Perspective, Part II: One Year of Cole's Climb
Looking back at the first year I've spent writing for you all; some of my favorite pieces, the lessons I've learned, and where it all goes from here
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On June 8th, 2021, after much contemplation, I pressed “publish” on the first edition of “Cole’s Climb.” It went out to my subscriber list of exactly zero people — not including my own test account.
The piece was called Perspective, a mere 180 words about how nature can help us rethink our approach to common problems.
Likewise, the past year has given me new perspective on both the outdoors, and writing.
Talking into the Void
The hardest part of those early days was knowing how few people were actually reading my work. Other creatives have described this part of the process as sitting at a campfire near a trail in the woods: talking to yourself until strangers stop by to join you.
Because my medium is written, it felt to me more like tossing out a message in a bottle into a stormy sea — every Thursday morning. Each piece, a scroll of soggy paper more likely to end up on the ocean floor than in front of another human being.
What’s even more frustrating is that some of those early stories are among my favorites.
Driving to the Danger — commentary on our risk averse lifestyle
“Make Your Friends Jealous with an Instagram-Worthy Hike” — a take-down of peak bagging culture
Lying to your Hiking Partner — a tongue-in-cheek piece about being bogged down with worry
All of these pieces were seen by a handful of family members and close friends. Writing also felt much more labor intensive.
Long-time readers of Cole’s Climb may have noticed my posts creeping up in length. It used to take days of focus to squeeze out a couple paragraphs. Now, thousand-word essays flow about as easily as the various creeks and rivers I record for my literal “live streams” on social media.
But the big change for me had nothing to do with audience size, but rather came as a matter of perspective.
We’re on an Adventure Together
I’ve always hated the idea of turning the spotlight on myself — a weird thing to say when the publication bears my name, I know. I originally intended for this publication to be a kind of journal as I sought to master rock climbing and mountaineering.
The more I wrote and explored though, the more I wanted to find ways to shine the spotlight on other interesting people I met from the outdoor community. I started the Trail Talk podcast, and was blown away by how many people were willing to sit down with me and share their stories:
A trail crew builder, working to improve the routes up to Colorado’s 14’ers
A mountaineer and teacher training to be a part of the first all-Black crew to summit Everest
The more I did these conversations, the more I realized this endeavor isn’t a one-way street. We’re all on an adventure together.
The Future of Cole’s Climb
If I told past-Cole how many people would be subscribing during the first year, I doubt he’d believe me. I blew straight past my one-year goals. I’ve met so many incredible hikers, writers, and creators along the way.
I’ve also connected with a ton of you through Summit Squad — the weekly-ish email that goes out to the most avid readers. This is the most seriously I’ve ever taken my writing ambitions, and it’s also the greatest number of eyes I’ve ever had on my work.
It’s scary and exciting, all at once.
I’m fully committed to growing this publication; working to expand the quality of the content you receive in your inbox every week. Long-time readers may have noticed I’ve already upgraded my audio setup from the early days of the podcast, and also purchased a camera to include high quality images and videos with the stories.
Expect more investigations, conversations, essays, and resources to help improve and expand the outdoor community we so dearly love.
I look forward to taking you to new places and seeing how my perspective will have changed another year from now.
Thank you for joining me on this incredible journey.
The group, Full Circle Everest, succeeded in May of 2022
Congrats on one year of publishing!
We are indeed all on an adventure together in 2022.