Reaching the Top – A Lesson in Sustained Effort

My sixteen-year-old daughter, Ana, and I have a shared passion for climbing mountains. We are not so epic that we climb with ropes or specialized gear (although we’d like to try that next year), but we do prefer the challenge of scrambling over hiking. The difference being that, when scrambling, sometimes you need to use both your hands and feet to climb, whereas if you are only hiking, your feet can do all the work.

Earlier this summer, we decided to tackle Big Sister located near Canmore, Canada. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and the views from the top were sure to be amazing. We loaded up our water, bear spray, and some food, and made our way to the trailhead. With some hesitation due to her fear of heights, my wife Heidi decided to join us for the day.

The first portion of the climb was really just a hike, albeit a bit of a steep one. However, just over halfway up, we entered the scramble zone – and this is when the going got tough. Heidi abandoned the effort shortly after we reached this section, but my daughter was determined to persevere and reach the summit. So, Heidi said her farewells while Ana and I continued on.

What lay ahead was some of the most difficult steep scrambling either of us has ever done. Along the way, we began to talk about the importance of not breaking for too long, and continuing on in spite of our aches and pains. The last portion of the climb was difficult and sometimes frustrating, but after about five hours of effort and 4000 feet of elevation gain, we reached the top.

Ironically, after all that effort we only spent about fifteen minutes at the top (as is often the case when climbing any mountain). Then back down we went. We found Heidi along the way and after another two hours made it down the mountain.

Here was the lesson of the day: most of the meaningful or important things we accomplish do not happen in fleeting moments of exertion. Rather, they are achieved through continuous and sustained effort. The secret to achieving our dreams and goals requires us to sustain our effort – to continue on, even when it would be easier to stop. My encouragement for you is the next time you “climb a mountain,” remember the importance of sustained effort. Keep moving and finish what you start!


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Randy Grieser, Author, Speaker

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