Interview as featured in The Sierra Club’s Green Life Blog

 

Sierra

Sierra: You begin your book by describing the adoption of Alta, your wolf-dog. Why start there?

DesLauriers:  Doing what I do in the mountains requires complete focus and intention. Many of my experiences with Alta, especially training myself to be alpha, required learning to harness that same complete, thorough focus. And that’s carried over for me with climbing and skiing. I have to be aware of the you-fall-you-die consequences that exist, but not to think about them too much. It’s similar to working with a wolf — you might get bitten, but you need to be able to look past the difficulty and focus completely on success.

 

What do mountains represent to you?

Freedom to be who I really am. On the mountain there’s no social boundaries, and no conventions. It’s very primal. You’re in nature; you’re a part of it. There’s something powerful about being able to navigate through a world that you’re not in control of. Mountains are where I gain a lot of clarity on my thoughts and intentions.

What can you tell us about fear and the role it plays in exploring?

One of my favorite quotes is by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun. “Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.” When you’re able to do things that conjure up fear, and when you’re able to move past them, it really does mean that you’ve become intimate with fear because you’ve figured out a way to work with it, or make it work for you. Just enough so that it doesn’t paralyze you.”

Higher Love, Skiing the Seven SummitsWhich particular story did you enjoy recounting most in Higher Love?

That’s tough, I really enjoyed the whole process. I love re-visiting the wolf chapters; I always cry. Another would be the total spontaneous, hilarious adventure of travelling to the north side of Mt. Elbrus [the highest peak in Europe]. Everything from bouncing along in the back of a Jeep eating fresh-picked strawberries to getting rescued by a bulldozer, to the Pellegrino-quality water bubbling out of the river. The adventure of travelling in Russia and then combining that with the objective of climbing and skiing was just really fun to re-live.

What’s the take-home message of Higher Love?

I hope Higher Love inspires people to allow themselves to be in touch with what it is they truly want to do. And then inspires them to go after it, regardless of whether it seems easy or possible or of any social convention.

What’s your next quest?

I have many objectives here locally in the Tetons. More focus on climbing and skiing challenges this spring, but here in my backyard instead of internationally. I’ve also recently done a few expeditions to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I’m really in to being an advocate for the Arctic and raising awareness of what an amazing place it is.

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CAN YOU NAME ALL SEVEN SUMMITS?

The Seven Summits are the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. Below is the chronological order of the mountains Kit DesLauriers summitted. Can you match the following mountains to the continents they belong to?

 

Denali; 20, 320 feet

Elbrus; 18,510 feet

Kosciuszko; 7,310 feet

Vinson Massif; 16,050 feet

Aconcagua; 22,841 feet

Kilimanjaro; 19,341 feet

Mount Everest; 29,028 feet

 

Answers: North America, Europe, Australia, Antarctica, South America, Africa, Asia.