‘Making’ history always sounds a bit contrived. After all, history will happen all on its own even if no one ‘makes’ it. If we just go about our business, things will happen and the story will go on. If we want to change the story and our role in it then we have to take action. We have to seek out the corners of what is deemed possible and push those boundaries out a little further.

team livingvertical climbing with diabetes

If we don’t, life will go on and history will happen. But life will only go on in the predetermined center, the comfort zone of what is normal. Getting burdened with an unexpected diagnosis of diabetes automatically shoves us outside the “normal”. It turns our comfort zone on its proverbial ear–what in our society is more associated with comfort and leisure than the ability to enjoy good food and drink? Throw a monkey-wrench in that and everything changes.

So here we are, exiled outside of comfort and predictability. How do we respond? Do we commit ourselves to kicking against the locked doors, throwing ourselves against the wall, hoping that it will break before we do–or do we shoulder our burden with resolve and carry it to new heights. Push out those corners and CREATE our own normal where we have been marooned.

Before Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile, no one had. Within one year of his making history, 24 more people did. Leading the way and pioneering any achievement is always much harder than following behind. Following is how we learn to lead–and I have climbed many routes that others have climbed and established. This summer we are going to establish routes as a team, bound by diabetes–unified by diabetes.

This has never been done before. There are some very talented individuals with diabetes (several of whom are on this team!) who have established new routes with other non-diabetic partners–but an entire team, unsupported, in the wilderness, relying on eachother to put up new routes–that hasn’t been done.

It’s not like climbing Everest, a cynic might say. That would be truly significant.

I won’t pretend that climbing the tallest peak on the planet is a small feat–but it has been done, established, and the doors have been opened. People can pay (or their sponsors can) to buy the highest summits in the world–meaning that the burden of success or failure is mitigated by guides and porters and cooks and bottles of oxygen. To make history–to unlock new pathways–we have to venture off the beaten path, away from the “scene” and into the wilderness where there is no one to rescue you, cook your food, set up your tent or lead those hard pitches of climbing for you.

There is only us and our diabetes–and many questions that we will have to answer on our own. Will the route go all the way to the summit? Can we climb it–are the holds all there? Can we protect it or will we have fewer anchors and longer falls? Can we get to the top before the storms move in–and if we can’t, will we be able to endure the hardship and still press on?

This is real climbing. Not glamorous, just gritty. Not the most sought after summits, just the wildest ones. This is how history is made. Not by following the lights, cameras and sponsors banners, but by looking where no one else is looking. This is where we are bringing diabetes. Not because it’s easy or because we know it’s a “win”. We could get out there and get shut down. There are no guarantees–that’s what makes this real. It could completely fail.

It’s a lot like life with diabetes.

We are changing what that looks like–not from the center, but from the outer limits. Thats where history is made. That’s where we take control of the story and open new doors for others to walk through.

adventure climbing with diabetes in venezuela