I don't know if I had ever climbed anything before my summer in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Growing up just outside of Philadelphia, outside activities like hiking just weren't relevant, and now I found myself living in a city 8,400 feet above sea level. Walking through the markets induced heavy breathing.
I saw the snow-capped mountain every morning on my walk to work. It was nice to look at and a nice change of pace for me. I never even thought climbing it was an option. Too my surprise, a few hiker friends of mine from all over the world popped the question while out at dinner. "Hey, tomorrow we're going to climb Cerro Tunari, you in?"
I wasn't really sure what this entailed. Do I need a pole? Can I wear running shoes? I quickly learned it requires altitude pills, lots of bread and jam, layered sweatshirts, and some humility. As we approached the top, breaks were necessary every 3-5 minutes to actually find oxygen.
Reaching the top was a revelation for me. I could see miles into the distance, looked down on the clouds, and was overcome with a feeling of calm.
A new passion was born. I now find myself climbing things wherever it is I'm traveling.