wow, haven’t posted in a while. Here is a story that I wrote in my journal about an adventure last summer…
“Seek Adventure” – Micah Dash, Alpinist
Death beckons me as I look between my legs at the empty space below. That’s why I’m here in the first place. A man died up here a few days ago. He was an ultrarunner, a brother who takes inspiration from these mountains the way that I do. I had never met him, but his death of course saddened me. I ran up here to the ridge crest above the Ice Lakes to see where he had died. And to think about death.
For about the last year I have worn a bracelet on my left wrist composed of a string of tiny skulls carved by hand out of yak bone. I bought it in Namche Bazaar in Nepal, on a cloudy and rainy day. At the time I was reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which inspired me to spend quite a bit of time contemplating the nature of death.
When people say things like, “I was contemplating the nature of death,” our culture usually reacts by thinking that they are prone to committing suicide. Our culture, to me anyway, seems to be in no way curious about death, instead we are neurotically afraid of it. It seems that at our most fundamental level our culture strives to be entirely deathless–we will do anything to fight against our own and other people’s death. The Tibetan Book of the Dead instead taught me that death is another step in the process that is life, a transformative step. It told me that there is opportunity in death, there is a moment when our souls get to choose whether to be reborn into this world once again, or to realize that we have experienced enough and that we can instead escape it. The message to me was clear–escape the fear of death and you are truly free to live life to its fullest. I did not want to forget this epiphany, as it feels like I so often do with other sudden realizations and insights, so I bought the bracelet of yak bone skulls, and still wear it to this day to remind me to live my life without fear.
Most of the greatest people I have known in my so-far short life have seemed to possess the ability to live their life without fear. I suspect that the man who died by falling off of Pilot Knob, near where I now stood, was one of these rare and blessed individuals. He was up on this jagged, loose, and magnificent orange-tinted ridgeline trying to complete a route known as the Ice Lakes Traverse. It is a somewhat well-known, although rarely completed, linkup of many beautiful mountain peaks that surround the famous Ice Lakes, although one typically only undertaken by ultrarunners, who have the speed and endurance to complete such an arduous task. I heard that he had even completed the traverse himself one time before. The Ice Lakes Traverse had in fact been on my list of objectives, or ultrarunning adventures, that I wanted to complete during the summer and his untimely death was unfortunately a perfect excuse for me to wake up early and finally tackle it.