Right Place, Right Time

Doug and Mickey skinning up
Doug and Mickey farther up the road

Mickey Spades has no idea how lucky he is.  No matter how often I try to tell him why he is lucky, he never truly understands.  I can’t say I’m surprised by Mickey’s lack of comprehension, but I am surprised by how he misses the point. Let me explain: Mickey has been lucky enough to surround himself with a group of knowledgeable and active outdoor people, but more importantly he found a group that gets outside regularly and makes sure that he is brought on the many trips and outings that we go on.  Mickey Spades is at the stage in his climbing/skiing/hiking life where he really benefits from repetition, and having people to consistently go out with enables him to get his reps.

Looking off the top
Looking down the first steep

Doug and I were discussing today that the major challenge we faced when we were Mickey’s age was finding partners to do things with (other than drinking, that is).  While finding someone to go out to bar with on a Friday night was easy, finding someone to wake up early on a Saturday to hike or ski was extremely difficult.  At this stage of our lives neither Doug nor I had managed to tap into the world of outdoor athletes.  While we shared much of the drive and athleticism of Mickey Spades, neither of us were able to find someone to mentor us through our development as outdoor athletes.

Mickey Spades on the descent
Doug packing up for another run

Furthermore, Doug and I were forced through large stages of self-discovery.  Through necessity, trial and error, books, and magazines Doug and I learned about layering, proper packing, fitness, and other minor and major skills.  Because we lacked mentors, our learning curve was lengthened and our development slowed.  Mickey, however, has Doug, Luke, and myself as resources.  Mickey benefits from being able to observe how we do things, prepare for things, and how dress for things.  Because Mickey gets to use us as resources, his learning curve has been shortened helping him get from Point A to Point B much faster than Doug or I.

Mickey Spades telling us how his ‘wild’ night helps his skiing

The beauty of Mickey Spades is that he is not grateful for the advantage that he has been given, but rather sees it as a competition.  He in incapable of seeing that Doug and I are not competing with him, but trying to guide him.  Instead of slowing down and observing the lessons Doug and I are trying to bestow upon him, Mickey is in a hurry to be a faster hiker, stronger climber, and better skier than Doug or I.  Mickey fails to see that if he slows down and pays better attention he will quickly surpass both of us.  When I was Mickey’s age I had yet to even put on a pair of skis and it would be a few years before I laced up my first pair of rock shoes.

Me running a chute 

I often find myself wondering where I would be today given the advantages bestown upon Mickey Spades.  If I had been able to get the experience he has at his age, what challenges would I currently be seeking out?  Perhaps instead of skiing ‘The Stash’ I would be out in the Whites seeking new challenging lines on Cannon or Mount Washington, or maybe I would have gone to climb the Black Dike in favor of skiing.  We all have our own path, and my path began to take shape a little later than Mickey Spades’ and that is okay.  I only hope that Mickey does not waste the opportunity given to him.

Mickey running the same chute

Despite my jealousy of Mickey Spades’ advantages I am grateful to have him around.  Not only is he always available to do something, but he always psyched to get outside.  Mickey is stoked on the activities that we do and is driven to get better.  If Mickey’s ambition slows his development down a little, that is fine by me because it is another season that I am able hang in there before he surpasses my talents.  Hopefully, when he does he will let me tag along on his adventures.

Me running the finish