The Illusion of Fear

Updated: Nov 11

My mindset approaching the summit of the tallest mountain on Vancouver Island, the Golden Hinde.

The Golden Hinde over looking the valley used to approach the summit


The night before summit day I just sat there staring up at the mountain. Not in awe, fascination, or wonder, but pure terror. Mountains scare the shit out of me. Rocks break. Rocks fall. What if I slip. What if the weather changes. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking of everything that could go wrong, reminding myself that I don’t do this. I have barley summited any mountains, never mind the tallest on Vancouver Island. I am not a mountaineer or a climber, I just like the challenge. But this felt like I may be pushing my luck a little too far. I almost decided to stay back at camp partially out of fear and partly because I didn’t want to hold the crew back from reaching the summit because I didn’t know what I was doing. I went to bed scared, knowing I couldn’t try.

I wake up the next day, lace up the shoes and just started walking, trying to let the stoke out the way the fear. Trying not giving myself a chance to overthink it. We made it to the base of the summit and it was time to make the final push. We made our way up lose rock until the final gully. We began to climb on all fours as the loose rock turned into bluffs before the summit. I noticed that I was no longer scared. I was focused on. 9 hours before I couldn’t think of anything but falling and now I couldn’t think of anything but climbing. Handhold, step, handhold, step. Each passage passed dosed me with more confidence and before I knew it we were standing on top of Vancouver Island.

What was I scared of? It wasn’t the mountain. It wasn't the distance. It wasn’t even falling off the mountain. I was scared of my imagination. I was scared about the scenarios my mind was making up that had not even happened yet. If there is anything more ridiculous than resenting the past, it is resenting the future. Why? Because it is impossible to resent the future. How can I be scared of something that isn’t even real yet? This is what fear is. Fear is your minds way of keeping you out of danger by creating an illusion, a daydream, an imagination, that something bad will happen to you if you do something out of your comfort zone.

Why are we only scared of some things and not others?

Before this mountain, I had summited two other mountains in all of Canada, which isn’t that much considering I have always lived near or among mountain ranges. The two mountains I did summit were day hikes that didn’t require much more than walking uphill for a long period. So why was I not scared to do those? They were still mountains. I could still fall off them. What was the difference? The difference was that for Golden Hinde, I was the least experienced in the group. The difference was that this mountain was ‘the tallest’ in the area. The difference was that I considered this mountain out of my league before I even stepped foot onto it. The difference was my mindset.

In most cases, especially in the case of mountains, having respect for the difficulty and danger of the task is extremely important to make sure you make it out alive. But respect is different than fear. Respect is confidence in yourself that you are aware of the risks and difficulties yet believe you are capable of overcoming them. Fear is your lack of confidence creating fake scenarios of what will happen if you fail. The difference was that I had respect and confidence for the mountains I had summited before and feared the difficulties that would come with summiting Golden Hinde. Not because of the difference in difficulty, but because the illusions my mind was created to discourage me from leaving my comfort zone.

Respect and fear are extremely different yet eerily similar. They both make us question our intentions. They both make us take a step back and consider if our intentions are worth the risk. The difference is one pushes you to grow and one holds you back.

Keep scrolling to see some photos from the journey.

Beginning the summit approach

View from camp on second night

Going up the scree field before the summit

sunrise the day of summit attempt