So I went for this run, up a familiar trail and over a few mild peaks. Climbing one more peak took me into new territory and into some interesting rock formations just crying out for exploration. Explore I did, climbing up rocks that required some skill, but not much (don’t have much) until I found myself at the top of the peak, looking out over vast acres of familiar canyons and tempting new ground.
If you’ve ever gone exploring like this, you might be able to guess how this ended. I got up there, so I should be able to get back down. But a safe way eluded me. I walked from one side of the peak to the other, but I couldn’t figure out where I had come up. I’ve wondered before how hikers end up stranded on a ledge. They got up there, why don’t they just get back down the same way?
Now I know.
The gift of speed that inspired my name is about equal to my gift of grace. I made it back down more or less unscathed, crab-walking, butt-sliding, scree-skating, an overall awkward scramble that would be an internet sensation if there was video.
Once back on the trail I looked back up at the peak. I felt some relief, but mostly I felt that overwhelming sense of some fabulous accomplishment; that intense adrenaline rush as I considered what might have happened, the danger and potential for injury that I had somehow avoided.
So, yeah, I totally get the appeal of Sky Running
Sky Running, in case you don’t know, is a combination of trail running and mountaineering. It is performed by some immortals (like Kilian Jornet, National Geographic’s 2014 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year) that probably don’t have to do a lot of butt-sliding.
Okay, it’s probably performed by a lot of people. The trail running community is full of fabulously talented athletes, crazy amateurs, and drunken dare-takers.
So the question is: Is Sky Running, performed on technical mountaineering routes but with little or no technical gear, inspiring or reckless?
If you are a Sky Runner with a two-month-old baby at home, with a mother given to anxiety over your exploits (hint: don’t tell her!) or on a first name basis with ER nurses, you may be leaning into the irresponsible range.
If you are experienced in both climbing and trail running, pretty good at staying upright in most situations, and can count on only one hand your experiences that have gone hilariously awry, you’re probably okay.
I mean, how often are we truly equipped for the adventures we begin? I have a trash bag for emergency shelter, a knife, and a book of dry matches with me whenever I run. I consider these reasonable precautions for my area. I would have to take a loaded-down burro to prepare for every possible problem.
Sometimes you are all the gear needed. If you understand your limitations and are willing to be flexible rather than foolhardy, chances of completing an adventure are good. If you survived an adventure, you apparently had all the equipment you needed, even if it was just running shoes and determination.
So, is Sky Running reckless? Well, obviously.
Inspiring? Hell yeah.