”I will never climb an 8000 m mountain again.”
Six of my friends had died during a short period of time in various expeditions and I had been injured for over half a year unable to walk or sleep. My friends had died in everything from avalanches, rope that had broken to execution by Pakistani radicals disguised as military. What once started as a dream when I was sitting in the classroom, looking at the atlas searching for the highest mountain on the planet, now had ended in sorrow and an undignified ending to my love for climbing.
My attempt to swap Gore-Tex garments and ice axes to a suit, tie and PowerPoint presentations seemed like a complete waste of my life. It didn’t take long before thoughts of returning to the mountains occupied my mind.
Those in Sweden who thinks that I put myself in great danger have not seen the world. What I do is relatively safe in comparison with the struggle for survival that many people in the world are fighting for on an everyday basis. We are all going to die someday and avoiding the topic by all measure is not going to make you happy. For me its paramount to find peace in the notion that I am going to die some day, and death is my ultimate tool for sound judgment and empowering decisions.
"I believe that "normal" is an excuse for being lazy because striving for normal just going to give you mediocre results.
But mentioning this in "the land of normal" = Sweden is like screaming out load that "I'm an atheist" in USA".
My expeditions are far from do-or-die missions neither are they 100 % safe. But my philosophy: no mountain view is worth dying for, have kept me alive and if there is doubt there is no doubt. Then I turn around to see another day.
Perhaps my passion for climbing derives from the fact that I’ve always been scared of heights. Finally, I had the means to confront the trauma in a functional way. I rather enjoy my precious time on the planet instead of spending a life in survival mode. For me climbing is about mindfulness, like opening up your eyes for the very first time, like going from black & white to colour TV. I realize that so much distracts me from what’s really important in life. I’m thankful for the moments when I climbed and woke up. Society will always be fascinated about people who perform daring things. So am I.
"However, society was never built for adventurers. Nature is".
Face your fears. Think less and chase your dreams. And you know, I’m still scared of heights.
With kind regards
Alpinist / Motivational Speaker / Guide
Fredrik Sträng on the summitridge of Broad Peak in July 2018. Photo: David Roeske