Listen to your Gut – Montreal Gazette

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June ThompsonPosted by: June Thompson

Last month I wrote about Montrealer Ted Fairhurst and his personal goal called the 7 Summit Challenge, to climb the highest mountain on every continent



He recently climbed number 6, Mount Elbrus in Russia and immediately after that went to the Pamirs for the 7th and final challenge.

When I interviewed Ted, we spoke about the importance of listening to your gut. “It’s always right” he told me.

I had an email from Ted earlier today.

In preparing for his last climb all kinds of things went wrong.  His partner om the trip had to cancel, he was bumped from his flight  and for the first time ever, Rosanna, Ted’s siginificant other, would have preferred he not do this last climb. That has never happened before.

It was too late to cancel so he went ahead anyway and began the ascent.

Things changed however: here is an excerpt from hig blog.

Lying in my tent the first morning at ABC I heard that unmistakably crack – avalanche. Poking my nose and camera out the tent door, I saw it coming down right over our route to Camp 2. I have heard over the years hundreds of them, yet they still raise the hair on the back of my neck. That day we did an acclimatization hike up a nearby steep slope for another 400m.

Six-thirty next morning we left camp and crossed over onto Lenin Glacier to the foot where 1000 vertical meters of solid glacier climbing begins. We put on our crampons, shedded layers and climbed. I realized that the whole route above that point to where Camp 2 is crammed onto the rocks and crevassed ice hugging a steep rock wall was avalanche prone. Although distracted with the focus of climbing and the sweat from muscle pain in low oxygen and hard breathing, avalanche was never too distant in my thoughts. One hour after arriving at Camp 2 another avalanche came down over the route we had just crossed.

Nothing was working in my mind on this climb. I have never experienced this before climbing. My heart was not into it. I was not having fun . My gut told me to stop. I don’t like quitting but I believe in listening to your ‘gut’. Your gut tells the truth without bias.

It was really not easy to make this decision. I labored over it for hours. I went into Sergey’s tent at dinner and tried to explain to him my decision. He speaks very little English. He knew I was climbing strong. Why? I think he eventually understood. Although relieved, it was really really hard doing this. It is not my character.

Interesting, I think, how little messages were being sent his way (all the things that went wrong) but at the end of  the day he listened to his instincts and that’s what matters.

All those climbs are most impressive Ted. Job well done


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