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Jarod Cogswell in Chamonix: "I chose this image because it was the best day I had ever experienced in the mountains."

Editor's Note: Local climber, boarder and fitness pro Jarod Cogswell got to achieve a lifelong goal this spring when he traveled to Chamonix, France to experience the Alps. The trip was a life changer, as he explains in comments recorded  in sync with the video he created on the plane ride home.

For 15 years I’ve had this dream of climbing in the Alps. I always wanted to go to Chamonix.

I recently quit drinking, and it’s been life-changing. I’ve been so present, so aware. I woke up in the middle of the night and I thought, it’s time to chase the dream. It’s time to attack it. It’s time to get there, now. The very next morning I booked my flight to Chamonix. And I tell you what, it was an experience I will never forget.

And I hope that it becomes my home away from home. Because it wasn’t just about the experience and the climbing and the snowboarding. It was about the people. And the culture. And the history.

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I’ve dreamt about the Alps and seen pictures of the Alps. I’ve studied the Alps, but actually putting your two feet in the Alps is something that is mind-blowing.

We went over to the Italian Alps to find good weather, and we made an attempt at Gran Paradiso. I met all kinds of amazing people there, local climbing legends that have done big things but are still filled with so much humility.

They were more interested in me, and all I wanted was to hear their stories. So it was kind of a fight in the conversation, to learn more about each other.

We went after Gran Paradiso and the weather was good except the winds were super-high, and we stopped 1,000 feet short of the summit because the winds had reached 100 kilometers per hour.

 

So I went back to Chamonix, and Kevin, my guide who really became my friend, I think for life, we went dry-tooling, we did what the locals do. I went there to climb Mt. Blanc and the Matterhorn and the Eiger, but instead I just lived like a local for two weeks, and it was better than living like a tourist.

We skied the Valle Blanche. I didn’t know this kind of beauty existed. Going down the Valle Blanche. We talk about hero turns, well, that place can make you look awesome, but it can also make you look pretty bad. Especially when you see a bunch of Frenchmen ski it before you. It’s very humbling. You realize that you’re fighting to be mediocre when you get to the Alps.

But no matter what, we’re all doing it together. It was so great to be accepted for who I was, and just being surrounded by tigers. These people, they live a different life. They don’t get bogged down with the monotony. It was so refreshing. People say, well, that’s because you’re on vacation, and I say bullshit. That’s the way you’re supposed to live. You follow your passion, you follow your purpose, you follow your dreams. And you go out and inspire others. And that’s what I got to do. And I’ve been trying to bring this Chamonix feeling that’s in my blood now back with me, trying to remind myself that I am a tiger, that I don’t live like a sheep.

I tell you, if I could live there, I would. Because if you want to go taste adventure at a major league level, this is the place. For me Chamonix was a dream that came true.

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Jarod Cogswell is the founder of Enterprise Athlete and Oregon’s first hybrid fitness facility, FIT Academy, located in Portland, OR.  Jarod is also the author of "WORK like an Athlete" and is a professional motivational business speaker and coach. As a former rescue volunteer, he is passionate, grateful and humbled by the many life lessons learned and the incredible friendships gained in the mountains, especially Mount Hood.