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Beyond The Wall

by Graeme Walker


Motivation and mountains are inextricably linked, they both seem like a great idea at the time, but when the weather gets rough and the lower lip starts to tremble, it can be a little daunting.

There are few things in the world that feel as good as taking yourself from the bottom of something and ending up on top. Climbing a mountain is a prime example of that. It’s entirely under your own power, a slow process, weathering the elements, what to take, when to go, did I pack that? Should I pack that? All good questions, but you only get to find this out, once you start doing it a bunch of times.

My motivation for getting out in the hills is a selfish one. I am a corporate chimp in the office much like everyone else. I work for a Fortune 100 company and help the shareholders get their slice of the annual pie, and repeat each year. As much as I love my job, I love challenges and getting outside even more. It’s one of the few places that is a level playing field. Most times, you are not competing against anyone else, it’s you vs. you.

It also lets me relax and take in the natural beauty and natural features that the mountains have to offer. The complete opposite environment to the air conditioned office with unlimited coffee I find myself day to day. (Although unlimited coffee is goooooood).

Recently my friends and I decided to head through to Glencoe, the gateway to the Highlands. Glencoe is a spectacular place, with many hills to climb, and an abundance of natural beauty. From the road, it looks fantastic, climb a little higher and it’s truly majestic.

On this day we were going to head up Beinn a’Chrulaiste, The Mountain is rectangular, and can be seen from the A82 road and the Old Military Road (West Highland Way).

You might be sitting there thinking, there’s no way I could get to the hills, much less Glencoe as I am not very fit, I don’t have a car, I am skint, I don’t have all the Gucci techy mountain equipment, I have no time, I don’t even have a pair of boots.

In the corporate world, they call this “Barriers to entry”. It’s a reason, or more importantly a perceived reason, you can’t do something. A barrier to entry in economic terms is part of the reason why some companies thrive, while others fail.

This is the exact same reason why some people succeed at their endeavours, while others crash and burn.

“So how much is this all gonna cost?” I need petrol money or travel money for sure, decent walking kit, food, supplies, a backpack etc etc. All good concerns, except I will ask you a different question.

“What is the cost of doing nothing?”

My guess is, you will pay more than any monetary value, as you will end up paying for it with your well-being and soul.

Now, I am a complete novice hiker / climber and my hope with this blog piece is that it resonates with you guys. It is meant as a “Beginners Guide to Mountains”.

You might find yourself wanting to do more, but you may feel there is a need to be an accomplished climber in order to get out on the hills.

My answer is no… do not.

As far as weather was concerned we were set, sun was shining, the wind was low, and there was a cool, crisp feel to the air that we were about to find ourselves in. If you have a picture of a perfect day in the hills, my guess is it was exactly that.

Having an office based job, the majority of my work is done with computers and lots of mental work, and for this reason alone, I find it worth getting out into the hills. Fresh air, clear the head, re-calibrate and feel a different sense of accomplishment. We left the car park at a reasonable time, and headed for the top.

The first thing that we noticed was that the base of the hill was super boggy, probably from all the rain we have endured lately and having it running to the bottom, however, climb a little higher and we had escaped the mud pockets of earth.

While out on this hill climbing mecca, one thing that I noticed was that despite the type of day it was, the sun shining and the low wind, there was hardly anyone else about. I mean, for the first time climbing this hill, I expected to see loads of people all wanting a slice of the action.

Anyway, off we go again up into the clouds, and already I’m thinking what it’s going to be like at the top. Bearing in mind we started climbing in nothing but our base layers on top. No jacket, no fleece, no hat. It really was a perfect day. Don’t panic though, we had all our wonderful techy stuff in-case the weather closed in, they were just in our packs.

This was also the first time all three of us had used walking poles, or as I like to call them; wizard sticks. They really were fantastic for the uphill, as opposed to two points of contact hoofing up the hill, we were able to engage the upper body too. Highly recommended.



The top is in sight. One final push and we can break out the thermos full of hot tea, and get some food down our necks.

Made it.

Stopping at the top let us cool down, probably a little too much, to the point we then had to get our jackets out the packs, and get them on. No matter, we had made it.


We had climbed the hill under our own power and we were then able to take in the 360 degree vista that Glencoe had to offer. I’ll be honest, for me, there’s always a feeling of elation at the top of the mountain. The hard work that it takes to get there always sinks in and you realise that the juice is worth the squeeze.

One of the biggest challenges in meeting any goal, whether it be related to productivity, waking early, changing a bad habit, or even becoming happier, is finding the motivation to stick with it.

Here we are full circle, Motivation & Mountains. If you can stick with a goal you have for long enough, you’ll almost always get there eventually. It just takes patience and MOTIVATION.

You might be wondering why this piece is called “Beyond the Wall”, well the wall I speak of is a metaphorical one. It’s a wall we all put around ourselves that contains our perceived limits and the reasons we can’t do something.


However, if you push hard enough, you’ll find that the wall isn’t as strong as you once thought, and you will most probably surprise yourself.


I’ll leave you with a favourite quote of mine that I carry around with me and hope that it finds you all well.

“You can’t outwit fate, by standing on the sidelines placing little side bets about the outcome of life…….Either you wade in and risk everything you have to play the game, or you don’t play at all…….and if you don’t play…….you can’t win!” Judith Mcnaught