Six of my friends had died during a short period in various expeditions, and I had been injured for over half a year, unable to walk and sleep. My friends had been killed in events ranging from avalanches and rope that had broken broke 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, had now ended in sorrow and an undignified ending to my love for climbing.
At this moment of tragedy and mourning, I attempted to swap Gore-Tex garments and ice axes for a suit, tie, and PowerPoint presentations. However, that 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 think I put myself in great danger have not seen the world. What I do is relatively safe compared to the struggle for survival that many people in the world are fighting for daily. We will all die someday, and avoiding the topic, by all means, will not make you happy. For me, it's paramount to find peace in the notion that I will die someday, 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 is just going to give you mediocre results. But mentioning this in "the land of normal" (Sweden) is like screaming out load loud that "I'm an atheist" in the rural USA."
My expeditions are far from do-or-die missions; neither are they 100 percent safe. My philosophy - “no mountain view is worth dying for” has kept me alive, and if there is doubt, there is no doubt. At that point, I turn around to make sure I see another day.
Perhaps my passion for climbing derives from the fact that I've always feared heights. Finally, I had the means to confront the trauma head-on. I rather enjoy my precious time on the planet instead of spending life in survival mode. For me, climbing is about mindfulness, like opening up your eyes for the first time, like going from black & white to colour TV. I realize that a lot distracts me from what's essential in life. I'm thankful for the moments when I climbed and woke up. Society will always be fascinated by people who perform daring things. So am I.
"Society was never built for adventurers. Nature is".
Face your fears. Think less and chase your dreams.
With kind regards
Alpinist / Motivational Speaker / Coach
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Fredrik Sträng on the summit ridge of Broad Peak in July 2018. Photo: David Roeske