It was inevitable but I’ve hit another bump in the road in this #40by40 quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, and failing to climb Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Taranaki during my recent trip to New Zealand has really been playing on my mind.
In my last blog on extreme planning and lack of flexibility I wrote: “My sense of failure at not climbing these volcanoes was greater – I’d put so much effort into planning, with the intention being it would ensure success, that when the result I had planned for didn’t occur (and for a reason I hadn’t given full consideration to) it was a bit of a punch in the gut.”
To be honest, I am seriously well pissed off that I can’t tick off these two volcanoes. I’m pissed off at the weather for being so stupendously crap and I’m pissed off at myself for discounting the weather and not having a contingency plan.
In short I feel a bit like a big fat failure.
But I’m also pissed off at my mental attitude. The prospect of climbing these two mighty volcanoes was also daunting with heights over 2,000m. Apart from Mt Etna (which involved an ascent by bus, chair lift, monster truck and only the final push on foot, so not sure that really counts), I hadn’t climbed much over 1,000m. These were also demandingly steep volcanoes (Ngauruhoe is angled at about 30 degrees), and I was closer to the unfit side of the fitness spectrum. I admit, a little part of me was secretly glad the weather had decided not to play ball and I didn’t have to attempt what was clearly going to be a gruelling climb.
And now the self-righteous, self-doubting part of my thoughts is looking down at me, dismissing me with a wave while regarding me as a pathetic piece of yuck stuck to the bottom of her shoe.
Altogether, this hasn’t helped the self-doubt I’ve been trying to overcome. But even worse, the failure to climb these two volcanoes hasn’t helped progress my quest – and that isn’t helping the self-doubt or the impending sense of failure. I’m currently at seven volcanoes out of 40. By my calculations I still have 33 volcanoes to go and three and a half years to do them in – that works out at just over eight volcanoes a year.
Now the optimistic part of me wants to say that’s doable, but the boring, practical (and annoyingly self-doubting) part of me just can’t help shaking her head and saying: “I knew you couldn’t do it. You’ve bitten off more than you can chew.” I mean I haven’t even confirmed the next volcanoes I aim to tackle. This mental attitude could risk jeopardising the whole entire quest.
Of course, I haven’t actually failed yet. I haven’t given up on the quest. As the optimistic part of me says, it is still doable. But damn it, that’s one jolly massive challenging mountain to overcome. It’s going to take every ounce of mental resilience, skilful planning, and a healthy bank account to make it happen. But there isn’t the option of giving up (at least not yet).
In the wider scheme of things, this is just a knock-back, a slight kink in the path. But then it wouldn’t really be a quest or a challenge without these roadblocks, now would it?