The Hard Thing About Mountains

I love (and I mean really love) climbing up mountains and skiing down them.

I've just got back from a four day trip with two friends where we traversed a section of the Alps on the borders of Italy and Switzerland. We stayed in mountain huts and carried our gear. We trekked with our skis on up over cols and climbing to summits to then ski down over the glaciers.

During the trip I was reading "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz on my phone. Much of his book shares his learning and advice having been a startup CEO. It's a great read and I thoroughly recommend it.

This cocktail of long uphill mountains treks and non-fiction, meant I had plenty of headspace to reflect. It occurred to me that there were many parallels between what I was reading and what I was doing.



It's hard

I had a headache from the altitude. I was carrying a 15kg pack for 8 hours a day. We awoke at 5.30am to be on the snow at daybreak. I didn't shower for 4 days. My sleep was broken from the altitude and we shared bunk beds. My legs and shoulders hurt. At one point I had to tell my legs to shut up and was thinking of just getting through the next 10 metres at a time. "Shut up legs, shut up legs, shut up legs", I chanted to myself. I had to face my inner demons and fears as we traversed exposed slopes, crevassed glaciers. I was out of my comfort zone on exposed peaks and my stomach wobbled with vertigo.

But worth it

The views from the top were stunning. The sense of achievement of reaching our goals was a rush. The skiing was sensational. The camraderie on the journey, the shared memories were priceless. The sense of building skill and expertise was rewarding.

We're already planning the next trip.

Just like a startup?

Facing fears head on and testing your courage to achieve a goal - that's exactly what building a startup is like.

  • There are times when it is painful. Pushing through the pain requires passion
  • It's important to have a summit in mind but break the journey into achievable steps
  • You choose your route based on the prevailing conditions and are prepared to adapt accordingly
  • You travel at the speed of the slowest in the group
  • You look after each other
  • If you don't enjoy testing yourself you won't make it.



Of course, you could just sit in the valley and wonder.

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