I can't do this, the exhausted mountain climberthought. There is no way I'll ever make it. This admission hit his heart like ahammer driving a spike deeper into the ground. This man in the past was knownaround the world for his mountain-climbing skills. Now, at 57, he finds it hardto do anything, much less scale a snow-covered mountain. In an attempt torediscover his youth and restore his vitality, he decided to scale the mosttreacherous, deadly mountain in the world.
Now he finds himself caught inthe midst of a blinding snowstorm and weak from the hundreds of feet he hadclimbed. Reaching into his pocket he pulls out a picture of his daughter, not arecent photo, but one when she was 10 years old. In it, he and his daughter siton the edge of a cliff on top of the rolling hills near their house. His daughterhas a smile from ear to ear because she had hiked with her hero, her Dad. Thosewere the best days of his life. A time of happiness, a time before the divorce, atime filled with joy. The first and last time he felt the icy grasp of failuregripping his heart was when he lost custody of her. His ex-wife moved anddisappeared from his life forever - with his daughter.
Glancing up fromthe picture, the man, almost frozen to the ledge, realizes he cannot quit, cannotgive in to the numbing cold. He must prevail not only for himself but for hisdaughter, who had thought of him as a hero so many years ago. With all the powerhe has left, the man starts to move. As he begins his ascent, a gust of windravages the mountainside, almost knocking him off. Rage floods his mind and in anact of anger he shouts out, "You will not defeat me!" At a pace that defiesdescription, the mountain climber again makes his way up the mountain and takeshis first steps toward inner peace.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.