Sunset and Crampons

2008-03-30 21:24:20.000 – John Bauhs,  Summit Volunteer


Today’s comments offer a discussion relating crampons and sunsets. If you’re notfamiliar with crampons, they’re boot spikes that can take a sedate pair of snowboots and transform them into frightening-looking agents of destruction. Imagineangry shark’s teeth on the bottom of your feet. Now, you may be asking yourself,what could crampons and sunsets possibly have anything to do with each other?

Prior to my first visit to the Mt. Washington Observatory last October, I had neverimagined that I would own a pair of crampons. As you might imagine, crampons reallyaren’t needed during the summer and early fall on the summit. When I was invited tospend another week volunteering on the rockpile, this time during late March, theequipment list included crampons as required gear. I can report that I am now thehappy owner of a pair of crampons!

The partnering of gravity and a lack of adequate friction under your feet makewalking around the summit a risky venture. The icy and snowy conditions, and thefrequent high winds at the summit make these boot spikes a necessity for properlocomotion. They also provide a helpful bit of mental therapy for an anxious mind. For example, my first walk down the Trinity Loop trail, behind the Sherman AdamsBuilding, was an unusual experience. My eyes saw a treacherous icy incline in frontof me. The sharp, jutting rocks standing guard like bumpers in a huge mountainouspinball machine. All the sensory input into my mind said ‘NO!!!’ while I visualizedlosing my footing and bouncing hopelessly from rock to rock like a parka-clad humanpinball; yet I was able to continue on my path confidently as if walking onsandpaper. I felt comfortable and serene as I made my way down the trail.

To me, sunsets are also a bit of therapy. Sunsets mark the end of another day, atime for thoughtful reflection of the experiences and challenges encountered and theopportunities to come at the dawn of the next day. As your eyes and mind intentlylook ahead, the sun makes its steady path towards the horizon. The varied hues ofmagenta, red, purple, and blue become richer, bolder, and in greater focus, muchlike the lessons learned from a life well lived. Sunsets provide a time to think,to look ahead to tomorrow while appreciating and savoring yesterday and today. Sunsets help me to appreciate all that I have, and all that life is about to give.

Crampons and sunsets help keep my feet on the ground.


John Bauhs,  Summit Volunteer

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