As we grow up, life tends to gain complexity. We start to understand more of the things around us, the things that are adjacent to the things that we do and the way that we interface with the web of the world around us increases in complexity. When I was 20 years old, the vision for what I wanted in life basically ended at like 30. And at some point, I managed to stretch out that timeline to a point where it was like, "What do I want to do when I'm 50?" Or, "Wow, let's think about retirement." And when you start stretching out that timeline, the decisions you make in the moment really have to shift.
Now people like Steve Swenson or Mark Richey have become the people I look up to, my mentors. They’ve found that balance between climbing—climbing hard, climbing well and climbing a lot—and also having a positive influence on society. Also being a good parent, also being a good romantic partner, also being a good business partner. And my inspiration is not just based on, "Oh, how hard of a pitch can you climb? How much fear can you deal with in the mountains?" It's more like, "How can you manage to balance that hard climbing in which you're not hanging it out there too far, but still achieving? And also doing all this other stuff to live a balanced life and be a good person." And I think that's a lot harder to do. It takes a lot more intention.
I first met Steve when he was in his mid 50s, and he owned a place in Canmore, seemed to be pretty comfortable, and was hosting the youngsters to come stay with him and giving them all the beta. Steve still climbs very hard—maybe not climbing the hardest, but he's the one who's passing on the tools, creating the opportunities for the next generation. And I thought, Man, that's what I want. I want to be making the world a better place. I want to be fostering the next generation of alpinists. I want to be giving them the tools to survive and thrive. So I started looking at climate policy, looking at social justice, equity and accessibility.
My first expedition with Swenson, he basically sat me down for three months and just gave me all the tools, we just talked through them all summer. Like how to not fuck it up. And I came back and started trying to apply them. And then for the next two years, or every other year for the next four or five years, we went on expeditions together and it felt like we would just go review. And this isn't just relationship stuff—this is everything from business to working with nonprofits, all sorts of stuff. He's twice my age, and spent a lifetime figuring this out, and had some really good mentors. And I just quizzed him on it and adapted that to my own life.