I’ve got pretty good self-esteem, and a really shitty self-confidence. I know it sounds weird, but that is how I work. While I feel pretty confident that my inner me is good enough, I always, always doubt what it is that comes out from my inside. My accomplishments. It doesn’t matter if it’s what I produce at work or on a canvas, or what I can do on a bike or on skis. I never know if I can do it or if what I have done is good enough.
Being incompetent in judging skill level and performance on things like work and sport is a drag, but it isn’t the end of the world. In avalanche terrain, not knowing what you know or if your evaluations are good enough may very well be the end of it all…
I have tried to learn as much as I can about avalanches ever since I started going out into the backcountry. I have read book after book, I have read scientific and less scientific articles, and I have taken courses but I’ve still found it hard to rely on my own judgment.
Avalanche hazard is such an immensely complex thing. I find it extremely hard to handle and I don’t expect to ever grasp it completely.
When I took the avalanche instructor course level 1 in January, I got one advice from my instructors – stop reading and start doing, and so this is what I have tried to do over the past 5 months. Placing one ski boot in front of the other, I have tried to learn how to decipher my rational concerns from irrational terror. I have fought my monsters, and somehow I think I’ve managed to win one or two boss fights. Because during the past month, I have found myself venturing into the backcountry with people of equal or less experience than I have.
A few years ago (even before the accident) I would never have dared doing such a thing. Going into avalanche terrain without “experts” by my side means that I put myself in the position where I can’t validate my judgments against the one’s made by someone who I trust “knows more”.
That is seriously scary shit.
Even though the tours that I’ve done are standard routes and even though snow conditions have been very favorable, I feel like giving myself a big warm pat on the shoulder. By the age of 39, I’ve started growing up. Better late than never.