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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kustaborder

Flip Your Script

When I look at this photo, I see nothing but pure happiness and joy. It was one of the most magical moments of my life and a time when I felt so incredibly connected to the world around me. Reliving this memory lights me up and fills me with excitement.

I was on the Emmons Glacier of Mount Rainier in 2018 attempting to summit this beautiful mountain. This particular photo was taken in a crevasse near Camp Schurman where we were practicing self rescue techniques.

What you don’t see in this photo is what happened earlier. The cascade of emotions that left me angry, tearful and unsure of myself.

The time before I switched my perspective.

In 2016, I summited Mt. Adams, Washington. It was my first peak and the views of Rainier captivated me. My partner and I vowed to climb Rainier as a couple the following year.

When the relationship came to a tumultuous but very necessary end, I was devastated but I kept thinking about Rainier.

I couldn’t gather a local team so I booked a guided trip, spent every moment of my free time training and got mentally ready. The only woman in a group of eleven men, we hiked our way onto the glacier spending every moment together on the mountain for several days. When summit night finally arrived, I was nervous but filled with excitement. I was finally going to make it to 14,411’, the summit of Mount Rainier.

Tied to my partner, we slowly began our night time ascent. 3 hours into the journey and hours from the summit, I rolled my ankle. I told myself it would be fine. Nothing was going to stop me. I would just make some boot adjustments and combat pending inflammation with Motrin and steroids at our next rest stop. The guides weren’t on the same page and I was forced to go back down to camp.

I was heartbroken, exhausted and hysterical. I couldn’t stop crying. I begged and pleaded to no avail. I cried every step back down to camp.

I felt like a failure. The anger in me grew. The sadness was overwhelming

I didn’t make it.

Back at camp, I was unconsolable. I angrily threw my crampons and glacier ax into the snow and trudged up to the rocks near the ranger station. Bundled in my parka, I nestled myself between rocks in the early morning sunshine, cried and stared at the summit.

What was I going to do? How could I face my team after their successes? How could I be happy for their accomplishments when I had failed?

After hours of tears and self reflection, I realized my perspective had to switch. I had no choice but to engage with everyone eventually. Where else would I go? I was at 9440’ so I had to pull it together.

The universe had another plan for me. This injury gave me the space to realize that I wasn’t on that mountain for me. I was there because I had something to prove. I wanted to stand on that summit because I felt abandoned and alone after the tumultuous end of a much needed yet painful breakup. I needed to show the world that I didn’t need anyone. Those are not healthy reasons to climb a mountain.

By the time the men returned, I was able to feed off of their energy, hear their stories and see their photos. Then we went to the crevasse. Nothing else mattered here. The magic was palpable.

Peaceful and beautiful. Quiet and still. Sunny blue skies above, balanced by darkness and depth below me.

A place I would have never been able to enjoy, connect to and appreciate had I not shifted my perspective.

This allowed me to dig deep and realize my true intentions. I was able to reunite with my love of that mountain, appreciate the lessons and recognize that I accomplished much more than a summit. I learned a lot about myself that day.

Even the worst situation can be reframed with a shift in perspective.

Take a look around you.

How can you reframe your perspective on life?

What can you learn from it?

Take care everyone.


Photo: Jordan Cargill

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