A new approach to #40by40

Back when I first started dreaming about this quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I

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Mt Ngauruhoe in the background – on the list for next year

spent an age on Google getting whipped up in the excitement of rugged volcanic landscapes, bubbling lava, snow-capped cones, and wilderness and vistas as far as the eye could see.

 

I put together a grand list of 40 volcanoes – they were dotted on practically every corner of the globe; some on islands in the middle of the ocean, others in remote and often exotic locations, requiring days of trekking to reach. Many were active, with lava lakes or hissing vents. And more than several were majestic in their height, taking on the craggy peaks in the French Alps, and promising winter mountaineering experiences.

It was a dizzying list. Just looking at it made me giddy, bursting with adrenalin and excitement. Continue reading

Volcano number 3: The erupting volcano

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That moment I got up close and saw my first active erupting volcano will stick with me.

I was in the Aeolian Islands, just north of Sicily, gorging myself on quite possibly the world’s best pizza, when suddenly everyone in the restaurant went wild, turning and pointing behind us. Paula, beside me, ferociously grabbed my arm and demanded me to “look, look, look”. Continue reading

The motivation behind the #40by40 volcano quest

When I first embarked on my quest last year to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I was img_0842driven by the desire to challenge myself, push myself outside my comfort zone and find my full potential. Ultimately, I was in search of a new me, to find out who I really was and what I was capable of.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the year and a half since I started this journey of self discovery has been a bit of a rollercoaster. The mental challenge to start and continue has been immense, and it’s been a shock and something of a revelation as to how my mind works and how much I doubt myself and my abilities. And that is incredibly depressing, which really just adds further fuel to the self-doubt fire, becoming a vicious cycle of self-doubt heaped on self-doubt. Continue reading

Volcano number 2: The muddy volcano

The jungle on Nevis Peak
“That was your warm up. Now you climb.”
Those were the words of our buff 57-year-old guide as we stood in a scraggly jungle of moss-covered trees, vines and ferns, staring at a criss-cross ladder of tree roots that ascended heavenward. We’d been walking up hill for the past 20 or so minutes, going deeper into the thick lush bush that carpeted the slopes of the volcano dominating the small Caribbean island Nevis. If I wanted to get to the summit in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, then the only way was up.

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Facing negativity

Some people – namely the boyfriend – would say I have a negative mindset. I would argue I’m just realistic. But when I came up with the stupidly ambitious idea to set myself a quest of climbing 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I think I was neither negative nor realistic. I was in the realm of wishful thinking. 
Having missed by target to climb volcano number two before the end of this year, while also excelling at procrastinating on all other research, planning and preparation for next year’s volcanoes (now eight after failing to climb Mt Teide this year), I have spent the past couple of weeks mopping about feeling sorry for myself.
But what a kick up the backside a work Christmas party can be. The conversation with a former work colleague went something like this:

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Time to stop making excuses and just start

Right now I should be getting excited about what should be an impending trip to the tropical island paradise of Tenerife, one of the seven islands that make up the Canary Island archipelago off the west coast of Morocco. There, I was intending to make an ascent of volcano number two, Mt Teide, in my #40by40 quest.
But I’m not going.

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Volcano number 1: The volcano virginity taker

Woohoo, I have lost my volcano virginity. First volcano climbed before the age of 40 in my #40by40 quest. Tick.
Mt Vesuvius, Italy
It feels good to be able to say that.


It would feel even greater to say I strived against the odds to reach the summit (cue violins playing in the background). But I have a secret…. My climb to the top of Mt Vesuvius, Italy(1,281m), was a bit of a cop out.

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The #40by40 volcano quest is on

Sure sitting in a cushy office and working the nine-to-overtime drill provides a degree of stability and routine, not to mention financial security, but there are downsides. For one, it can give rise to complacency. It’s easy to perhaps find yourself no longer challenged or you become comfortable with the situation – even if it’s not what it’s cracked up to be – just because you might be scared of change or can’t be bothered with the extra effort that comes with challenge and growth. In the end you’re at risk of becoming bogged down by the daily grind of it all. You become stagnant.

The thing is you may not even realise until you find yourself pondering life. Are you happy? Who are you? What makes you tick? What have you achieved in your life? What do you regret? What is your potential? What are you capable of? What can challenge you to find this out?

It’s the making of the all-too common identity crisis.

And what’s more, it doesn’t have to strike when a milestone birthday is looming. A wedding, a breakup, a death: all of these can trigger a bout of anxiety and self-doubt and the realisation that life is too short.
As I sat on an empty commuter train home after being the last to leave the office (again), the setting sun already cocooned in the blanket of night, I found myself pondering.

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