Climb Every Continent, Surf Every Ocean
What I learned from my global surf-and-turf challenge.
Weeks later, I was descending from the summit of Everest when clouds blew in. A blizzard hit us hard and left the team badly scattered along the Southeast Ridge. We made a few key decisions that pulled everyone through. Some of the Sherpas saw it differently. They attributed our survival to the amulet. It was inscribed with the meaning of life; it had juice.
With every surf trip, every climbing expedition, another bizarre entanglement popped up. Debacles led to friendships; failed summits led to lawsuits; and on a climb half a world away I met my wife, even though she lived in Washington, D.C., just two Metro stops from me. Thinking back, I realize now that every adventure was telling me the same thing: The world is an intertwined, luminous, unending ball of threads. And after 10 years of puzzling over that amulet, it is here, with my wet suit dripping on a small crescent of sand in the Arctic Circle, where I finally realize what it says. It's a simple message, really: Go pull a thread.
Francis Slakey is a professor of physics at Georgetown University and a lobbyist for the American Physical Society. As part of the 2002 Olympic Games, he carried the Olympic torch from the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Photograph of Francis Slakey by Matt Girard and April Sauerwine.