In The Shadow of Motivation

3.26.2010 | Facts, Motivation

Last night I was watching TV at my mom’s, when I saw that the Knowledge Network was going to be showing a documentary called In The Shadow of The Chief. It’s a film about the first ascent of the grand wall of the Stawamus Chief in Squamish, BC. A friend of mine from long ago is in the film, and as I had yet to actually see it, I decided to give it a glance.

Talk about motivating!

In May of 1961, two young men (Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper) looked up at the nearly 2300 ft of towering rock face of the “unclimbable” Chief and said to themselves, “let’s do it!”. While everyone else said they were crazy to put their lives at risk, they knew that they were doing something monumental and historic.

Their equpiment was less than ideal; having shoes that were full of holes and devoid of grip, an insufficient supply of ropes and bolts, and having no map to guide them nor any route to follow. To make matters worse, while they were on The Wall one day, some heartless knob decided to root through Ed and Jim’s tent at base camp, and stole their supplies and money ($8.00).

However… Ed and Jim had the support of the town, (that still thought the two boys were lunatics), and without that support, the climb could never have been done. They were supplied with new shoes, ropes, bolts, custom-made pitons, and food. After two weeks, their climb had become a massive media spectacle, bringing their story to others who offered assistance in any way.

It took them about a month to finally summit (a climb that can be done in less than one day now), battling intense heat on their backs, crippling cold granite under their finger tips, swarms of grateful mosquitos, and fearless scavenging rats. At one point during their final push to the top, they ran out of water and had to resort to sucking on moss for hydration (funny note: the media at the time reported that Jim and Ed were “sucking on moths” for hydration). But they did it. They did it!

As I look at my own journey compared to Ed and Jim’s, I marvel at their determination and cringe at my own silly fears. I have the best equipment, the greatest guides and porters, and am essentially going on a very long walk up a well-traveled mountain. I’ll be inoculated, sun-screened, hydrated, and camping in luxury. And, like Ed and Jim, I have my good friend with me, and the support of my community. I find it all entirely thought-provoking. And so, as I contemplate, ruminate and think, think, think, I guess I can really only come up with one thing to say about all this…

“Let’s do it!”.