For some reason, James has kindly asked me to ramble on his Community Campfire (check it out, it's a cool idea). As anyone who follows me on social media will know, I do love a ramble and laughing at my own crappy jokes (condolences), so here I am, happily obliging ….quelle surprise!
So hi, my name is Hollie Ivy and I am addicted to mountains. We’re all addicted to something right?
From my base here in the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness, I run a tour company (alongside my equally adventurous Wolfdog Chinook and tiny human Juno) offering guided treks into remote parts of this beautiful country.
Born (at home, because my dad didn’t believe mom was in labour) and raised in Alaska, I suppose it was inevitable that rugged wilderness and high altitudes would forever be a big part of my life, but I’ve been asked this really simple, yet difficult to answer, question:
What inspired you to get outside and explore?
Hmmmm ….everything and nothing, I guess. I spent most of my life in the mountains, I don’t really function at peak level indoors (yes pun intended / no I am not sorry). I remember in March 2020, when we were all ordered to ‘STAY AT HOME’ and all I could think was, ‘Outside is my home. It always has been.’
I spent the majority of my childhood travelling in a van with my parents, brother and sister. Around Alaska initially, then driving through Canada and across The States to Florida and back. And I don’t mean campervan, just a standard van with seats and a steering wheel. No toilet, no bed, no showers, no cooker. But my dad did have a suitcase full of Led Zeppelin, Boston and Beatles cassettes, so the essentials were covered.
When you’ve got five people in close quarters like that, you tend to spend a lot of time outside. So maybe it’s not even really inspiration that took me into the wild, but rather self-preservation?
A more poignant question is why do I keep gravitating towards nature when it’s no longer ‘essential’ to do so? It’s really hard to explain to someone who’s never climbed a mountain why we do it. It seems awful. Just walking uphill for hours, only to turn around and walk back down again. What’s the point?
I can’t answer that. I don’t know what the point of anything is.
What I do know, is that when I am climbing a mountain, I am comforted by the ancient landscape highlighting how insignificant and fleeting both me, and all of my perceived problems, are in comparison. I find stillness in the movement – focusing only on putting one foot in front of the other. Every so often I look back and see how far I’ve come. I am constantly reminded how fragile, yet incredibly strong I am, either by the terrain, the weather, or both. I love how many wonderful metaphors mountains make for all the challenges and opportunities we encounter in life. For instance, currently I feel like I’ve just arrived at a false summit and am looking up towards the true summit enshrouded in low cloud cover, so I cannot see how much further I need to go (thanks Covid).
Mostly, I appreciate how climbing a mountain forces me to face my deepest fears and find creative ways of navigating them, proves that I can keep going long after I think I can’t and shows me how to see things from a new perspective.
We live in a world that glorifies being busy and overscheduled. In addition, we are all constantly connected to technology that demands our attention 24/7. The periods of solitude and stillness that we all crave has been slowly stripped away from us, YouTube video by YouTube video, social media post by social media post, text by text …and what’s left? A bunch of people terrified, not just of being physically alone, but alone with their own thoughts.
Yet, there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. I never feel alone when I am sitting on a summit all by myself. I often feel alone scrolling through my social media feeds.
So, I think I’ll stick to the mountains and suggest maybe you consider climbing one too, if you haven’t already?
After all, who doesn’t love ending the day on a high?