changed my life

5 Minutes of Chaos that Changed My Life

I started writing a blog post and it turned into my next eBook AVAILABLE NOW  "5 Minutes of Chaos that Changed My Life". There's a lot more to this story than what I've discussed on recent YouTube videos and Podcasts but I don't want to cram it into a blog post that won't get fully read and besides...I hate rushing. That said, the real nugget of gold that changed my life is what I'd like to focus on. It's not about climbing. It's not even about risk management or diabetes. Simply put, it's about the story that we all tell ourselves. Here's an excerpt from the book:

As the dim pink glow of the infant sunrise bled across the horizon I felt  heart drop into my stomach. "Hey Martin, hold up?" I croaked at my partner. He was grinding up the still frozen snow slope towards the several hundreds of feet of unroped "approach climbing" that intervened between us and the start of the route we'd come to climb. The familiar feeling of low blood sugar stifled the words in my mouth as I attempted to explain to Martin that I had to take some food and rest.

The day prior--lugging a 45 lb pound pack up 5 hours of steep trail before making high camp at Applebee Dome in the Bugaboo mountains I had gotten by with eating almost nothing more than a few handfuls of Brazil nuts. We had a short weather window to approach and climb the massive Bugaboo Spire via it's Northeast Ridge--a classic climb that is not technically hard but is deceptively big. Speed is safety in the mountains where the grade of the moves are of less importance than the fickle weather which turns on a dime and can transform idyllic summits into lightning rods.

"I hate rushing. That's the only thing that makes a 2:30 AM start worthwhile" I thought as we trudged out of camp earlier that morning in the pitch black. Now I was looking at our time advantage evaporating as I checked my CGM like a nervous tic. I knew my blood sugar would come up but I also knew that the cold would slow my digestion. "We might be here a while. Are you sure this is a good idea to keep going?" I don't like starting a big day in the mountains on a low. Martin just nodded back quietly as we sat watching the dawn break over the horizon. The little pinholes of light creeping through the darkness across the glacier dimmed in the twilight and revealed themselves to be other climbing parties who eventually passed us as we sat.

Sometimes you can do everything right and still lose out.

Objective reality is that I am a type 1 diabetic. I can't change that. The story I tell myself about how type 1 diabetes impacts me, limits me or motivates me--that creates and shapes my reality. That is fully in my control. We tend to think of our story as a result of our reality or circumstances--not the other way around. We often see people getting irritated by the narrative that the public has about type 1 diabetes. It certainly can be frustrating but it's a lot less of a concern when we have fully engaged with the power that we each have to tell our own story rather than live in the shadow of someone else's. It doesn't matter if other people believe it--we tell it to ourselves so that we believe it and then we live it out in reality.

This concept really hit home while climbing in Canada with Martin--and that's what the eBook will really dig into--as well as the short film I am working on about our time in the Bugaboos. Remember that our Patreon supporters will have free access to this (and all future) eBooks I write as well as early access to the film as it goes through the various phases of production! Subscribing to our email list is a simple way to make sure you don't miss anything and stay up to date with our publishing and production.

 


tower of babel banff national park climbing

Food for the mountains and photos from the Tower of Babel

I wanted to put together a few of my favorite photos from the Tower of Babel because with so much media created it's not hard to lose a lot in the shuffle of moving on to the next thing! This is a short post and by the time you're reading it I'll be on my way into the backcountry for another adventure in the mountains--this time the Bugaboos! Martin and I are going for a larger objective than the Tower of Babel--the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire--which is beautiful and quite a long day. It will surely test our ability to move efficiently and cover a lot of ground.

Today we are packing up and gathering food--laying plans and tactics for the coming days. It's exciting to be returning  to the Bugaboos (which I haven't visited since Project365 in 2012) but it's also a little nerve wracking because once you're out there--you're out there and it's too late to pick up that one last item you left back at the trailer!

  • My breakfasts: a few spoonfuls of my peanut butter-sunflower seed and hemp seeds concoction, along with bulletproof tea (coconut oil with tea) and some cheese.
  • Snacks/Lunch: cheese and salami, Brazil nuts, jerky.
  • Dinner: Boullion soup, coconut oil, greens, cheese and tuna fish.
  • Glucagon, Clif bars, shot bloks and dark chocolate for emergencies/low BGs

I hope to be back out of the wilderness and reconnected by early next week with lots more photos and video to share. In the meantime, I hope some of these photos inspire you to get out and find some adventure of your own. There's a lot out there and it belongs to us all.

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activities in banff national park

Dance with the fear: Tower of Babel trip report

I feel as though I've been given a gift that is so precious that I don't deserve it. I almost feel guilty being able to experience these moments on the edge of my comfort in some of the most spectacular places on the planet. It's not just being there that is so meaningful it's the price we pay to dance with the fear. The people that we encounter on this hard road to nowhere become friends and mentors. The price is high but fair.

outdoor activities in Banff national park

set out to climb Tower of Babel in Banff National Park (near Lake Louise in Alberta) with Martin Fuhrer--a good friend and Type 1 companion since Project365 serendipitously brought us together. His father, Hans, who is now 80 had climbed this same formation many years ago and he recommended it highly. As a lifelong climber and former head of SAR (search and rescue) for Parks Canada, his suggestions always carry significant merit because many of todays classics were pioneered by Hans and his friends in the 60s and 70s--and he has many unrepeated first ascents in the backcountry that are staggering feats of effort even by modern standards.

tower of babel in banff national park

Waking up at 4 AM is never something I enjoy. "It will be worth it" I keep telling myself as I stagger around trying to get some semblance of breakfast together that will be fast, easy and compatible with my Ketogenic diet. A quick blood sugar check and I can see that I'm already off to a sub-optimal start. I'm higher than I want to be on waking (150) so I trim the meal to the bare essentials and take one unit of rapid acting insulin which will hopefully have left my system before we start the uphill grind to the base of the tower. Peppermint tea with coconut oil, cheese, almond butter and hemp seeds are my rations. I pack some eggs and more cheese for later on the climb, along with some Brazil nuts--which will ultimately stay in my pack for the entire day without being eaten.

A two hour drive puts us in the heart of Banff and we begin the approach. My blood sugar is still high (178) but I don't really care--it will come down soon enough and I'd prefer a little cushion with the steep hike ahead that will ultimately deposit us at the base of the 1,250 tower. Trying to describe a day of climbing is hard--and possibly not worth my time or yours beyond a certain point.

diabetes and climbing

It was hard at first and then it became easy. I think that's the heart of the matter--which is worth literally ALL of my time. Doing hard things is how we make them normal. Normal becomes easy and our limits shift. I keep thinking about this on the wall as I look repeatedly at my CGM watching my blood sugar--concerned about a shift or a drop that ultimately never comes. I wonder what it would be like to live without that concern, that fear. It's with me everywhere I go.

diabetic athlete steve richert

The illusion that I've transcended that fear because I choose to dance with it in the mountains sets my teeth on edge. I've read some misinformed bloggers who think that my climbing is about demonstrating conquest. In truth it's about the ritual of confronting my weakest self and watching the myth of conquest evaporate like morning mist. Here on the side of a cliff my fear is nearer and more present than ever. I hear it on the wind and it whispers worst-case what-ifs in my ear. The day that I conquer my fear is the day I will have no more use for climbing. I have no concerns about such a day ever arriving.

From the dance with fear comes joy. The gift. This is real--as real as high blood sugar. As real as the fear.

type 1 diabetes inspiration

type 1 diabetes inspiration

We push through to the summit and find Hans waiting for us--he hiked up a grueling gully to meet and congratulate us. We share details and memories of the climb in the way climbers do. I feel so much joy at the completion of the ascent, our ability to bring type 1 diabetes into the vertical world and our escort down the mountain. I joke with Hans that it's not often one gets escorted off a mountain by the (former) head of SAR under such pleasant circumstances. His laughter drifts back over his shoulder as he is already out and away down the trail, ahead of Martin and I.

Dance with the fear

Dance with the fear

I hope that I can find that much joy and strength in the mountains when I too am 80 years old.


support livingvertical

Crowdfunding: a frank discussion

LivingVertical isn't for everyone. It's for YOU. That's why I am asking you for the opportunity to make this mission, this message my full-time priority by pledging support for our work via our recently launched Patreon campaign. It's loaded with exclusive rewards which you can see for yourself, including our first foray into print media--The AdventureRx Journal. 

Over the past few years you've watched me attempt to juggle the disparate goals of supporting a family and creating revolutionary adventure media that can overthrow the limitations of type 1 diabetes.

I've decided to stop juggling.

I've committed to LivingVertical full time. That means sink or swim--a test that I've been able to protect LivingVertical from for years. I've worked many different jobs to support this effort myself and I don't regret keeping it on life support in order to get back to this point of giving it my full time focus. Now, the question is 'How long can I afford to maintain this commitment while supporting my family?'.

When I first began working to create empowering adventure films, blogs and photos in 2011 I had a sort of luxury of being free to live in the dirt. Literally. I took great pride in doing more with less. It felt rebellious to start taking a stand without asking for "permission" from corporate sponsors. Having basically no overhead made us hard to squash--like post apocalyptic cockroaches. I never anticipated success. When Project365 was completed there was too much momentum to just walk away from LivingVertical--but no pathway for sustaining a living from it either. I assumed that if LivingVertical was good enough some company would sweep me off my feet and give us the financial support required to ride off into the sunset creating inspiration and empowerment for the world at no cost.

I often have been told that "It would be great if  (insert drug/device company name here) sponsored you! Seems like you would be a great fit. Have you ever looked into that?" I have had some great relationships with sponsors in the past--but we never rode off together into the sunset. Short term engagements left me searching for ways to attract the next short term engagements. My focus couldn't be the work and the message. The message mattered to me and my audience--but it wasn't what was supporting me financially.

The reason I am attempting to crowd-fund the backbone of our support is because I want to change that. I believe that my audience and the message come first. Having audience support is what allows that freedom to exist.

No one is entitled to having an audience, let alone support from that audience. The fact that you're here with me means that I've been given a wonderful gift already. I have no intention of putting my work behind a wall and making it pay-to-play. I'm asking you for the opportunity to make the free, public work of LivingVertical bigger, better and more impactful.


ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia

Ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia

I wanted to write a technical post about a question I keep getting regarding the ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia. Even if you're not into the keto diet, I think you may find some useful ideas to make low blood sugar less invasive in the short term. I recently shot a series of videos about the ketogenic diet and diabetes as part of my daily YouTube vlogging and you can check those out and subscribe here.

My general goal in my diabetes management is minimalism. Minimal intervention, treatment and daily impact. The most basic manifestation of this is to aim for the use of less insulin, which can create greater blood sugar stability. This strategy led me to a low carb diet. The need to have athletic performance in addition to the blood sugar stability led me one step further to the keto diet.

Using less insulin and eating fewer carbs means that lows do still happen but less frequently and they are easier to handle. Consider driving an empty truck down a hill. It's going to be easier to stop than if it's loaded down and has greater momentum. The same concept applies to insulin loads and slowing the "drop" of blood sugar. Simply lightening the load can simplify control of the vehicle.
When a low blood sugar occurs, the treatment ideally involves matching an increase in BG to the proportionate decrease in order to balance the two out. Therefore all hypo treatments are not created equal, or one treatment does not fit all lows-- since different methods of raising blood sugar work differently.
One of the biggest obstacles to blood sugar stability is over correction of lows. Over correction can result from either the source of the treatment, the quantity of the treatment or a combination both factors. In other words, you don't have to eat the entire pantry to overcorrect and spike. Sometimes following the 15x15 rule (eat 15g fast carbs, wait 15 minutes, test, repeat as necessary) can still yield the dreaded spike--which is now that much harder to bring down because you don't want to overdo it and crash out--again.
The ideal treatment for a hypo is the smallest possible one. The hard part is figuring out how little you can get away with when you're churning with adrenaline, in a cold sweat and panicking.
I'm suggesting that instead of always prioritizing the fastest treatment, prioritize the method of least intervention--when it's possible to do so. There are certainly times when I'll take glucose tabs or "fast sugar" of some kind, but those are typically emergency lows, not more benign lows. I classify my low blood sugars based on how fast I'm dropping because that correlates directly to the severity. Fast lows are treated as an emergency with emphasis on survival. Slow lows are treated with and emphasis on controlling the spike. In my 17 years I've used direct sugar sources (juice, glucose tabs, honey, candy, shot bloks etc)  about 10-12% of all my lows, probably fewer than 150 "fast-low" incidents.
I draw on that experience to inform me as to what methods I should use to treat lows. This allows me to still correct low blood sugars without having them bounce high. I should add that as I've been on the Keto diet in the last year I've had ONE low that required fast sugar. The rest were managed with slower treatments that better matched the insulin action, resulting in little or no rebound spike (over 180mg/dL)
My go to treatments are all ones that CDEs would reject for having too much protein or fat: cashews, peanut butter, dark chocolate, ice cream (if I need more sugar but with a slower release), beef jerky. Obviously these won't work with large doses of insulin and their corresponding BG fluctuations. When you bring the doses down, fluctuations narrow down and you find that these types of foods will work better in parallel with the action profile of the insulin.
I've tried fast sugars in much smaller amounts but they always cause a spike and that rapid increase makes me feel like there's a brick in my stomach.
The question of how various hypo treatments impact ketosis leaves room for simple sugars as well as my preference of slower sugar. The amount of sugar (fast or slow) that it takes to raise a low while eating keto is relatively small and should not do more than possibly diminish ketosis for a few hours. I can frequently use protein to treat a low on the keto diet. Remember, more than the minimum required intake of protein will get converted to glucose--this is a sneaky fact that often wreaks havoc on unsuspecting people with diabetes! Treating a low blood sugar suspends ketosis temporarily and doesn't require you to go back through the arduous process of keto-adaptation. You can resume ketosis in 12 hours or less with no major adverse effects.
Treating diabetes is risk management. Tighter control creates its own risks as does loosening up and letting the numbers stray a little further from the ideal. Knowing when to shift gears is key and building the experience gradually and carefully is an important investment in long term health. This isn't a magic wand that will fix your blood sugar. It's self experimentation that will help you calculate your risk more effectively--but never eliminate it. I can't overemphasize the importance of looking at this process as an experiment. I'm presenting my results to encourage your own experimentation, not to replace any portion of it.

You can call me diabetic

You can call me diabetic

You can call me diabetic if that's what works for you. I won't call the language police to shut down communications. Silence doesn't help those of us living with this condition and it doesn't help the outside world deal more gracefully with admittedly difficult subject matter.

I'm not saying that words don't matter. Words do matter--not because of an inherent value in the words themselves but because of the context. Words matter because of how we interact with them. Trying to protect ourselves from terms themselves is asking the wrong question. Leaning into the effort of influencing context and controlling the narrative is proactive. It's something for which we can take responsibility. We can change what words mean through action. That starts with taking ownership in our own life. The point of this exercise is to change our perspective. The benefit to us is a better life, independent of the willfully ignorant.

Scrutinizing semantics shifts the focus outside of the things we control. Asking how we can break underlying ignorance seems closer to the mark. Person with diabetes, climber, diabetic, diabetic climber--are all accurate. None of those words makes me who I am. They don't define me--I define them. Doing that work is something I own--it's not something I'm willing to outsource. The heart of being successful with this disease involves questioning everything and being independent enough to formulate your own rules based on what works for you, not playing by rules handed down from internet authority figures or arcane medical tropes.

I'm aware that I'm asking you to freely reject my position as part of my platform. I'm no authority figure. I'm just one person. I'll choose to define the value of diabetes for myself, thank you. That includes all the words and the nomenclature that comes with it. It's my disease and I'll paint it any color I want.


controlling type 1 diabetes

Measuring what matters: effort over outcome

We do a lot of measuring in diabetes--but are we measuring what matters? As you may know, I've been on the east coast for about a week or so and I've been doing a little "experiment" that I'd like you to participate in. I am sharing a video each day--on my YouTube channel. It's been a great opportunity to work on my video story telling (starting with some lighter "cat videos" to get warmed up!) as I prepare for a big climbing project this fall and it's the pathway I am following as I push the message of empowerment and redefining the limitations of life with type 1 diabetes. I'm still sharing blogs because those are good outlets for photographs, opinion pieces and technical discussion-- but the play by play of my adventures--well, that's moving to a different stadium with more seating. I truly hope you'll subscribe to our channel and be part of a new frontier (new for LivingVertical) that we are navigating. These forays are always way better with friends.

During my time in New York City, I had a chance to meet up with a good friend and we did an informal interview for the vlog. It got me thinking about some of the common complaints and touch-points that I've been noticing a lot in the community. There's a tension between a segment of the diabetes community who think diabetes isn't that hard--and others who think it's basically impossible. I have been looking for years for a way to bridge that gap and inspire those who are burnt out--and borrow from the success I have had in order to equip those willing to fight on.

I know that it's cathartic to hear leaders in our community say that it's impossible to control our blood sugar. While I don't disagree with this assertion, I believe it's an incomplete message without equal priority being given to the things we can control. Effort is the focus. Effort is good or bad. Effort should absolutely be judged--because effort is one of the things we can control. Clear black and white language must apply to our self-review or else we will create loopholes to escape our responsibility.

I write this as a flawed, lazy and impatient person who spends a good deal of creative energy trying to trick my "future-self" into doing the right thing from the comfort of what will soon be the past. I'm not advocating open season on judging each other--since that process is already working out beautifully on Facebook in this harmonious political climate--but I'm saying that it's worth holding ourselves accountable. We are not delicate snowflakes that will wilt under the duress. We will grind our teeth at times and soldier on, better off for having done so.

I would ask you to stay the hands reaching for your pitchforks and torches--because the quality of the effort is not determined by the outcome. You can do everything right and get the wrong results. I've seen it happen in climbing, in losing friends to their own demons, in diabetes too, of course--and the only refuge we have is knowing that our best effort was given in the fight. Sometimes that must be enough.

I'll give a quick example. When I started LivingVertical, I got some pretty hateful comments from people who were complete outsiders. They judged my desire to use climbing to empower and inspire as being a flimsy publicity stunt that would ultimately detract from getting funding for real, meaty solutions like a "cure". My initial reaction was to say "What the hell?! I show up trying to give people this gift and I get kicked in the teeth?" It's true that my critics were trolls and they were completely out of line. It's also true that encountering that judgement gave me a moment to pause and examine what I could be doing or saying to increase the clarity of my purpose. It made me that much more committed to examining my own intentions. I avoided a lot of pitfalls because I did not want to do anything to validate the trolls.

Adjust expectations and emphasis to favor the effort and let go of the outcome. Then, choose your battle and fight like hell.


I was going to write about my switch to Toujeo...

I had pretty high hopes for a recent switch in my basal insulin. I've discussed it a bunch in my Vlog on YouTube and I promised to write about it here and give a full report. So here is my experience of Toujeo: it's Lantus in a different colored pen with an even sillier name. I didn't experience weight gain or an increase in the dose like some detractors had warned me about online. I didn't experience better or more stable blood sugars as some proponents had predicted. It was basically the same--same dose, same action, same stability. If there were any advantages gained in my switch they were imperceptible.

The one thing that this trial DID reinforce is the very perceptible benefit of splitting the dose of Lantus or Toujeo. I started off taking a full dose of Toujeo and found that it did exactly the same thing as Lantus in a single daily dose: lows up front then increasing blood glucose from hour 18-24. This left me chasing my numbers up and down the spectrum for more than half of the hours in a day. Once I returned to splitting my dose the stability in my numbers followed with it.

One needn't look very far on social media and diabetes forums to find people who will tell you that "injections suck" and that using a pump is inherently superior. I find that many of those who hold to this view never experimented with the nuances of basal insulin and failed to dial in their dosing. I readily admit that's why I didn't have a great experience on the pump. I took the "starter" settings and didn't get far beyond that point. Turns out that's a pitfall that occurs when using injections too.

My purpose in writing this isn't to compare shots vs pumps. I've already done that in this blog linked here. It's to share that in my experience, many times over, splitting a basal insulin into two half-doses daily makes a massive difference in terms of blood sugar stability. I have noticed more and more pumpers taking "breaks" and going back to injections and this technique could be very useful--and it's surprising to me how many doctors don't recognize that. I'd love to see a day when insulin that is advertised as "24-hour" insulin actually lasts that long. Come to think of it, I'd love to see a day when medication isn't wrapped up in marketing, period. In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently moving to trying Tresiba in hopes that it may at least be able to give me that full 24 hour duration. If there's anything to report, I will.

Ready for my disclaimer? Here goes: this blog post isn't paid content and all the opinions here are my own. I am 100% certain that the companies which manufacture and all of the drugs referenced here do not condone my blasphemy in the form of non-FDA approved usage of their products. They haven't asked me to provide an opinion nor have they paid me for this service. They also haven't paid me to shut up, so I'm still here ranting about how we can use older, cheaper therapies to get better results with a little ingenuity.


how do you make waterfall photographs

Out the escape hatch

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Creation is the opposite of destruction. If it were not for the destruction that type 1 diabetes threatened me with, I may never have seen the value in picking up a camera and creating something from the obstacles in my path. That's a big part of why climbing has always appealed to me as well. It's a process of creation, not just performance. It takes imagination and independence to solve physical problems.

You can't photograph what you haven't seen, a most poignant observation by one of my photographic mentors, David Duchemin- rings particularly true in a time when there are more photographs than ever. Perhaps the value is more in why we go to see these places rather than in the beauty of image alone. The meaning isn't just aesthetic. My vision is to be able to communicate that value with fewer and fewer words to assist the images.

Photographs are like a bank account where we store feelings and experiences for rainy days or to loan to others. They are an escape hatch from the present reality--a reminder that there is more out there to see and do. These particular images are from our time in Mono Lake and Devil's Postpile (California) as well as a few from Oregon and Washington. I look forward to opening this escape hatch wider in the future. It will be a long road to El Capitan and I expect to see many things along the way.


professional photography with an iphone

You can't stop the suffering; you can only use it.

I was recently asked on Instagram: "How do you deal with the emotional burden and sadness of living with type 1 diabetes?" This question is almost always presented in terms of how can we stop the suffering. I want to look at this differently: how can we use the suffering to build something bigger than the pain. I've been thinking about that question in the context of my own recent loss. I think the answers are the same regardless of the specific source of the suffering.

Acceptance: This is the missing link. Trying to substitute avoidance in its place is just kicking the can down the road. If you wake up each day wondering why you have to struggle with diabetes it's because it hasn't become normal. Yet. Some part deep down is expecting or wishing that the struggle is a bad dream and that you will wake up one day and return to an easier normal. That fantasy is often cultivated on social media and it's the surest path to misery and feeling every bump in this road that we are unable to exit. Once the battle is accepted type 1 diabetes stops being special. It stops standing alone, out of reach of all the solutions that seem to work for everything else. My diabetes isn't it's own thing. It's a facet of my climbing. My travel. My photography.

You have to fully let it in so that you can let it out. Struggle needs an outlet. Accepting diabetes fully allows it to access and permeate the conduits that inspire us--and we are no longer left playing the good against the bad. The hardship adds value to what we create, if we can recognize the need to let our adversary out to play.

Influence: I know that the term "control" in relationship to diabetes is inelegant because it sets us up for an unrealistic outcome. I don't intend to get into the technical aspects of managing blood sugar here. Still there is tremendous psychological value in exerting all possible influence over our health. Diet matters. Exercise matters. Lifestyle and happiness matter too. There is much we can't control and that is much more bearable if we are making the best use of the variables that we can control. It won't solve all your problems but you will certainly learn something and even if it improves one small facet of your life it's a win. Small wins add up.

Investment: As I wrote in an earlier blog, the only thing that endures beyond us is the way we make people feel. The "good shit" we create in our lives and the lives of others that they can hang onto when times are tough. The truth is that sadness is inevitable. There's no way to be happy all the time. There's no way to have stable blood sugar all the time. I'm meticulous with my diet and exercise and lifestyle and I can tell you that the sadness and "burden" is always there. The trick is that I don't expect it to be otherwise, so I make sure to set that burden aside at times so that I'm not buried beneath it. I fully feel the low points in order to move beyond them. I've given myself permission to be vulnerable but not to wallow.

This understanding of alternating periods can guide the way we invest the time we have. Between the waves of sadness we start to see opportunity and hope. We exploit those moments and expand them. The alternative is waiting for the undertow to return, cringing at the knowledge that we are powerless to stop its inexorable onslaught. We use that harsh truth as motivation to invest the moments between and put good things in the bank--because the inevitability of suffering will certainly make it worthwhile.

 

fuji 16mm f1.4 devils postpile national park

The whole world is trying to remove burdens. Remove suffering. We are told to think of that as a solution. I don't believe that's the case. Burdens are the foundations for the monuments we are building that will carry the legacy of what we stand for, long after we have fallen by the way. I don't climb things because it keeps me from being sad. I climb things because I know that I can't help but be sad at times--and when those times arrive, I need to look back at the photos of the joy and times spent in the mountains and they become windows beyond my current sadness. They are an outlet for my diabetes and an escape hatch for my soul; reminding me that there is a reason to go on because sadness is just a middle, not the end.