Illustration by Tim Marrs
Q: My husband and I are avid climbers—only he sprints, and I meander. Minor bickering aside, this is fine for day trips, but we’re headed up Kilimanjaro soon, and I’m worried about our teamwork. Advice?
A. Dasher vs. Dawdler: a classic backcountry matchup. Trying to change each other will only lead to couples therapy, so I’ll spare you (and your insurance company) the expense by dispensing a trite but true adage: Walk a mile in each other’s crampons. In short, empathize and compromise—or quit climbing in tandem.
Dashers often miss that rare moustached green tinkerbird or vivid lichen hiding in plain sight. And Dawdlers—including myself—risk finding themselves huddled in a snow cave at sundown, a thousand feet shy of the summit. “You have to realize that time is limited and that, for safety’s sake, you need to be as efficient as possible,” says top American alpinist and 25-year Mount Rainier guide Ed Viesturs. “Meandering is fine while hiking, but in the mountains speed is safety.” Without guides like Viesturs rushing us across treacherous glaciers before the sun makes them slick or up slab routes to avoid rockfall dislodged by climbers above, we’d never get through unscathed, much less experience magnificent peaks. Then again, my dash up a big mountain in the Himalaya to view the five sacred peaks of Kanchenjunga was rewarded with cold, wet fog on the summit that, Murphy’s Law, cleared on our descent. Sprint and meander, then, as the situation requires. Just remember that on Kilimanjaro, as in life, the important thing is the journey—and a healthy relationship.
- Nat Geo Expeditions