: Paolo Macorig)

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To growing an addiction to it

Once you start -and of course love it- there is no way back, you can never stop, and really can’t get enough. You just can’t wait for the next challenge, the next big thing you can achieve, and feel triumphant about. During my second attempt to climb a mountain -Mt. Toubkal the highest in the Atlas Mountains & North Africa- I wasn’t as fit or as prepared as when I did Mt. Kilimanjaro, suffering from a severe cramp in my right thigh that was making my pace really slow, and for a second I thought that it’s not worth the effort, and on the summit day I was like “this is it, when I finish this mountain, I will be done with mountains, seriously never again”, but only few minutes after summitting I thought to myself “so what’s the next mountain? I should really train hard, and become fit again to never experience such pain, or mental weakness”. (Photo courtesy: Kathryn McCallum)

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To be achievements driven

Summitting a mountain makes an achievements driven person out of you, as during the attempt your only focus would be to get rid of all negative thoughts, or anything that drags you down, which serves your main goal of “reaching the peak”. You forget about the pain, the discomfort you are put in, all you want is to come back with a trophy, which is automatically reflected in every aspect of your life, so whenever you start something you don’t want to finish it but with a trophy. (Kilimanjaro National Park by: Diana Robinson)

Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength. ~ Diane Westlake.

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To be rebellious & not settling for the less

After being through such a journey, where you push yourself to the maximum, keep going no matter what in order to make a trophy, this will have strong impact over your life, your decisions, and how you see yourself in 5-10 or 20 years, after you reach the summit anything in life would look so small, and insignificant, the feeling of achievement will make you rebellious, and not settling for the less, you will keep telling yourself over, and over again “if I was able to reach the summit, then there is nothing unachievable, impossible is just in our minds.”. You might quit a job that you always hated, start a project that you long have been planning for,…You’ll maintain a totally different attitude. (Photo courtesy: Hans)

Whatever the struggle, continue the climb. It may be only one step to the summit. ~ Diane Westlake

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To meditate

Because not everybody meditates while listening to chillout music, practicing yoga, or relaxing on the beach, believe it or not mountains can also be a great place to meditate, to think positively, and get rid of all negative thoughts that poison our brains. (Photo courtesy: Moyan Brenn)

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To appreciate God’s greatness

Whatever the kind of nature you’d be seeing, but you’d definitely notice something grand and great, snow capped mountains and peaks, you being above the clouds -for instance over the course of your Kilimanjaro trek you’d see jungles, moorlands, alpine desert, rocks and snow-, you could witness the 4 seasons in one day, you’d see plants, sometimes animals, and beautiful bird species, greenery, rocks, sand, waterfalls created by melted snow.

You’d wonder how these mountains have long been standing? and how on earth have they made it through the years? You’d wonder why there are some people who are curios enough to climb those mountains, and you’ll find your question all answered. (Photo courtesy: Mohamed Somji)

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To appreciate the little things in life & take nothing for granted

When you are on the mountain, you don’t have the luxury to sleep comfortably, to use proper toilets -squatting toilets or in the wild-, to eat what you please, to shower, or even to refresh yourself with clean running water, you come to appreciate the little things in life such as having a warm bed to sleep on, a proper toilet and a shower, and the list goes on, and on. We tend to forget how lucky we are, and how grateful we should be. (Photo courtesy: Cindi Albright)

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To learn a lot about yourself & be able to cope with whatever the heck life brings

You’d only learn about yourself whenever put into an “out of you comfort zone” situation, and climbing mountains is definitely one. You’d understand how strong you are, how far you can go, and how much you can cope with it.

Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. Give every opportunity a chance, leave no room for regrets. ~ Diane Westlake. (Photo courtesy: AP Photographie)

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Patience, persistence, and having complete control over your life

Believe it or not, climbing mountains is more of a mental challenge rather than a physical one. Do you know why? Because only your mind have complete control over your body, it can push you to continue till the end no matter how exhausted you are, or stop you if you surrender to negative thoughts. So one very crucial thing that mountains will teach you is patience, persistence and maintaining a positive attitude no matter what. (Photo courtesy: eirasi)

You can’t win physically, if you are losing mentally. ~ Billy Cox

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Team work & the “sharing” concept

Not only you’d be concerned about yourself, and your own success, but about the group as a whole, you motivate, help, and inspire each other to push your limits to the maximum, you will be challenging the mountain, not the group. (Photo courtesy: ActiveSteve)

Tip: If you are not new to mountaineering make sure to stay humble, and helpful to the rest of the group, as the less experienced might feel intimidated by the whole “climbing a mountain thing” -remember your first mountain?-, might be scared, overwhelmed, so please try to maintain a positive spirit, and to be helpful without being snobbish. 

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Packing necessary stuff only & leaving anything else behind

While on a mountain all you need is what keeps you warm, and well equipped; only stuff that you’d actually use, there won’t be any space for anything else, because 1. the porters, yourself or the mules cannot handle heavy weight bags -be kind to them, 2. the last thing you want is your fellow trekkers pointing fingers at your bag, and making fun of how heavy and big it is, therefore read a lot about what you should pack before you start packing, ask the agency you’re traveling with -who usually provide you with such info without even asking-, and leave anything else behind. (The porters by Mousser Williams)

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Unforgettable & life changing moments

You’d always remember the time; when you fell asleep on your ascent due to altitude sickness, when you chewed snow as you were so thirsty, and too lazy to get your water bottle, when you were taken down on a stretcher as you couldn’t stand on your feet anymore, when you peed in disgusting squatting toilets, and above all the moment you raised a flag on the summit, hugged your fellow summitteers, and out of joy broke into tears, and from that moment on your life will never be the same again, I can guarantee you that. (Photo courtesy: Peter Makholm)

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. – Fred DeVito

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Simplicity

When on a mountain for several days, your only possessions would be hiking gear, a camera, and a network-less phone, you are served food that you’d eat whether you like it or not, you will come to realize how well you can survive while possessing minimal things, and can truly enjoy a pretty basic life, easy! Which drives you to cut off irresponsible shopping, and purchasing unnecessary stuff, and start spending your money wisely on stuff that you really need. (Photo courtesy: Jason Wesley Upton)

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Disconnecting from everything & everyone “Having a clear mind”

You’d barely have access to electricity -even if you have solar chargers they might not survive for long-, terrible networks, and barely any phone connectivity, therefore this is the optimum chance to disconnect from everything & everyone, focus on your trek, on the mountain, on the likely-minded people you are traveling with, on nature, and above all the experience.

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Being Practical

During the trek you would barely find any restrooms, and when it’s too cold there is noway on earth you would take even your underwear or any of your base layers off, you’d learn how to keep yourself clean and not stinky, to use holes instead of proper toilets, to change your clothes inside your sleeping bag, to eat and enjoy whichever food you are served. (Can you possibly imagine the scenery? It’s not photoshopped by thebosegrapher)

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Now is your turn to tell us what have you learned from mountain climbing, or adventure travel in general, and how has it change you?

Our Readers Comments

  1. Wow! Sounds like a very rewarding experience. I’ve never tried anything like that, not even camping, but I’m wondering how fit do you need to be? How can I tell if I’m fit enough for it or not?

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