Students from St Elizabeth Ann Seton have asked our team a series of very thoughtful questions. We thought we’d post them on our blog for all of you to read and learn from. We’ve been corresponding with their teacher Yolanta Krawiecki for a few weeks now and deeply appreciate the thoughtful questions asked by all of her students. Enjoy!
Do you enjoy climbing the dangerous parts? E & K
Difficult doesn’t have to mean unpleasant. I try to look at challenge as an opportunity to grow. To surpass my limits. There were a few moments where I looked down and realized that I could not make a mistake otherwise I would fall a very long way and really hurt myself. Moments like these were the most difficult, but also my favourite moments because they presented me with a chance to overcome a fear and now I’m a better climber because of it.
How old were you when you climbed your first mountain? M
My first climb was in 2006 on Mt. Everest, I was 27 years old. I bought a Mt. Lhotse permit which is a mountain that neighbours Mt. Everest. I went as far as camp 2 on Everest, which was my goal.
What was your first thought when you lost control of your paraglider? C and T
In my mind, when I lost control, my first thought was I needed to recover my glider and regain control. Once I saw that I was rapidly losing altitude, I threw my reserve parachute. In that moment, I was certain I was either going to die or that my life would be forever changed in some terrible way. It was terrifying.
How do you plan your routes? N and N
I have been using ESRI 3D maps 50% of the time. I have also been taking high res photographs from a distance and magnifying the routes on my laptop. Pasang Kaji and I work together on this as a team and talk through all possibilities and scenarios. I often ask too many questions to make sure to challenge the plan. 2 ideas are always better than one. It’s important to respect everyone’s thoughts, even if you don’t agree with them. The evolved leader is confident enough to know that they’re not always right and can accept that other people’s ideas might be better. Below are a few examples. The first one was created by a student just like yourself.
How many mountains have you summitted? C
I’ve summited approx. 10 mountains, including Mt. Everest, twice.
Which mountain would you like to climb before you retire? M?
I’d like to climb K2 in Pakistan. It’s the 2nd highest mountain on Earth and much more difficult than Mt. Everest. Also, I’m not retiring any time soon! 😉
How do you go to the bathroom in the mountains? A
We set up a blue bucket and pile rocks around it to create a bit of an altar. A small blue tent is then set up for privacy. At night, when it’s very cold and we don’t want to get out of our sleeping bags (for #1) we use a pee bottle which we empty out in the morning. It’s never fun!
Do you get nervous before your travels? K
I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but I am always aware that there is a level of danger with all of my climbing expeditions on 8000m mountains. The awareness is a good thing, just like fear is a good thing.
Are you sometimes afraid when you climb M and B:)
This particular expedition has me on high alert at all times because it’s a very dangerous climb. I believe fear that fear is a survival mechanism. If you ignore it, you’re probably going to get in a lot of trouble. But if you manage it, listen to it, deal with it an make smart decisions in terms of how you work with it, then it can be a very positive feeling. Sometimes it’s fabricated, other times it’s very real. It’s important to know the difference between the two.
Does your fiance Amanda enjoy climbing with you? M
Amanda is not a climber. 😉 She is incredibly supportive back home. She’s my rock.
What was your most memorable climb? A and M
My favourite climb was my first Mt. Everest summit in 2010. You should watch the webseries with your class. You can find it on my website, it’s a 12-part series called which you can also watch and experience here: Expedition 2010 – FindingLife on Mt. Everest
What was the deepest snow you’ve ever climbed in on a mountain? -Q, M and J
This is the deepest snow I’ve ever climbed in. You don’t generally climb in deep show on 8000m mountains. It’s too difficult. The loose and fresh snow creates a lot of avalanche danger, which is something we are very worried about here. The Monsoon season has been relentless.
How do you stay motivated while climbing? U
Before any climb I always clearly define my ‘why’. What I mean by that is: I ask myself “Why am I doing this”? It has to be a very precise and profound reason otherwise I won’t participate on the climb. There is too much risk involved. In this case, I have a few why’s. 1) Pasang Kaji Sherpa. It’s very important for me to enable him and empower him to shine as a leader for young Sherpas. They need positive role models. Too often they are left in the shadows. 2) Students like you! You’re the next generation of leaders and life explorers and I am here, working as hard as I am, to inspire you to dream big dreams and to work hard to achieve them.