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Weekend Agenda: Reaching New Heights with Andrew Hughes

In today's Weekend Agenda, explorer, writer, and MiiR friend Andrew Hughes reflects on his many explorations, summits, and learnings about humility, connection, focus — all while keeping his coffee hot on a mountain trail. Read on to learn about his latest Everest experience and his effort to connect with the sherpa community there.

And if Andrew’s mountain summits inspire your own outdoor adventures, don’t forget to bring your Camp Cup. Available in 4 sizes and 8 MiiR colors, there’s a Camp Cup for whatever you’re drinking. The Press-fit Slide Lid prevents splashes, and the handle makes it easy to sip, grip, or clip. It’s the perfect companion whether you’re climbing a mountain or the corporate ladder. 

We invite you to grab a hot brew and enjoy this insightful reflection!


 

The bags were packed, ticket was purchased, and training complete. Everest awaited me.

Then it all stopped. For all of us. The world slowed and became seemingly smaller. Priorities changed –– and rightfully so –– as a pandemic became paramount to any peak. The only peak now that mattered was getting on the other side of the rising mountain of cases occurring.

As we hunkered down as if in a storm on the mountain, many of us felt alone and fought for connection. Life as we knew it was no longer ours to live as we once had.

Andrew Hughes Mountain

And yet in this time of separation sprung new hopes, light, and connection

 

Light was shed on ideas and views we had not taken time to ponder. They were given breathe and the ability to be seen.

The gift of opportunities and relationships which we perhaps had taken for granted now echoed profoundly in their absence along with the importance they played in our hearts and to our happiness.

We were given perspective of life stripped down and laid bare and out of our control.

And amidst this time I further realized a deeper truth of why I climb and seek summits both near and far.

For to climb is not about conquering, but about connection.

Connection to oneself through the meditational moments of separation and isolation which we rarely are gifted during our day to day routines.

Connection to nature and the natural world in which we take and consume from continually, yet so infrequently face the impacts of our consumptive choices on the sustainability and well-being of our world.

Connection to those we meet and share the path to these peaks, especially those whose countries and communities we often venture into and through. Too often a focus on the mountain resting upon the horizon hides the gratitude of each step and which we should express to each person…for like on the mountain, we are but guests here in these special spaces and places.

So in a year absent mountains to climb, I sought the communion with all these connections severed by this period of separation. And even more so, I committed myself to a deepening of my gratitude and to become more consciously connected to the many elements that compose a climb beyond the climb itself.

Preparations and training for Everest expanded to include the development of projects that would become a part of my Everest expedition and amplify a summit that was personally meaningful into a summit that would make positive impacts that truly matter.

Growing these projects involved fostering new connections to build a network of partners whose ethos echoed a desire to impact the world positively.

Fundraising for Human Rights Watch’s work on climate change allowed me to bring support to the communities on the front line of global warming who are also often those very communities tied to the environments and mountains we are there to explore and ascend.

Founding an online learning opportunity known as “Everest for All” created a place for classrooms of children from Seattle to Sydney to engage with the expedition and inspire them to seek daily summits in their own lives and open a space for them to fuel their exploratory spirits.

And following a year where those in and around the Khumbu Valley had been hard hit economically by the absence of annual tourism of trekkers and climbers I was not unaware nor absent from the internal conflict in my return to climb during the era of COVID. Yet I knew in talking with friends in Nepal a return of some sense of normalcy in spite of COVID and its risks was crucial for so many connected to these mountains and valleys. 

My previous time in Nepal, we often gathered in the tea houses along the trek to Everest Base Camp and spent endless hours sharing tea and time together. Returning I wanted the cups we filled and tea we shared to foster a further connection to all those who returned to the mountain and all those who rely on the mountain.

I wanted this unique time to be a moment to celebrate with gratitude the gift that the Sherpas and high altitude workers of our expedition always give to us by making our dreams possible through all they do. For there is no ascent to the summit absent them.                    

And so the highest tea party on Earth took form

 

On the highest mountain on Earth – and while setting a new world record – we cherished opportunity to share in the levity and light of one another, to revel in the reverence of reconnection of our mountain community, and to express endless humility for the heights we would seek to realize in the weeks ahead.

This journey to the highest point on Earth affirmed again that no summit is ever reached alone. We share every mountain top with all those who have touched our lives and all that has touched our path.

And so the tears that fell and were whipped away by the summit winds on that day were those of joyous celebration for the surging current of connection to self, Earth, and one another which once again flooded my heart and soul as I kneeled in appreciation on the summit of Everest.

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