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"The Way of Adventure will stir your blood, stretch your vision, and start you packing for the journey to the next horizon."?Sam Keen, New York Times bestselling author of Fire in the Belly and Learning to Fly
"Required reading for adventurers, entrepreneurs, and executives alike....an engaging quest for meaning, and Jeff Salz is the perfect guide."?John Adams, CEO, AutoZone, Inc.
"An absolutely wonderful book....It inspires, informs, and ...
"The Way of Adventure will stir your blood, stretch your vision, and start you packing for the journey to the next horizon."Sam Keen, New York Times bestselling author of Fire in the Belly and Learning to Fly
"Required reading for adventurers, entrepreneurs, and executives alike....an engaging quest for meaning, and Jeff Salz is the perfect guide."John Adams, CEO, AutoZone, Inc.
"An absolutely wonderful book....It inspires, informs, and entertains."Stacy Allison, first American woman to climb Mount Everest
What is adventure? As Jeff Salz shows us in this wise, wonderful, extraordinary book, it is the most vital way of living your life every day. Few people can write about adventure with the authority of Dr. Jeff Salz. Mountaineer, explorer, anthropologist, professor, business consultant, and motivational speaker, Salz has experienced adventures from the Himalayas to Patagonia. In this book he recounts his thrilling, often perilous journeys and reveals how each one provides an essential lesson for living with authenticity, courage, and imagination in any circumstance. Open this book and embark on your own journey of self-discovery.
THE FIRST STEP
Leap Before You Look
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.
—W. H. AUDEN
Mountain-Naming in Patagonia
My childhood nickname was Puffy. By age nineteen I wasn't that puffy anymore, but the psychic residue of having gone through my entire elementary and secondary school athletic career as the last guy picked still defined my sense of self. It wasn't until I discovered hiking and rock climbing in my early teens that I found a physical activity at which I excelled. Climbing, I had decided, would be the sole focus of the rest of my life.
Cowboy Steve McAndrews seemed to have chosen more ambitiously; since leaving his Texas home, his interests had ranged widely from climbing and kayaking to music, educational theory, poetry, even dance. In his wide-brimmed Stetson and ostrich-skin boots, he'd driven his pickup truck up to Big Sur to become one of the first people I knew to get Rolfed. In the wink of an eye, this shuffling, panhandle kid had transformed himself from redneck renegade to renaissance ranchero. This transcendental trailblazer was also my best buddy and climbing partner. So when McAndrews suggested the two of us organize a year-long climbing expedition, it never occurred to me to refuse.
"Come on, Salz," he'd chided. "Patagonia has mountains no one has ever climbed. You know, whoever is the first to climb a mountain gets to name it. What do you say we go down there and do a little mountain-naming?"
Theconversation had begun earlier that year as we practiced our winter mountaineering skills in the mountains outside Silverton, Colorado. It had continued into the summer as we journeyed up to Crested Butte to make a few bucks teaching climbing and kayaking to high school students. Our pupils were not much younger than we were.
McAndrews, fresh off a feed lot in Hereford, Texas, was twenty years old and already a better climber than I would ever be. A few years earlier, he had traded in his lariat for a climbing rope and taken to clambering up walls of sheer granite the way he had once climbed atop Brahma bulls and bucking broncos. McAndrews wasn't much bigger than I, but he was large muscled from growing up on a working cattle ranch. He had to buy his blue jeans on the loose side just to get them over his massive upper legs. He was sandy haired and freckled, with baleful blue eyes that reflected a wisdom far beyond his years. No one who met him disliked him, nor could they quite figure him out. He was a redneck with the unaffected soulfulness of a jazz musician.
He took his time getting anywhere, loping lazily rather than walking. The first time I met him, I thought that he moved through the world far too slowly. Later, I came to see that I was the one living too fast. While I lifted life up and hurled it over my shoulder in a mad rush to experience more, McAndrews took his sweet time, examining each moment as though it were a many-faceted jewel. ("Life is precious," he said. "Why hurry a precious thing?") There was an otherworldliness about him that you didn't expect from a down-home cattleman s kid from the panhandle. And there was a tinge of sadness in his smile.
Patagonia begins where the rest of the world leaves off. At the tail end of the South American continent, it's known to have the worst weather in the world. Beginning at the barren, empty pampas of Argentina—at the line of longitude so windswept it is known as the Roaring Forties—Patagonia stretches southward toward its abrupt terminus, the icy, stormy Tierra del Fuego, often called the "uttermost part of the earth."
McAndrews had done his research. There is a place called the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap, where glaciers and wilderness extend from a series of lakes on the Argentine side all the way across to the Pacific Ocean. No one had yet traversed its width. Mountains rise up from its frozen surface: beautiful spires of ice and granite, unclimbed and unnamed. We would cross the glaciers, traverse the ice cap on skis, and climb some mountains.
Because an impressive-sounding name and official stationery were essential to solicit free gear from mountaineering equipment manufacturers and charm suspicious officials of Latin American governments, the "American Ski Mountaineering Expedition" was born. McAndrews and I recruited two college chums to round out our team. Noel Cox, mountain guide and experienced Outward Bound instructor, was the most seasoned expedition member. Her shoulder-length blond hair, mischievous grin, and diminutive stature belied her inner toughness. Just over five feet tall, she reached halfway up the chest of the fourth member of our team, Randy Udall. The son of a U.S. congressman and descendant of Mormon pioneer and outlaw John D. Lee, Randy truly seemed larger than life, from his size-twelve climbing boots to the strength of his intellect and opinions.
From Estancia Cristina—the isolated, Brigadoon-like hamlet up a wind-whipped fjord at the extreme north-northeast corner of Lago Argentina—it took a week to set up a base camp at the foot of the moving river of ice known as the Upsala Glacier. We wove through twisted strata of exposed earth—sulfuric yellows, red oxides, canyons of color carved by aeons of ice. The metal sledges lashed to our backs transformed us into offerings to the wind that threatened to lift us kitelike into the skies. When the gusts came, we clamped on to the nearest boulder and held on for dear life.
Weeks were spent scouting our route, threading the frozen labyrinth of the Upsala, the longest glacier in the Americas. Strapping on our crampons—the sharp metal spikes that climbers affix to the soles of their boots for travel over ice—we were unprepared for the fantastical frozen universe we were about to enter. Turquoise rivers, borne on an icy surface, carved heavenly grottoes and then thundered downward and disappeared into crystalline chasms thirty feet deep. Like four blind mice wearing dark glacier glasses, probing with our ice axes, we felt our way forward day after day. Roped to each other and reeling under our extreme loads, we threaded the convoluted maze of crevasses.
There were sudden screams and curses each time one of us disappeared waist-deep into potholes filled with ice water that lay concealed like booby traps beneath the slush. A week passed while we lost feeling in our toes. We tucked our boots, soggy as sponges at day s end, between sleeping bags, only to find them frozen solid each morning.
Often we stopped to marvel at the wild world that engulfed us. To endure the ceaseless insults of discomfort and insecurity that filled our days, it was essential to cultivate corresponding qualities of awe and appreciation. Slowly, grudgingly, the ice yielded its secrets: we discovered patterns within the chaos. Soon we were navigating the crystalline white caps with confidence. Hateful cul-de-sacs became the exception rather than the rule. By the end of week two, we had established marked pathways and set up glacier camp midway across the Upsala.
On the glacier at night, my dreams were of train wrecks and explosions. Our tents, pegged to the icy terrain, billowed in the angry gusts that hurtled down upon us from the north. The nylon of the tents whipped and cracked. Our lungs filled with the rush of frozen air as the tent inflated to the bursting point and seams popped with pressure. I imagined the metal screws that held our flimsy shelters to the ice tearing loose, our tents taking to the sky and heading toward the South Pole.
Life inside a Snowdrift
Thirty-five days after departing Estancia Cristina we established an advanced base camp, a snow cave feverishly dug in the face of a great tempest that bore down on us from the north. Buried ten feet deep in the snow beneath the rock towers of the ice-cap peak called Mount Murallon—the Fortress—the four of us lay hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder, shivering in a space that was the equivalent of a household refrigerator. We had no choice but to wait for the storm to pass. We waited for two weeks.
By day, time crawled slowly. The diffused light was enough to read by. At night, our cave felt like a group coffin; darkness was absolute.
As each night's blizzard deposited additional feet of snow on our hatchway, each morning s foray to the glacier for water required an additional half hour of digging to reach the surface. Once topside, you never knew what to expect. One morning, blowing winds of a hundred miles an hour dropped Randy and McAndrews to their knees, propelling them forward like a two-man luge. It took them an hour, crawling face to the snow, pulling themselves arm over arm with their ice axes, to regain the entryway.
Another morning, Noel and I emerged into total stillness. An eerie whiteout blended the horizon and sky into one seamless dream. All that was visible were the tips of our toes. All that was audible was our breathing.
Each day we sank deeper beneath the drifts. A flickering candle let us know that death by asphyxiation was not yet imminent; there was still oxygen enough to keep us alive. We bickered for lack of anything else to do. Though it was April, we sang Christmas carols through chattering teeth. I set a record in the sleeping bag competition: thirty hours elapsed without my leaving a soggy synthetic cocoon.
One week passed.
It was McAndrews, returning from the surface with the morning weather report, who woke us from our state of suspended animation. "It's been so long that I m not sure, but I think those tiny lights in the sky would have to be stars."
The unclimbed mountains that waited across the ice cap seemed a long, long way from where the four of us sat in the pitch-blackness pondering our next move. We had consumed much of our fuel and food while waiting for a break in the weather. Was it prudent, we wondered, to pack up our ropes, climbing metal, and already waterlogged down gear to begin skiing deeper into terra incognita?
I recounted a dream from the night before. Mickey Rooney had appeared with a truckload of cabbages for me to drive over a hill. The dream was an omen, I decided; we had to press on. Randy agreed that the dream was significant: "A sign of the mental decay that accompanies physical deterioration caused by weeks of inactivity." I knew he was right. We would have to head back across the ice, past glacier camp, and back to dry land.
But first there was a mountain to climb.
Rising above us, Mount Don Bosco, the mountain within whose flanks we had established our snow cave, had but one recorded ascent. The British explorer Eric Shipton and his team summitted in 1961 at the conclusion of a fifty-two-day trek along the ice cap. We suited up, grabbed ropes, ice screws and axes, and emerged into the starlight of the waning ice-cap night. The second ascent would be ours.
First light found us flailing waist-deep through powdery snow, breaststroking toward the East Ridge. The rising sun poked over the glacier s edge, illuminating the ice with a re of brilliant amber. Mount Murallon, Mount Bertrand, and Mount Bertrand s equally beautiful unclimbed satellite peak glistened in ice, towering above us like quartz crystals of the gods. Atop the ridge, thin sheets of verglas crumbled into crystals, filling our path with rainbows.
Hours passed unnoticed. There were moments of grace as our axes and the front points of our crampons chomped repetitively into the vertical ice and held fast. Screws were set and ropes were threaded through carabiners with a sure, rhythmic ease. At other times our efforts degenerated into slapstick. We stood on each other s shoulders, hauling and pushing each other over collapsing snowbridges, and we floundered through new powder so deep we would never find bottom.
Unroping, moving on our own, we attained the mountain s principal ridge. None of us had ever witnessed such a sight. The entire range of glistening peaks and sheer rock pinnacles shimmered before us in the bright sun. For a moment I stood lost in amazement. Then I took a single step forward and felt the world disappear beneath y feet.
I'd made a deadly error. Fatigue combined with overconfidence had caused me to succumb to an optical illusion. Through the dark lenses of my glacier goggles, I had confused the snow beneath my boots with the whiteness beyond and had strolled blithely over the lip of the abyss! The once-gentle ridge top was now an ice cornice with a jagged edge that ended in a spectacular drop of several thousand feet.
So, it seemed, had my life. As I teetered forward, my mind filled with regret and the recrimination that must be the final thought of many soon-to-be-no-more climbers: what an idiot! Suddenly, there was a tug at my waist and I felt myself being jerked backward. Glancing over my shoulder I saw McAndrews, rope in hand, leaning back, counterbalancing my weight with his. A split second more and I d have been on a one-way ride to oblivion. Instead, overcome with vertigo, I fell to my hands and knees on the ice.
"Thanks," I gasped.
"No problemo," nodded McAndrews, cool as ever. Apparently my number was not up. Not yet.
The summit was in sight. We moved slowly upward along the ridge, climbing through haystacks of rime ice—freezing rain hurled with such force and at such low temperatures that it creates formations with the swirling intricacy of brain coral. McAndrews, who was at the front of the team, stopped and motioned for me to take the last lead. The final pitch was steep but not technically dif cult. Securing the rope with a boot-ax belay, I guided each member of the team to within a few feet of the summit. When we were all in place, we joined hands and stepped to the top. Spontaneously, we began to sing.
My heart soared like a condor. I witnessed the planet as primordial and as fresh as the day it was born. Thousands of square miles of virgin earth surrounded us, uncharted, untrammeled, and unknown. Directly below us, the Upsala Glacier extended forty frozen miles before turning into icebergs and disappearing into Lago Argentino. One hundred miles to the north we could see the legendary monolith of Mount FitzRoy, its mile of solid granite gleaming purple, its silhouette like a spaceship heading skyward. Someday, I said to myself, we'll do FitzRoy.
You never conquer a mountain. If you make the summit, all you have conquered is yourself. There, on that peak, we gained the upper hand on our fears, our self-doubts, our own inner inertia. On the mountaintop we felt our souls expanding and prayed that some part of this newfound largesse of spirit would linger forever.
Eight days later we stepped once more upon the living earth. The loam felt deliciously spongy beneath my feet. I was overwhelmed by the texture of the leaves, the colors of the flowers. After weeks of near-total sensory deprivation, we had emerged from a frozen moonscape into the Garden of Eden. I dug my fingers into the earth and burrowed my face into a soft patch of moss. Lustily, I sucked in the sweet smell of life.
Adventure Is an Inside Job.
How to Use This Book.
Your Quest Begins Now.
THE FIRST STEP: LEAP BEFORE YOU LOOK.
Mountain-Naming in Patagonia.
Make Your Leap of Faith.
THE SECOND STEP: AIM HIGHER THAN EVEREST.
The Freaker's Ball Expedition.
Scale Your Inner Mountaintop.
THE THIRD STEP: GIVE IT ALL YOU'VE GOT.
Sailing in the Wake of the Sun Gods.
Create a Generous Reality.
THE FOURTH STEP: WORK SOME MAGIC.
The Shaman's Apprentice.
How to Make Magic.
THE FIFTH STEP: KEEP ON YOUR BEARING.
Going Loco with the Gaucho Guru.
The Secrets of Service.
THE SIXTH STEP: ENJOY THE VIEW.
The Adventure at Home.
Live Beyond the Peak Moment.