“Don’t look up at the summit or the mountain will beat you.”
That was my friend, Jim’s, advice the first time the two of us tried to bike up Mount Tamalpais in Northern California. Jim’s counseling proved to be very insightful; Mt. Tam’s summit just never seemed to get closer, no matter how long we climbed. It was dispiriting and I almost quit half a dozen times.
Fortunately, not all mountains taunt and tempt you with unreachable summits. Take Mt. Tsurugi in Shikoku, Japan, for example. My buddy Adam and I arrive in the parking lot at about 11am and park right next to the ropeway. After paying for our tickets, we settle into our decidedly low-tech “ski-lift” seats that resemble green, plastic buckets and slowly rise up the mountain, as jolly music blares from a loudspeaker. From the drop off point ¾ of the way up the mountain, it’s a mere 45-minute ascent to the summit.
Now that’s the way to climb a mountain!
Whether we “earned” it or not, the view from atop Tsurugi-san is pretty spectacular: mile after mile of dense-green valleys and windy blue rivers. We settle down on a bench and enjoy our onigiri rice balls, purchased from a local conbini (convenience store) in town.
Not every mountain climbing adventure has to be Mt. Everest (or Mount Tam). Sometimes it’s nice to give yourself a treat and have the hard work done for you. Sometimes you get to get to beat the mountain!
(As over-achievers, many of us insist on doing things the hard way—and there is virtue in the approach, especially when you’re young and measuring your wingspan. But don’t forget to give yourself a break now and again. Get a massage, or a pedicure, or whatever makes you feel pampered. Take the ropeway.)