An Inward Journey on the Tour du Mont Blanc

By: Fabian DeGarbo

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February 8, 2019 | 50th Anniversary Stories

My MT Sobek journey changed my life. Born and raised in Colorado, USA, I have always been a big hiker. So when three friends and I decided to tackle the Tour du Mont Blanc I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Little did I know the real journey I was about to have was inward.

I am the type of person who likes to plan my own adventures, to be in control. One of the best parts of this trip was being able to let go: to let someone else plan all the details so I could just focus on the experience. And that’s exactly what happened.

Since I didn’t do any of the planning, I didn’t realize that our group would include people other than my friends. I assumed it would just be the four of us plus the guides. I had a lot of anxiety about spending 8 days with strangers. I always had anxiety about meeting new people, but never knew why, until this trip.

We were the first group of the season to depart Chamonix to walk 100 miles around the base of Mont Blanc. That meant we would encounter challenges beyond what we expected. Traversing snowy peaks where people kept slipping, the pouring rain that dampened our spirits, eating our first lunch together in the rain, and worrying if the entire week would be like this.

Adversity brings you closer, and by the end of the first day we had already started to become friends. As the days went by and the clouds parted, so did any barriers between us former strangers. We passed the long hiking days by telling the stories of our lives, and started to become friends.

I can’t explain if it was the beauty of the mountains, or the freshest air I’ve ever breathed, but by the fourth day, under the massive blue sky and snow capped peaks I felt compelled to tell a story I had never told before.

Somehow, after decades of keeping it buried deep inside, the difficult story of the severe bullying I endured for all of middle and high school just came pouring out of my soul into the vast space around us. The relief of letting go of that trauma freed something inside me to let these strangers past my self constructed walls. And while I went on this trip with three other friends, I came back with seven.

The Tour du Mont Blanc was the catalyst to a major shift in my life from someone who didn’t know why I had such anxiety meeting new people, and such a need to be liked, to a confident person who has succeeded much more in work and life since I got home.

The best things in life aren’t things, they are experiences. And the ultimate experiences take you out of your comfort zone. I look forward to my next trip with MT Sobek.

Fabian DeGarbo, MT Sobek Guest

MT Sobek Trip: Tour du Mont Blanc, 2018