Learning Perspective

 

365 Ubuntu Climbs PerspectiveOne of the gifts bestowed upon me this year comes in the form of perspective.

It’s easy to make snap judgements on what I see or hear; because let’s face it – most things I comment on (socially, politically, environmentally) are based on my own experiences and beliefs.

I’d like to share some mind shifts I’ve had through dedicating a year to climbing the same strenuous route up Table Mountain – Platteklip gorge (a route most people detest) every day.

I’m going to relate them back to the three organisations its supporting: Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund.

  1. Don’t you get bored doing the same route every day?

Stuck in a hospital room

When you understand peoples behaviour reveals who they are, then you realise this question gives me an insight into what the person asking me is going through.

The short answer is the mountain and climb are different every single day. However,your mindset determines exactly what the outcome will be. Instead of saying “You’re doing this for a year?” I say, “I’m only doing this for a year”.

First statement creates struggle; second one generates gratitude – and all with one word.

It goes deeper than this, which I discovered when I was constantly asked the question and realised I needed to think deeper about it. I realised boredom is a lack of appreciation for the gifts you have every day. Your health, your legs, your eye sight.

Just ask a Leukaemia patient who’s not just stared death in the face, but upon receiving a transplant must face up to three months of solitary in hospital to reduce risk of infection during a vulnerable time.

Three. Months.

No outdoors. Limited interaction with friends and family. Now let’s talk about boredom and whether they would trade that room for a chance to climb a mountain every day.

  1. ‘Bad’ weather as an excuse

drowned shacks

I use inverted commas there because I no longer believe there’s bad weather; just bad preparation.

I’ve climbed in all kinds of treacherous weather ranging from heat waves to bitter cold; insane winds reaching 100km/h to torrential rain. Sometimes these can be combined.

The reality is: my challenge lasts 2-5 hours (depending who’s with me and weather conditions) and then I get to go home to secure flat that’s warm and dry.

It’s over for the day.

For the thirty million South Africans living in informal houses, every storm brings with it the panic of what will happen to my home. Flooding is most often a cause from torrential rain and the first family member home from work will start ‘emptying’ the water from their shack and attempt to dry what little items they have.

Wind means there’s potential for other homes to become missiles and your homes relentlessly battered on the Cape Flats by the wind. Until it stops – there is no respite.

shackfires

We can throw in fires on the mountain. These may mean having to choose different routes, but in an informal settlement can devastate thousands of shacks. All because one person may have been reckless causing many to lose every single item they own. The mountains vegetation and life will recover and so too will most people – but the people have nowhere else to go.

Not knowing how to read; living in poverty and time before a donor is found – are all 24/7, 52 weeks a year challenges until help and empowerment are given.

  1. I Can’t leave Cape Town

 

Klapmuts primary school 365 Ubuntu Climbs talk
Children at Klapmuts primary at the handover where I had the privilege to speak about what I’m doing and why

It’s true that committing to climbing every day means I’m ‘stuck’ here. Most people we are helping can’t ever leave Cape Town; never mind just one year.

This was highlighted to me when visiting Klapmuts primary where the principal and teachers explained most children have never seen Stellenbosch (15km away) and if they do – exclaim how big the buildings are. At most they’re seven stories high.

I love that on their school hall walls they have four murals: The Sphinx; The Statue of Liberty; The Sydney Opera house – and Table Mountain.

By helping teach these children to read they have a chance at an education and a chance at going there one day. And that – is priceless.

  1. Pain and Fatigue

I’m adding this one even though it’s not part of who we support because it’s such a valuable lesson.

My legs and body having no day off was always the great unknown. Becoming fixated on the pain and weariness of my legs on each climb is easy, and then I was taught a lesson by a special man.

Lifa broke his neck playing rugby and decided the doctors were wrong when they said “you’ll never walk again” – he’s slowly but surely taught himself to sit upright; then stand; and now walk with crutches. This man is beyond special.

Having successfully navigated Lions Head up and down with friends he wanted to climb Table Mountain. The people at Petro Jackson Fund had met me and sharing my story suggested getting in touch. He did – and only because he’d made it up Lions head, did I entertain the idea.

On climb 145 we made it to the Waterfall and due to time constraints – had to deliver the bad news we were turning around. We’d never make the cable car in time and going further only risked more chance of complications to climb back down. Repeat – time was why we wouldn’t make it. Remember, he’s climbing with crutches – and with more time I believe he would’ve made it.

Lifa Rock climb 145 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Lifa’s rock is the one in line with his head – yes he got up there!

For two hours I watched the human spirit in action with determination and smiles to match. I named that rock he sat on after him and every time I go past it, I think of him and I’m reminded that whatever pain I have in my legs – it’s something he and others hope to be able to experience one day.

His achievement fans my flames and that pain and fatigue reminds me what a gift the ability I have is, to do this every day.

 

  1. Graffiti on the Mountain

Bonus lesson.

On climb 106, I started for a late afternoon climb, with enough time to see the sunset. Within fifty stairs, I saw the first of fourteen rocks spray painted. Not tiny things – entire boulders with the last reminder two thirds up.

It was disgusting and hideous to think that someone could do this. I was trying to contain my anger when something completely opposite occurred. I had two missed calls for the Safety Mountain Tracking people.

Andrew, we have a hiker in distress on Smuts track and you’re the closest – can you help us?

At this stage I was at my fittest and still feeling fresh, so I was able to climb the rest (a little more than halfway) in thirty minutes and then trail run along the eastern table to the highest point, Maclears beacon, and then down smuts track to where the five people were with two SANParks rangers.

Thankfully, because this would be crucial later.

The helicopter was unable to land on the incline and so rescue teams had to carry the woman down. I’d stupidly taken my torch out my bag thinking there was no need for it. How wrong I was.

The ranger asked if I could lead the four people back down Skeleton gorge but with fading light and no torches, I suggested radioing the cable station to ask to wait for us. They agreed and the safer option along the top was what we took. Before setting off, I saw one friend removing the woman’s jewellery and phone; it was only then I realised she’d passed away – a heart attack.

Fading light climb 106 365 Ubuntu Climbs
The cable station sits alone (middle) in the distance as I race to the distressed hikers
Life and death climb 106 365 Ubuntu Climbs
View south as I race along

Those spare minutes gained earlier enabled us to navigate the climb back up to the top table in twilight safely. Along the top, we passed two rescue teams thankfully with spare lights for the final stretch in darkness. Darkness wasn’t what made this the most difficult walk of my life though.

The four friends were in a complete state of shock and showed immense gratitude when we finally arrived back down safely.

At the bottom, I was no longer thinking about the graffiti.

Final understanding

I used to misconstrue having something that others; like legs that work, or opportunities, or money, as something to feel guilty about.

I’ve subsequently learned guilt is wasted energy. Instead I now do two things:

  1. Appreciate what I have even more
  2. Use my gifts/opportunities to empower those born into more challenging circumstances than my own.

The choice is ours.

See you on the mountain.

perspective quote 365 Ubuntu Climbs

Andrew Patterson has climbed every day in 2018 to raise money for three incredible organisations. To be part of the change you wish to see in the world head over to http://www.365climbs.com and add your voice to become part of the Ubuntu Family

Taking Stock of 2018

Table Mountain Panoramic 365 Ubuntu Climb summit

It’s December – and for many that means a downhill slide into holiday mode; a panic for many parents about what to do with children on holiday and navigating the busy malls for Christmas presents.

To me, it represents 11 months of successfully achieving what I set out to do in January: 336 successful climbs up Table Mountain out of 365 with no injuries or any illnesses worth speaking about and 29 days to go…

I cannot begin to express my gratitude enough for my healthy body and legs – even though it’s something I do before every climb.

November’s a wonderful birthday month for me as well many friends and family; all Valentines Day babies methinks.

I’d always known my birthday was 56 days away from the end of the year but never calculated that meant it was the 309th day of the year.

This year I turned 39. You can’t script things like this and has been the type of amazing synchronicity experienced all year to remind me how special this year was meant to be.

And not just on one or two days – but all of them.

Sunset climbing back down 365 Ubuntu Climbs Cape Town Table Mountain

Looking back – Before you look Forward

I invite people climbing with me to take a moment to look back down the mountain; to appreciate for a moment how far they’ve come and what they’ve already accomplished.

Goals are great. They give me a direction to work towards and purpose in some cases. I’ve learned that climbing mountains gives me opportunities to learn valuable life lessons, one of which is – that the end goal and view at the top is not the be all and end all. Its about learning to value beauty in each step as much as the view at the top.

It can be a hard slog no doubt – but no one ever said you had to do the whole thing in one go. We’re allowed to stop every now again and look around.

That’s what I feel like I’m doing now with climb 337 looming. Stopping and looking around at whats come before me.

People have experienced snippets of what I’ve been through but as with most things in life, until experienced for yourself you can never truly understand.

The closer I get to the end now the further away it feels; I haven’t had a day off all year.

A wall of cloud on the summit of a 365 Ubuntu Climb Table Mountain
These kinds of majestic gems await me on some of my summits

Daily Thinking for Final Stretch

I learned when I get closer to the top and/or the bottom, my tendency is to want to ‘just get there’. This is how accidents happen. When I try push my already fatigued body and mind, I lose focus and start thinking about the end instead of the next step – so I’ve taught myself to maintain the same steady pace no matter how close to the end and excited I become.

I need to do just that for the next 28 days.

With immense excitement looming it’s hard.  When your girlfriend (who lives in San Francisco) is flying in under 2 weeks time and your whole family will be coming down from Johannesburg around Christmas time to support me; the mind has plenty to distract you with.

Distracted is dangerous, just look at car accident statistics – an estimated 52% happen within 8km of the home.

I sat with my performance coach around what data we’re going to measure this last month that can be used to analyse my efforts when I’m done. Heart rates, sleeping, emotional state, physical state you name it. We can compare these stats when I’m fresh again next month and do speed tests on the same route.

This is the most dangerous time now, these next few weeks. Keep the mind strong.

These words from him are valuable – particularly that I’ve fallen twice in ten days in exactly the same spot on the way down. Luckily just caused a stiff ankle nothing sprained.

It happens that quickly.

Distractions are compounded by every person you meet asking “whats next?!” and “what are you going to do on January 1st?”

At least the second one is easy to answer: I’m doing my 366th climb in a row and my last solo climb. This is to take stock of what I’ve accomplished in 2018 and how many people we – you and I – have helped by donating time and money to those living in appalling conditions.

Fulfillment comes from walking your most authentic path; Significance is when you can align that to empowering others in the process.

Its interesting to me how people’s reactions have flowed since having this idea.

1st Phase: That’s crazy, why on earth would you want to do that for a whole year?

2nd Phase: (usually only hear this much later on) you’ll never finish

3rd Phase: Oh you’re going to miss this when you not climbing anymore

4th Phase: Whats next??

(sidenote – asking what’s next is expected from someone who’s asked all the relevant questions and understands the persons current feelings and state of mind)

Lessons from these Questions

Very few people are ever willing to sit with someone in their pain or discomfort and challenges. The reality is no one is on this planet to save anyone else. Not when it comes to how you think and what you choose and how you act.

  1. Stop projecting

Recognising that all my responses are based on my experiences and what I would do in that person’s situation.

  1. Ask questions

Listening to understand means asking questions to learn where someone is right now.

  1. Think about the present

Its always easier to say than do but getting a gauge of where someone is right now based on what has happened, is far better than trying to play crystal ball and predict what someone’s future will be. The future is made up of tons of ‘right now’ decisions.

  1. Not my job to convince

Whether my project, religion, Politics, diets, exercise regimes – you name it. It’s not my jobs to convince people whats right for them. It’s my job to hold people accountable to learn to think for themselves and use what they know in action of service to others. What good is it knowing something great and keeping it all to yourself? Significance…

  1. Empathy and understanding

Understanding what someone is going through from their perspective means I can learn why they do certain things or behave in a particular manner. Just because something seems illogical to me, doesn’t mean its very real for them.

Misty Cable car Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs
We don’t always see where we going – but taking action every day means we’ll get there eventually

Final thoughts

One of the greatest things I’m doing, is learning from other’s behaviour. Sometimes most of these things appear innocent and not detrimental to others. And maybe it isn’t. But is it not worth behaving in a way that helps someone in your life feel completely supported and safe to share their current state of mind?

We live in a world fraught with enough pain and negativity – its time for each individual to start evaluating if they feeding that; or if they shining a spotlight on where all the beauty in this world lies.

I know what I’m choosing

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 and raising money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (housing) One Heart (Education) and The Sunflower Fund (Leukaemia) by inviting people to sponsor R1 per climb. head over to http://www.365climbs.com to be part of the Ubuntu Family.

Andrew Patterson 365 Ubuntu Climbs Table Mountain

 

5 Essential Lessons for any Challenge

Orange Breasted sunbird2 climb 272 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Sunbird (male) quietly surveying the city below                      Photo Credit: Natalie du Preez

As I sit here I can’t believe nine months of the year have come and gone.

Thirty nine weeks have rocketed past and being in an extreme challenge like this, climbing Table Mountain every day, brings with it extreme learnings.

Observing  how many people focus, even 277 days into my challenge, on what could go wrong and ‘negative aspects’ – weather, injury, sickness, ‘stuck in Cape Town’, you name it, it’s been said.

It’s the perfect mirror of life.

Few think about all the positive aspects – seeing the mountain in every way imaginable; the phenomenal views from my office; the personal growth; the extraordinary people I get to meet; and the conversations that brings with it.

Ignoring the difficulties I face would be fool hardy. It’s important to understand all the aspects of a challenge including difficulties – just don’t focus on them.  This reality of potential dangers was given to me when Gert, challenging himself to climb Table Mountain every day in September, sprained his ankle badly with just five days left. It can happen that quickly.

My focus cannot waiver for one second.

What a Week

This year, last week was the second longest amount of time spent climbing the mountain – but because of the extreme weather differences; my toughest to date.

Thankfully, I only had two solo hikes and five amazing groups to pull me through. Not just any groups:

Top of Table Mountain Heritage DayMonday: two special men, Bulelani and Siyabonga, started a tour group called Corner2corner tours and arranged a group to climb up on our National Holiday – Heritage Day. Not just hike up though – clean the mountain too. They believe the mountain gives us so much that they wanted to give back to her. It was 30 degrees at 11am and after a bitterly cold month, a bit of a shock to the system. Everyone made it up and we walked off with three full bags of rubbish removed.

VML Foundation Day climb on day 270Thursday: VML, a creative agency worldwide with offices here in Cape Town, have a yearly day to volunteer with various organisations – I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of them. This day was windy, icy cold, wet and downright miserable for a tricky ascent and descent. This usually deters people, but fourteen amazing people came and challenged themselves for the benefit of others. They had wonderful smiles, never complained and helped each other get down safely. Real team spirit.

Family climb 271 365 Ubuntu ClimbsFriday: I’m blessed with an amazing family and Aunty Di and Uncle John have been terrific with their support. Having seen them (they live in Durban) in February they promised they’d be back in September and would join – this was the day. After loads of rain, they were treated to the spectacle that is Table Mountain with rivers in full flow and waterfalls galore; even paths become water features. Their spirit and tenacity to get up adds to my memories of people who’ve pushed their limits; and chatting about all their holiday ‘s overseas is how I get to travel this year: vicariously.

Climb 272 365 Ubuntu ClimbsSaturday: a fellow blogger for Future Females and friend, Natalie, joined with her husband. We had a hot day again; thankfully with a breeze. My legs were taking strain, and they were happy to stop often and get pictures (picture above is hers!) much to my weary legs delight. Hard to fathom the previous 4 days were all cold and wet, and tomorrow is going to be even hotter…

Tibetan Monks on top Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs

Sunday: Lisa, Amanda and Alice brave a 06:30 start – always impressed by people willing to do that on a Sunday. Its Amanda’s birthday too! We start early for two reasons – on hot days sunrise hikes equal avoiding the heat and we have the privilege to host four Tibetan Monks, an astrologer and a healer all the way from India at the top. It felt as if the monks were already at the top and hauling me up step by step as we ‘rushed’ to ensure we didn’t keep them waiting. Thankfully we made it up in time meeting them at the cable car. This experience would never have happened without this challenge happening and my good friend Nicci connecting us. Something I could never have predicted.

Although I’m not a practicing Buddhist – I resonate with their desire for peace and love to permeate this planet – the reason they’re here, creating colourful sand mandalas.

Experiencing another belief and cultures ritual and respect for nature and our mountain was beautiful. Seeing them in their robes and prayer flags flapping in the wind was soothing and even though I had no idea what they were saying in prayer – felt at peace.

Being the end of the month too I chose rock number nine: a physical representation of another month completed.

I was originally keeping these but before meeting the monks, had the idea to rather take them all back at the end of the year and create a memorial pile on the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail. Hearing him speak about releasing attachment reinforces the idea.

Geshe wished to hold it and shared some beautiful words with me about what I’m doing. Though our time was brief together, it was reminded of quality over quantity.

What Can You Take Away from This?

As I said extreme challenges bring extreme learning and realisations after this week some are becoming ingrained in me:

  1. Focus on today. Even the toughest week came to end and the same is true for great weeks. Simply focusing on today’s climb means I give it every opportunity to become one of the most memorable ones.
  2. Lose attachment. Weather, health, mementos, even people. Things can change so quickly and holding on to something keeps you rooted in the past. A perfect follow on to point #1 because this keeps you grounded in today and what you can
  3. Find the flow. This has been one of the unexpected challenges of the year. I had grand designs of what needed to happen and what I needed to organise; yet the best experiences have all come from allowing the climbs to happen with whomever is supposed to join. Set your intention of what river you want to use, and let it take you where it needs to. Stop trying to control everything. This becomes the difference in creating meaningful experiences as opposed to a bucket list tick box exercise.
  4. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone’s in a rush: to find a partner; to be successful, to be first, to get up the mountain. All this means is you miss the opportunities along the way to see the beauty in each step, in life. Why do people burn out? Feel disconnected? We’re rushing to this appointment while making the next. Slow down. If I’d come out the gates trying to do every climb as fast as possible my body would’ve shut down months ago. My legs may be fatigued – but my heart and soul are energised.
  5. Gratitude is not important; its essential. Every climb starts with gratitude for my health, my legs that work and are strong enough to do this every day; my eyes to see the beauty around me and my mind that is actively learning every day from this experience. Gratitude for the mountain being so close to where I live and providing me a spiritual path to walk every day and always teaching me. It takes less than five minutes to show gratitude and once you start? You realise all the ways you’re blessed. Family, partners, friends, their support, and it helps spot the greatest beauty in the tiniest moment. Beauty is not one big thing – it’s an endless string of moments.

 

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town every day in 2018 helping raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (housing) One Heart (teaching children to read) and The Sunflower Fund (increasing the donor database for blood diseases like Leukaemia) To donate visit http://www.365climbs.com

Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday: How He Influenced Me

Neslon Mandela

Today would’ve been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, it coincides with my 199th hike up Table Mountain joined by Elliot (from Langa) and Raquel (Switzerland) – this makes it 100 days that I’ve been joined by people this year. My gran was Swiss and if she were alive – would’ve also been 100 today.

Life’s synchronicity is beautiful.

His first seed planted with me

I was thirteen years old when Nelson Mandela visited our school and spoke to us. The youngest boys always stood in front which that day, was our blessing.

Neslon Mandela at KES 1993 Renaissance Guy
1993 – the beginning of a sweeping change for South Africa

I was too young to fully take in the message he gave us, but thankfully able to go back into our school’s magazines archives the sentence ‘his message to the young boys was that the privilege they enjoy carries responsibility.’ Reminds me 25 years on.

Being a white male in South Africa means there’s a dark past attached to you. My journey to come to terms with that and what it means hasn’t been an easy one. As recently as five years ago, I thought ‘I didn’t personally benefit from Apartheid.’ And thought I was kind of ‘in the clear’ if you will.

This was an uneducated thought rooted in ignorance.

It took a woman by the name of Dr Jackie Naude (author of Finding the Rainbow) to come to Distell and provide a transformation workshop to begin to change this. She provided and open forum discussing a painful past from an objective point of view in a safe environment. The first time I had a detailed explanation of our past in this manner.

Understanding what the British did to the Boers (Afrikaners) by putting women and children in concentration camps (yes that’s right, the British invented this); The Afrikaners rule and desire to never be subjugated again, creating apartheid through to the release of Nelson Mandela and how he, somehow, managed to stave off a full blown civil war – a horror I can’t even begin to comprehend.

I wasn’t just understanding how we got to the present day, I started to understand how I benefitted from a system purely because of the colour of my skin.

I started to understand I was privileged.

My Journey with Privilege

I understood that one of the biggest problems with BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) was the communication around it and that it wasn’t a call to immediately thrust previously disadvantaged people in to high positions; but rather an opportunity for business to understand the previous injustices and to work together with government to rectify this over a period of time.

This is a contentious issue but effectively, business buried its head in the sand not truly understanding the requirements.

White privilege is a phrase that makes most people feel guilt or shame. I know I felt very uncomfortable so avoided public talks about it and if it came up, tried to defend myself that I personally hadn’t done anything wrong.

This is not something to defend.

It led to a profound understanding I live with today and where one of 365 Ubuntu Climbs pillars was born:

Just because I’m not personally responsible for someone else’s suffering; doesn’t mean I can’t be part of the solution to help them.

Mandela’s Deaths Impact

I was driving on the highway past the airport, a profound sadness came over me as I heard it on the news. A quick gaze right and my eyes were met with a sight I’d seen every day twice a day for two years: shacks.

We’re not doing enough…I thought.

I started thinking about the 5 000 staff at Distell and I imagined every staff member donating R10 a month – that’s R50 000… then I realised our Southern Africa offices pay R50 per person for parking; not exactly an amount that hurts your pocket. Using that amount it quickly rises to R225 000! In one year: that’s R2.7 million.

And we think we can’t do more to help others?

On the rest of my drive took questions like who builds homes? How do I find them? And who do I speak to? All rolled around in my head.

Simply sharing this idea with colleagues over coffee’s where I got my first break – ‘you should contact Habitat for Humanity’. And so, my relationship with them was born. Distell human resources department didn’t bite, but the Corporate Social Responsibility department, with whom I’d built up a relationship thanks to my work with the Sunflower Fund – did.

They got involved and built two houses which, both times, I was away on business unfortunately.

Opportunities to Think Differently

The Jacob Zuma protests in 2016 made me question how the protests were being conducted, because I saw them creating more of a divide in our country. I asked (didn’t assume) why weren’t black people joining in? A quick response around a tragedy here called Marikana, a mine where 14 miners were shot (unarmed and running away) in the back, again opened my thinking.

There were no protests organised then.

It hit home the hypocrisy around what marches were organised and that the marches against JZ were only because whites were affected by his actions.

I was seeing how its not always what we say, but sometimes what we don’t say that can be as damaging. This made me realise another painful truth on my part.

I’d never spoken to any black person (friends or colleagues) about what life was like under apartheid.

To understand today you must understand your past. “YOUR” as in country not personal. That means talking to people with alternate views and experiences to your own.

Those were some of the most heart breaking and difficult conversations I’ve ever had in my life. I appreciated all of them taking the time to go back and open wounds to share the madness and atrocities they experienced. Its why I wrote ‘South Africans – It’s time to Wake Up’

It wasn’t about trying to make things better for them; it was about opening my eyes to understand why certain protests happen now.

You might not condone an action like burning tyres on highways, but you can understand where its coming from. Instead of replying in ignorance, I now have a conversation with compassion.

None of us are in control of the privileges we are born into.

Was everything easy for my parents? Definitely not. But this is where my false sense of entitlement came from – I compared struggles without fully understanding the varying degrees of struggle.

Struggles of life are vastly different to the struggle against oppression.

Privileges come in many forms and I’ll never forget driving with my mom as a youngster and a man was in a wheelchair working tirelessly up a long hill. He was grimacing, and my mother pointed out how grateful we should be. That, as well as his determination, have stuck with me to this day.

It’s another form of privilege I have and why before every walk I take a moment to be grateful for what I have – my legs that work and are strong enough to hike Table Mountain every day.

Privilege is a word that makes people feel uncomfortable. It’s a word that today implies guilt and shame.

I used to say: ‘can’t we all just stop living in the past and move forwards together’ and now I try put myself in the shoes of those that have been oppressed. How would I feel 24 years on and nothing changed?

Its easy to want to ‘just move on’ when you’re on the right side of privilege.

Instead of feeling guilty or uncomfortable that I have privilege – I now think about how I can use it to empower others.

I can’t change the past; but I can change how I think today to make a better future for all.

It’s not about taking responsibility for Apartheid. Its about taking responsibility for the privileges it afforded me.

It’s amazing what can happen when you decide to stop carrying around negative baggage and decide to recycle it into something useful instead.

His Legacy’s gift to Us All

Together with all the freedom fighters, they gave us a South Africa to be proud of. We almost had a civil war – and came through peacefully. That should be celebrated every day.

We have the most amazing constitution in the world. Be proud of that.

The people of this country have endured some of the biggest atrocities in the world – and their spirit was never broken and are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met on three continents. Just look at how we blew the world away in 2010. The smiles in this country are unparalleled.

You don’t believe we can make a difference? Go to www.365climbs.com and make a R50 donation and challenge everyone you know to do the same – and I promise – I will show you how wrong you are. Your contribution is invaluable.

If this project changes 8 000 peoples lives and each of those go forward and changes another 10 people, and then those people another 10 and another 10 then in 5 generations we have the power to empower 800 million people. That’s fourteen times our current population. You think you can’t impact 10 lives? Join us and be a part of that.

I want a phenomenal country for all that live here. Not just a few.

Imagine if you were living in poverty and got a helping hand out of it.

Final Thought

Asking questions is one of the most powerful forces for long lasting change. I speak from experience.

Instead of making social commentary about what happens in this country – I invite you to ask better questions and then: seek out those who can answer from their experience and not from their opinion.

I hope to see you on the mountain soon.

Nelson Mandela Renaissance Guy Passion

A Week to Remember

365 Ubuntu Climbs Halfway view
After several days in rain and poor visibility – this greeted me on my halfway hike

Week 27 sees me starting on a memorable day – exactly halfway.

182 days behind me.365 Ubuntu Climbs halfway mark

182 days ahead of me. 365 Ubuntu CLimbs halfway mark up

Half way rock’s where my moment takes place (albeit that I must hike back down due to strong icy winds.) It snowed up top this morning but due to constant waves of rain predicted I chose the drier afternoon. After three days in the wet, I can safely say I loved being dry and having a view up top as well. Hard to believe I’ve climbed the equivalent vertical kilometers of 37 Mt Everest’s and raised R226 000. I’m very proud of what has been achieved with the help of all of you.

Interesting thought is that in life, we have no idea of when halfway will be. At any moment we could have less days ahead of us than we’ve got behind us.

I celebrate with two of my favourite ladies – Lisa and Jessie – at Mykonos in Sea Point. My brain still doesn’t compute that I’ve done 183 days (at that point) which is the equivalent of thirty-seven Mt Everest’s. How appropriate too then, that they’ve both done the most number of hikes; Lisa 19 Jessie 13 (at the end of her week here from San Francisco)

There isn’t enough paper in the world to talk about how special these two are and how they define support. Perhaps a chapter dedicated to each in my book is needed.

Wednesday Bonus

Joined by Carrey and her son, the four of us including Jessie on her second consecutive day, end up chatting to a tourist wondering if he’s on the right track.  William is from Holland and three days into his month-long visit.

We welcome him to join us instead of hiking alone. I’m rewarded with his tales of why he chose South Africa and that he spent a month in Nepal the previous year. I might not be able to travel this year, but with all the tourists that have joined me thus far? I feel I’ve been to many distant lands.

At 24 this man already is far wiser than his years.

Sharing his experience of acclimatizing to Nepal’s food, culture, altitude and being alone reminded me of my trip to Iceland and the value of traveling alone. His plan is to get tattoos from each place that speaks to what he learned while there.

His Nepal tattoo is incredible.  Just the story on the tiny village it was done in would be enough. Written in Nepalese, its one of their beliefs: Everyone you meet is superior to you in some way.

Gold nugget: In writing this I’m making notes to do my best to listen (not hear) more to understand what people share instead of just trying to respond with what I already know.

We head to Mojo market for a drink to chat more. San Francisco, Cape Town and Leiden only needing one beautiful thing to connect: our travels.

William enjoying the view on 365 Ubuntu Climbs Hike 185

Non-Profits versus For Profit companies

Jessie, who’s also involved in empowering others around the world by building schools with an organisation called Pencils of Promise, and I head to my dear friends 40th. I pick empty seats next to gents that own a gift store in Cape Quarter called Baraka. Incredibly, this happens to be the store where Jessie bought me gifts last year before she left.

Conversation was great all night and later that evening, one’s whole demeanour changes at the mention of my project and raising money, due to one question: ‘how do I know where the money’s going?’

Excellent question!

Simple answer: always ask – reputable non-profits won’t have any issue sharing all their info.

It’s something I’m trying to instill with people this year; to do their homework. Habitat for Humanity, The Sunflower Fund and One heart are all registered Non-Profits as well as certified with SARS (South African Revenue Service) to provide donors with Section 18A’s – a document that allows you to claim your donation back from the tax you owe.

What’s more interesting though, is where the discussion went after we answered his question. He wasn’t satisfied that not 100% of funds raised always goes to said causes. This baffles me. If 80% of funds raised goes to the cause and 20% to administration costs which allows the organisation to help people, isn’t that great? (Disclaimer here – check with each individual organisation what their percentages are – some guarantee 100% of donations go to their cause)

Why is it we so quick to judge where and what the money’s being used for with non-profits; and yet have no problem with business practices of For Profit companies?

There’ve been some serious abuses of money management in Non-profits, but there’s been just as many cases of fraud and unethical business practices in for profits.

Whether you donate money or buy from a company – is it not fair to say we know both have running costs?

Jessie put it beautifully when she said, ‘we vote with every dollar we spend’.

My wish is we’d hold more companies accountable for their business practices. We forget we have the power. If a company still tests on animals – everyone choosing not to buy their products because of that means they’re out of business.

When faced with deciding whom to donate to, here are some tools to help you separate the cheaters from the world beaters:

  1. Ask for Financials. Reputable companies will have these available for you.
  2. They are vague. Perhaps their websites don’t give too much information about what they do, how they do it, when they started, who the Directors are etc – but that could mean they inexperienced and simply use it as a funnel supplying emails and contact details instead. However, if making contact via these channels is difficult and vague, trust your gut as it will certainly alert you.
  3. Any organisation should be able to supply you with references for what they do. If a charity builds homes; ask for details of where and who received it. Again, if people get uppity with you on the phone to supply this and your gut sounds alarm bells – You have the right to say no. It shouldn’t be difficult to get info like this.

 

I said it twice already but its worth telling you again. Trust your gut.

The reality is we live in a society where scams are something to watch for, but just because one woman cheats on you doesn’t mean the rest will.  If you hear about a non-profit being ‘dodgy’ don’t paint all of them that way.

Be vigilant.

Ask questions.

Vote for a better world with how you spend your money.

See you on the mountain.

If you’d like to invest in 365 Ubuntu’s Project, please click on http://www.365climbs.com and you’ll be kept up to date with who we empower. Stay tuned for our delivery of books to help teach children to read coming up this month at two schools.

Renaissance Guy Andrew Patterson

It’s not All Proteas (Roses)

Andrew Patterson drenched but not defeated

Week 26

My week starts off with an incredible sunset hike where I do my second fastest summit. Thankfully, because I run into hikers expecting the cable car to work (its closed) and having come from Skeleton Gorge (Kirsetnbosch Gardens which is a 3 hour hike) I safely bring them down Platteklip. We barely make it down before dark sets in but thankfully no injuries. Incredible to think my snap decision to do a sweep round the extremity up top meant I ran into them.

Sunset on platteklip gorge day 176 365 ubuntu Climbs
Always a treat to see sunsets from the mountain

No rest for the wicked, I’m up at 06:00 to start hiking in the dark to FINALLY test a theory of mine that the sun rises between the cliffs of Platteklip Gorge. About 20% left of the way I worry I started too late and I won’t be up top in time. I try push harder but its like those dreams where you need to run fast and just can’t. Thankfully, I made it with time to spare (albeit 5 days after the solstice) but my gut is right and I’m rewarded with the most spectacular start to a day one could hope for. Hike 177.

Cape Town from platteklip gorge 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Cape Town from the contour path

 

SUnrise between the cliffs at the top of Platteklip Gorge day 177 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Sun rises beautifully between the cliffs
Sunrise at the Top of Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Breath taking beauty

Calm before the storm

We all hear the saying. We’ve probably all said it; but this week I get to truly understand that. I also realise that the northern hemisphere’s saying of ‘Red morning Shepard warning red night Shepard’s delight’ is in reverse here in Cape Town. We have the most EPIC sunset Thursday before 4 days of inclement weather descend on us. So, what should our rhyme be?

Red morning Shepard’s yawning, red night shepherds fright?

Anyway, week 26 sees me have 3 days of exquisite opportunities for photos culminating with the most perfect lighting for your eyes Thursday before the storm. And oh yes…. The storm.

Sense of Humour Failure

Warnings of four days of foul weather mean I’m even more alert than usual, like a cat whose tail’s been stood on eight times already.

Friday looks like the mildest of the forecasts, but I still go when the least amount of wind and rain is predicted.

Not only did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but I think there was no bed, no side, and no waking. My drive up is fine until I reach the Roundhouse and it starts raining. Then? I reach Kloofnek and its misty. From there you only drive up and up.

Great. Probably no Cable car (its boarded up as I drive past) AND I’m getting wet.

I’m not happy.

Storm hits 365 Ubuntu Climbs

I’ve always said its fine to get rained on. Just not to start in the rain.

I sit in my car before hoping I can climb at least halfway without jackets (I always have two – one standard for warmth and another for rain to stay dry). If it rains – I have to wear both. No use carrying a wet jacket in my bag.

Its not raining. Its like someone’s sneezing constantly. Constant fine mist that’s not enough to be cold or wet instantly, but after ten minutes enough to soak you.

I must wear my jackets. Which – is INSANELY hot doing so. I’m a sweater. I sweat profusely. After 7 minutes I’m almost at the contour path and I’m not sure if sweat or water is pouring off my forehead.

I’ll be fine if I take off the jackets – so I think.

I walk up one flight of stairs from under the tree canopy and BOOM! The mist/annoyingly fine rain returns.

To make matters worse my rain pants I’m wearing keep sliding down so literally every 5 stairs I have to pull them back up. Interestingly, this – doesn’t happen the next day. Being in an ‘off’ mood and have all this happen starts shredding my sense of humour like FBI agents at Watergate. Or Jacob Zuma lawyers at Nkandla.

I’m not happy.

Today will be only the second hike in 182 that I see not a single other person on the mountain.

That means my first of 3 outlandish cries in frustration go unbeknown to anyone but myself, the mountain, and now you.

Small Miracles

All I can think about is how more annoyed I’m going to be, hiking back down pulling my pants up every two seconds. After placing rock 180 and knowing I only have 13% of the way and roughly seven minutes at a good pace left – I start ‘praying’ for a small miracle that the cable car is working

(At this juncture I should share the wind forecast showed it should be closed all day.)

I. Have. Never. Been. Happier. To. See…. A stock take being done.

EVER!!!

In probably my foulest mood ever I went from the Grinch to Santa in 0.56 seconds.

Gratitude

The cable way was closed but the staff were doing stock take at the shop in the station. With the eyes of a puppy wishing to be adopted I asked if they’d take me down.

“Ask the drivers”

Thankfully, one of my favourite drivers – Bululani – is operating the car opens the doors for me. The sweetest sound to my ear maybe in my life. He has one of the best smiles and radios below to bring us down.

Honestly, a split second changed the tone of what my daily video was going to be versus what it was.

Bululani was my daily miracle. I told him that too. And thanked him.

Andrew Patterson and Bululani
Cable Car ‘Uber’ driver for the day

I saw him again Saturday and we ‘laughed’ but man alive after the weather reports and expecting four hikes down in a row? Two rides down in two days was GOLD!!!!

My brain may not comprehend 180 climbs in a row but damn skippy my legs sure do.

 

Show Respect

Storm water 365 Ubuntu Climbs
I’ve never seen water flowing over the boulder to the right. Ever.

I’m reminded of how many people care as they send wishes on days like today – Sunday, where insane water flowed off the mountain.

Truthfully – a lesson I realised early on in this challenge, is no matter what the weather, the mountain must be respected.

And its on these days where the weather is so adverse and changes so quickly, that I look forward to; because it reminds me how important respect is. Not fear. Respect.

Always remember where you are and never get too big for your boots.

The water on the mountain on day 182 is majestic and made that much more interesting because of gale winds on the middle 1/3 only. Lower down and up top: nothing but WHOA on that middle band, waterfalls flowed back up the mountain.

I earned my stripes this weekend.

And once again I’ve seen the duality of perfect days (in our eyes) compared with not so perfect days (all lies).

There is no such thing as bad weather – just bad preparation.

See you on the mountain

Red Repen Protea Renaissance guy
Reward at the end of hike 182 and week 26

 

Hiking and Life’s Connection

Highs and Lows of Life and hiking
Even reaching the top of a hike doesn’t guarantee a view

Week 25 – The parallels of life and hiking

First up – special thanks to Wings Herbal Synergy for sponsoring me with supplements to keep my legs and body in the best health possible. Amazing because they didn’t want a big announcement about it, they are doing it simply because they believe in what I’m doing and want to help. Huge respect to them for that.

Whether hiking or living; you’ll experience highs and lows. The only difference between the two: hiking generally starts at the bottom for you to climb up.

Some days though, you can start extremely high. Recently though, my day started as close to the bottom as you can get with the news of my dear friend Joshua’s death.

Week begins with high and low

Monday the 18th is my grans 94th birthday and Joshua’s funeral in Melbourne. It’s one of those crazy days where you feel two opposite emotions simultaneously.

My gran and family still live in Johannesburg and this is now the longest I’ve gone without seeing her. She’s unable to travel so I’ll only see her again when I’m finished with climbing Table Mountain 365 times this year. I miss her.

Speaking to her before my hike, I can hear the sparkle in her voice as she sat comfortably in her new chair that had arrived earlier. A comfy lazy boy with massage function. Its great to hear her voice and it always leaves me incredibly grateful that at age 38, I have the privilege to speak to her still. Especially on a hard day like this.

Memorial hike

I promised Joshua’s mom and brother I’d hike at the same time his funeral and wake took place so in some small way, I could be ‘present’ from across the oceans. Fittingly, the weather is glum and overcast, almost as if the weather was mourning with us. I took a candle with me to light and sit with his rock. I picked up one on the day of his death to honour him. High winds meant the cable car wasn’t working and I hiked back down.

I chose to sit quietly on Ubuntu rock with the candle fluttering next to ‘Josh’. Amazingly – Ubuntu rock had not a breath of wind for the candle to burn uninterrupted. There we sat. As if inside a cloud, on one of the most recognised mountains in the world. Honouring a beautiful soul that now lives inside all of us that knew him.

He had endured such tragedy this year and I will forever be grateful for his incredible support for my project. I take solace knowing that he found some peace.

With the last quarter of the hike left, the biggest rain drops I can remember since running around in our garden as a child, descended on me. I tried to capture it in a photo to no avail. Felt like the last perfect send off to Josh. Lifting my face up, I felt rain against my face for the first time. Usually the peak of my cap and hood of my jacket serve to shield my face. It was the type of experience I would have jumped on to Whatsapp to tell him about because I knew he’d appreciate that.

Fittingly, the 365 Ubuntu Climbs shirt he wore with such pride went with him.

We all miss you my friend.

My friend Joshua crook supporting 365 Ubuntu Climbs

A break in the weather

In 34 days I’ve only had a view from the top 13 times. In the past 11 days, once. One of the greatest lessons to date is understanding that there’s no bad weather; just bad preparation. Thanks to Cape Union Mart and their brand K-Way – I’m prepared, and I’m kept warm and dry which translates into safe.

The rain pants in particular, are amazing. The day Josh passed I made the mistake of not wearing them and a serious downpour happened in the first twenty minutes. Now they’re on even  if there’s a remote chance of rain.

Rain is glorious news and I get excited every time for it. We’re in the grips of one of the worst droughts Cape Towns had in a century. Our dams collectively, have just squeaked past the 40% full mark. This is why I said at the beginning of the year I hope to hike in rain for 200 days.

You’re probably thinking “Whaaaaaaaaat?!?! Hiking in the rain is dangerous surely??” I think the mountain is more dangerous on clear warm days than on windy rainy days; because people think it’s a playground and don’t pay enough attention and respect to the mountain. Many rocks are slippery even without being rained on. Being in nature requires presence, in every moment and step. I believe injuries come from two things: fatigue and lack of respect.

Even today as I start my 176th hike this year, I pretend it’s my very first one. Every step is closely monitored, and I even check to see what rocks have changed position, look loose and are cracking open/off.

It’s a gift being on the mountain around the time of these storms passing through. To see the mountainside alive and water flowing in the most unexpected places is phenomenal. Summer hikers would walk past without ever thinking twice about a waterfall. What a privilege to get to experience it in every way.

My latest understanding

I was given an opportunity to speak to the South African Property Investors Network (SAPIN) again on day 171 having spoke on day 73. This gave me a unique opportunity to gauge who’d heard me speak then and whether they thought I’d be back having not missed a day on my quest to complete 365.

I admire their honesty, pretty much all of them said no.

I always knew most people would think that way and the only way to build trust is to keep doing what I’m doing. People watch your actions more closely than your words – and rightly so.

I’ve come across many talkers proclaiming to support, and they disappear into the distance like a tumbleweed blown across the desert floor.

These talks give me a great opportunity to share the purpose of climbing a mountain daily: to show the power we have as individuals and collectively when we stand together.

Why donate money at all? Well – having been involved in various projects since my high school days with King Edwards and their KESFAM drives, I can tell you there’s nothing like seeing the gratitude in the eyes of those you empower.

Just because we’re not responsible for others suffering, doesn’t mean we can’t be part of the solution to help them.

I don’t believe in charity – that involves keeping people out of their own power. Working with Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund means we collectively empower those we help to take ownership of their lives.

Empowering those without the means to empower themselves now.

Speaking on Wednesday I realised that most people look at themselves as a Mt Everest of donating. In other words, it must be large sums of money to be meaningful. What they don’t realise is that even Mt Everest isn’t just one mountain: its made up of thousands of individual stairs from base to summit; each stair as important as the next.

Think of yourself as a stair to someone else’s Everest.

If every South African gave me R1 – we’d raise R56 million.

If 50 000 Capetonians donated R30 a month (not even 2 coffees) we’d raise R1.5 million a month

Ask the 2.5 million people in the UK that didn’t bother voting on the Brexit issue if they still feel their vote wasn’t important.

Our power lies in our collective efforts. Don’t ever say “I can only give….” Because your act of giving has the potential to change another human beings’ life.

Just ask each of 365 Ubuntu Climbs donors whether they thought they’d:

  • Add 20 people to the donor registry and potentially save 20 fathers, 20 mothers, 20 friends lives impacting all their families, friends and colleagues;
  • Help two of the largest primary schools in the country teach thousands of children to read and track the children’s progress
  • Help 10 families improve their living conditions to feel safer, warmer and drier.

And we not even half way yet.

Final thought for the week

My 300th climber to join me was Iona this past Saturday and her takeaway was Ubuntu rock and the accumulation of love that makes the walk into a prayer of love, hope and connection.

It was the first time I’ve asked for feedback like that and what an incredible answer to get first up.

Why? Because its what this is all about summed up perfectly. Life’s shorter than you imagine, don’t waste it living in fear. I promise you – I’ve never been more inspired by how much good there is in this world with all the people I’ve met thus far and through all the donations received.

I’m grateful to each and every one of you. Creating a better world requires active citizenry. As Gandi said – be the change you wish to see in the world.

Try it – I’ve never been more fulfilled in my life.

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is hiking Table Mountain every day in 2018 (175/365 completed thus far) to build homes; teach children to read and build a database for Leukaemia. To become part of the Ubuntu Family (ubuntu is the spirit of humanity and compassion towards one another) head over to http://www.365climbs.com share your contribution.

It Comes in Three’s

 

table-mountain-hiking-trails-1511856660-1000X561
Devils Peak (left) Table Mountain (center) Lions Head (right)

Even the most Iconic mountain in the world is part of a trio.

The culmination of April see’s us complete a third of the year.

As I write this, I’ve completed 122 consecutive days hiking up Table Mountain. This gives me a unique opportunity to explore the 3’s that have followed me through the experience to date.

3 MONTHS WITH 3 FULL DAYS HIKING

When I was training last year, my thoughts wandered to “but what happens when people who join aren’t as fit and take an extra 1-2 hours longer?”

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I had plans to have cut off points and politely excuse myself as I continued without them.

Thankfully, sense prevailed.

I quickly realised on the mountain the value of the conversations and an old army saying (even though I never went) rang true: leave no one behind.

The important thing to realise here, is when I was on my own that’s exactly what it was about: me.

When 365 Ubuntu Climbs started, the focus was no longer on me; it was about the people we can empower. Building homes; building a database for Leukemia; building childrens minds by teaching them to read.

The irony is that even with the slower hikes, the longer months (January March and April) have still only yielded a full 3 days of hiking (and some change).

This means everyone who joins has invested in our idea with both time and money.

That deserves every ounce of respect. These are perfect examples.

Craig, having traveled with work almost two weeks away from home, was delayed for three hours on his flight back the night before our planned hike from Durban (2 hour flight): and still joined at 06:30 on a Sunday morning. No excuses.

Jessie, flew half way around the world from San Francisco to support me and hike up seven times in eight days; including the very next day after landing. No excuses.

Lisa, has hiked up with me 13 times; early mornings, cold, and on the second windiest day of the year to date. No excuses.

My sister Caroline, has adrenal fatigue and an under active thyroid. Truth be told, probably should never have climbed with me. Her commitment, willpower and sheer determination to support me pushed her up that mountain. She made it up on day 62. No excuses.

Each of my family members that hike up with me get to choose a rock to represent them. This I keep on Ubuntu rock (13% of the way left to go) and with about 50 stairs left till Ubuntu rock and utterly exhausted – she chose what is now lovingly referred to as ‘MF Rock’. Yup – that’s exactly what MF stands for.

It’s this type of commitment you can’t foresee when you have ideas and why it’s so important to follow your gut when an idea sits well. It’s why doing what you love can only bring you rewards you never dream of. Seeing others put themselves outside their own comfort levels in aid of others? Priceless.

3 TIMES WATCHING THE FULL MOON RISE ON TABLE MOUNTAIN

A blue moon is when we have two full moons in a calendar month.

I watched on the 31st January (second full moon in Jan and first Blue moon month of 2018); the 31st March (second blue moon month in one year – hasn’t happened since 1999 and won’t happen again until 2037) and on the last day of April: the end of my first third of hiking up Table Mountain 365 times (which is why this is even more appropriate)

I’ve wanted to watch the full moon rise at the top of Table Mountain since day one, but my first time relentless wind meant the cable car wasn’t working and I had to hike back down, so watched on my own half way down Platteklip Gorge to avoid hiking in the dark –  where I found my January rock.

       January’s second full moon     April Rock, March, February and January Rock               

March fell over Easter Weekend and I was joined by two special people, Jaclyn and Avril. What I love most about being accompanied up is the fascinating conversations shared about each others experiences in life.

Up top was insanely busy. Intent on not waiting in a mammoth queue, Jaclyn and I hiked back down to my previous spot where, in the ever increasing icy wind, we sat mesmerized by the full moon rising into the dark sky. Our journey to Winter responsible for the darker moon rise.

march-second-full-moon.jpg
The moon peaking its head behind the corner of Table Mountain as we sat huddled about 2/3 up

The 3rd one, Monday the 30th April, was finally at the top. With perfect weather conditions to catch the cable car down, Imogen and I (having lost 3 of our companions) settled up top to enjoy this natural wonder. With the sun setting even earlier, unaware people left around sunset (18:05) and missed the spectacle of seeing the beautiful full moon rising like the sun, while darkness shrouded us above the twinkling city.

April full moon
I truly wish you get to experience this in your lifetime

3 RAINY DAYS IN ONE WEEK

I always knew this was coming.

Like mid year exams looming in the distant future.

I’m exceptionally happy about the rain. We desperately need it – our dams are collectively sitting at 20% full. I’d be happy to hike in 200 days of rain – its all about mindset and dressing correctly plays a massive role in this.

I’ve been blessed to have Cape Union Mart (a South African outdoor, hiking, camping – gear and equipment store) come on board as a sponsor. This means they’ll help me stay dry, warm and safe. It was serendipitous that our meeting happened the day before I hiked up in complete mist (which is as good as being in fine rain) and the week before it rained three times.

The rain means the mountain transforms into a winter wonderland of sound and sight as waterfalls appear in places summer hikers would never conceive of. I consider it a great honour to bear witness to these changes that happen hourly as water collects higher up and rushes towards the ocean, as if in its own ‘rush hour traffic’.

This was highlighted on my second rainy day hike when, after a thunderstorm hit us between 3 and 5am, I expected a bigger rush of water at the start of the hike. Strong winds up top meant the cable car wasn’t operational and so I hiked back down; frozen hands dreaming about the gloves I’ll get from Cape Union Mart for just such future days.

wintery pic
Yep – the exit is down… down Platteklip Gorge!

Thankfully, my parents sponsored me a proper K-Way rain jacket last year already. When it started raining on the way down I was even more grateful. Well, I say rain, but I didn’t see any water falling to earth. It was more like precipitation seated in Airline Cloud traveling up Platteklip gorge. It was blowing directly into my face. Already warm from ascending 760 vertical meters and on my way back down I felt life flowing through me as life happened all around me.

Every step was as careful as though stepping onto thin cut glass. My Barefoot hikes perfect training for this as I become completely mindful in every step, and lost to anything else happening.

I’m alone on the mountain and I feel absolute peace. Bliss. Gratitude.

Some tourists have started hiking up (with appropriate gear, which is a first) and have just made it to half way as the rain and wind picks up. They turn back wisely, and I see them up top the mountain on day three – ironically also a misty and cold day with rain.

Day three the cable car, however, is working and cold soaked hikers fill the wifi lounge huddled around coffee cups.

Mervi, all the way from Holland with her husband, had heard about me through a friend and pushed on through the rainy bit to experience Table Mountain in a way most people avoid. Her smile at the end echoed her understanding of what she had just achieved.

Once again, the weather had been incorrectly ‘predicted’ and rain slammed into our faces  at the top. Having hiked back down the previous day my heart sat heavy at the prospect of the cable car being closed. This wasn’t in the script for Mervi’s hike up and, conscious of time, hoped it worked for them to do more exploring in Cape Town. Thankfully, that wasn’t a problem and we were able to enjoy a fantastic lunch at The Roundhouse where they spoiled me.

Here’s to the next 122 days

For the first time in my life, I’m creating my own adversity instead of waiting for it to happen to me. Reading this and my previous blogs this year gives you a snippet into the support I receive to make this possible.

I’m not doing this alone.

This happens because of my family, close friends, new friends and even strangers messages on social media’s support. Together we understand that this is about a greater purpose: empowering those without the means to empower themselves (yet)  – this is how I’ve climbed over 366 000 stairs.

Never underestimate the power your positive words of encouragement has on the recipient.

Ever.

This post is dedicated to all the people that have donated and the 215 people that have hiked up with me to date. Together we are making Madiba proud.

Inspiring-Nelson-Mandela-quotes-A-winner-is-a-dreamer-who-never-gives-up

Andrew Patterson has embarked on an ambitious project in 2018 to climb Table Mountain 365 times. This is all in aid of raising money and awareness for three organizations:
  • The Sunflower Fund – building a database for Leukemia
  • Habitat for Humanity – building homes for those living in poverty
  • One Heart – helping under resourced schools teach children to read.
To pledge your support and invest in this project visit: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

 

 

How are Your NY Resolutions going?

cover

Milestones seem to be raining down on me this week – hopefully a great omen for a water strapped Western Cape this winter.

It’s incredible to think what’s transpired in two years since I started writing my blog; never mind the fact that I pledged to hike Table Mountain 365 times this year and as it stands: just this past week I hit triple digits for consecutive days (none missed) hiked up Table Mountain and successfully hosted my first ever fundraising event. To date:

  • 108 consecutive days hiked up Table Mountain
  • 53 days alone
  • 55 days taking 206 people up with me
  • R176 000 raised to build a home; teach a child to read and give someone with leukaemia a second chance at life
  • 682 km of hiking with 73km just vertical climbing (equivalent of 20.5 Mt Everest Summits)
  • 186 567 Calories burned, the equivalent of 2 248 glasses of wine

That second last stat is the one that doesn’t compute the most. Which leads me to my very first lesson I’ve learned these past few months.

    1. One day at a time, step by step

Goals can become overwhelming. Work or personal. What’s important is the daily action you take and thereby focus on. I’m not going to lie – 100 consecutive days hiking still seems daunting and outside the realm of reality; never mind the fact I still have 257 days left. However, now that I have 100 under my belt I have no doubt I’m going to achieve it because I have a formula that’s proven.

Breaking targets down into smaller bite size chunks is what will get you through.

  1. Be Open to the Unexpected

Rain, Lightening storms, gale force winds, fire, sore throats, people feeling sick (and being sick) on the mountain – there are no guarantees. I have a plan B and C in place for such days and thankfully, haven’t had to execute them.

Ask for the best

Plan for the worst

Be ready for anything

All these three mindsets require one important aspect: planning.

  1. Swap Expectation for Appreciation.

While training last year I thought anyone taking longer than two hours going up meant I’d have to walk up without them for my sanity.

My perceived value: was getting to the top.

Then I started my challenge and that all changed. I began to naturally fall into a rhythm of walking with whomsoever at the back. That’s when something extraordinary happened to me: incredible conversations flowed.

I understood people donating and choosing to hike up 730 vertical meters for a cause greater than ourselves is the real value of 365 Ubuntu Climbs. THAT’s what this is all about.

Individuals pushing their own boundaries and physical capabilities is the order of the day.

I appreciate every single person that’s joined me on this journey.

GPUU4656Dexter’s (far left) first time and it rained the whole way up – no complaints once!

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International guests from the UK Joining
  1. Time is not an Excuse

Many people have asked “what do you do???” or “how do you work” because of the perceived time spent hiking on Table Mountain. I even had a gent recognise me on the mountain and proclaim “I wish I was retired to join you”. Simply put, even WITH 40% of my monthly hikes being double the time I’d take if I was always on my own – I’m only hiking 10% of a month.

That’s 3 full days.

Let’s say you sleep on average 8 hours a day that equates to 10 days. That means hiking AND sleeping adds to 13 days combined. We’ll use February which only has 28 days to prove the point. IF you work 8 hours a day that’s 7 days. We’ve just hit 20 days and you still have 8 24-hour days to do what you want.

What I’m saying here is what you prioritise you will achieve.

There are no excuses.

If you have a family, that will be your priority and it will demand your time. Point is – you have time for your family because it’s a priority.

Be honest about the real reasons you not following your gut and passions.

Time is not it an excuse.

  1. Keep. It. Simple.

Spending time in nature means I observe it. The ability of flowers to grow out of cracks in cliff faces; vegetation staying green through a drought; flowers lasting three days (pink flower to right). If you want to grow – grow!

Life. Finds. A way. You can too.

Fire burns old vegetation so new seeds can prosper. There’s no good or bad it just is.

I’ve subsequently come to the decision on the mountain that, for me, there’s no such thing as bad.

What I thinks ‘bad’ today, in 6 months time becomes the best thing that ever happened to me.

The Sunflower Fund – an organisation designed to help other families not suffer the death of a loved one – was born from one sons death. It’s a tragedy beyond epic proportions for a mother; yet so many families since then have loved ones because she acted on her experience.

The ‘bad’ I see that is disturbing? Is good peoples apathy in life.

Unintended consequences

One thing you’ll never be able to predict, is the unintended consequences of you taking action. The incredible people you’ll meet – many wanting to help you. The inspiring conversations you’ll have. The lessons you’ll learn along the way, particularly about yourself and how you view life.

Life is a continuous flow whereby we’re constantly developing. No one got to the top of the mountain just standing there thinking about it. None of us have the answers first time, the ones that can share their successes are the ones that took that first step and kept going. No matter what.

The question is – how bad do you want it?

It can be scary as all hell but that’s just because its like standing in front of a dark room before you flip the switch.

I’m telling you from experience.

Flip the switch.

MOtivation

Do You get Bored?

bored

“How do you not get bored doing the same route every day?”

This question’s about the fact I’m climbing Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge every day in 2018.

My answer on the mountain at the time was simple: No two days are the same.

That was my instant response answer, but the question sat like a splinter in my mind on the rest of the hike; day 76 of 365 summits.

Why don’t I get bored and what is boredom? I thought I’d explore it further in this piece.

What is Boredom

There are two times we’re bored: we’ve ‘nothing’ to do and/or doing the same thing over and over.

Parents will most likely identify most with the first type. Children complaining they’re bored because they aren’t able to do what they want.

In reality, boredom’s great (and necessary) because it stimulates creativity. Being bored means you must think, go within and tap into parts of ourselves that switch off when the TV or our dumb phones are on.

Understanding Boredom

In speaking about this to a group from the UK, words flowed through me I hadn’t thought about previously.

Boredom comes from pursuing things that are not driven by purpose. (With regards to a consistent daily routine)

Climbing Table Mountain every single day for a year just for some personal record would be boring as all hell to me.

Climbing Table Mountain every day to raise money and awareness for those born into extremely challenging circumstances has purpose.

It’s your mindset.

Different day – different people

I also challenge those who donate, to climb with me on a specific day, which means to date I’ve met amazing people and had 124 people walk up with me.

Would you get bored hearing about a mans struggle with depression, how he overcame it, developed techniques to do so and now teaches children all over the world how to find their voice and speak with influence?

Would you get bored listening to parents that met in India, lived in New York, packed up a good life there and moved to Cape Town to have a better quality of life with their children?

Would you get bored listening to your best friend share her challenges she’s going through and feel immensely proud at how she thinks and deals with challenges?

Would you get bored spending a Saturday morning with your only sister and her family that traveled 1400km to support you even when her health is something that prevents her from exercising the way she wants?

Now consider the fact that the weather from day to day can be dramatically different. One day clear blue skies2018.01.13

the very next day no view from the top at all 2018.01.14

What is your mindset?

Last year I climbed Table Mountain 49 times as part of my training regime while doing other hikes in-between to enjoy different scenery based on my geographical limitations this year. Training was mental preparation as much as physical. I told myself before every climb how excited I was and created the idea that I was hiking the equivalent of the day of the year. In other words, it may have been the 50th training hike, but I told myself this is day 277 of the year, and as such this is what it feels like after that many successive hikes.

Cultivating mindset doesn’t happen by accident, so here are some tips I’ve learned.

How to overcome boredom

Thinking about this question deeply I’ve developed 5 tips to cultivate your mindset so that you’ll never be bored again.

Tip #1: When you decide to do something there’s only one option – doing it.

It’s important to plan, this includes understanding all mental challenges that await you. You can train your mind to overcome it before you start.

I developed a healthy respect for what this challenge entails and more importantly, how powerful an impact it would make for people in need by completing it.

That meant there’s only one option to me – completing 365 hikes up Table Mountain in 2018.

When you give yourself alternatives the mind has options on what to focus on. IF you want to stop smoking the only option is being a non-smoker. Once you make that decision all you must worry about is today and the next moment. Period.

When you decide to do something there’s only one option.

Tip #2: Belief.

It’s one day at a time; step by step. Every day is a building block for the future, focus on what you learn and understand today, this builds belief within.

When you get through that, you get through the next day and before you know it – you’ve completed 15, then 79 days in a row.

Some days will feel easier than others. Some days will fly by. Perhaps outside factors will make your day more challenging, but you know what? It doesn’t matter what happens, you have the strength to overcome anything.

Tip #3: Outcomes drive behaviours, hence repetition doesn’t equal boring.

How many times have you eaten your favourite meal? Watched your favourite movie? Listened to your favourite song?

Over the years I’ve become accustomed to an important philosophy: The outcome drives the behaviour

I eat healthy because I know that means my body is getting nutrients it needs.

I exercise because I know it keeps my body and organs in good working order.

Whatever we do in life, especially things that we love, there’s a danger of becoming complacent and finding it boring. That’s why I say the end result drives behaviour, not your behaviour drives the result. Understanding why you do something is what builds healthy sustainable daily actions.

Tip #4: Gratitude is the foundation

When you stop being grateful for the fact that you can hear, then it becomes easy to get bored with listening to your favourite song.

If you lack appreciation for your body being fully abled, then you’d get bored being able to climb one of the 7 natural wonders of the world every day.

It takes a minute for your life to change dramatically. Nothing is guaranteed, and nothing is owed to you. Remember that.

Tip #5: What you focus on is what you get

If you worry about getting bored – you’ll get bored. If you love each day for the different options available to you then you’ll find new exciting things to experience each day.

Each day I get excited for the new experience that awaits me. I get excited for the fact that I AM doing it again! I’d rather be on the mountain than in traffic. I understand that I’m being blessed with healthy rejuvenating calming stress-relieving energy by being in nature. That each step is changing someone’s life for the better.

I focus on all the positive aspects about what I’m doing.

Start practicing today.

You don’t need to climb a mountain every day to put these tips into practice. Take breathing as an example, although it happens automatically do you get bored breathing? Take time to be aware and experience all the different ways you can breathe:

 : while walking

: while running

: while swimming

: while meditating

: while focusing on each breath

: doing breathing exercises

: out one nostril, in the other

Boredom’s born from expecting joy to be given to us; but when you can find joy in even the tiniest moment – you’ll never be bored again.

The choice is yours.

 Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 to build homes; teach children in under resourced schools to read; and increase the database for Leukaemia. Build. Teach. Life. To be part of the movement head to https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

Love and respect. Thank you.