expeditions and serious climbing objectives require a wide range of assets. planning, obviously, and being in condition, of course. it goes without saying you need the right weather, and the appropriate equipment. and then you need the time, and the vision and the people and the money as well. trips to exotic places need visas and permits and translators, and holidays and excuses and credit cards and reasons.

each piece has its niche and a time when it falls in place, but beyond it all is the one constant, the unifying element that strings it all together: wherewithal.

wherewithal is what makes going somewhere totally new happen: Dan & Gerald somewhere deep in the maze of gullies at about 5250m on Gangga VII

wherewithal = motivation + ability x integrity. a lot can be achieved with just one or two of those factors, but its combined and multiplied as wherewithal that sets things apart from the norm. its the element of wherewithal that makes some trips shine with unexpected originality whilst others are just repeated ideas.

unlike ability, condition, integrity etc, wherewithal is not a faculty – its a relationship. it exists as a force between faculties that cannot be obtained, yet it can be exercised and so strengthened. fortifying your wherewithal is a process of overriding your unknowns to turn them into an attitude that makes big things happen. those who have a large degree of wherewithal achieve more than just motivation or ability can produce – they get things done where others failed to see there was even an opportunity, by exercising the integrity to give momentum to seemingly unbaked ideas. wherewithal is what sets visionaries apart from dreamers.

wherewithal is the connecting fiber that puts the grimmest times into perspective and makes them valuable, turning problems and unknowns into the gristle of achievement. motivation and attitude may get you over the rough patches, but its wherewithal that connects them all to make unique things happen. wherewithal is the perspective that comes from knowing what degree of risk can be harnessed, and that the risk of simply taking on originality is reward enough. in a world where the illusion of everything being in order is accepted, its wherewithal that allows the few who confront the blanks on the map to be the ones who see things first.

applied to expedition climbing, its wherewithal that connects the fantasy of trips into truly unknown places with the actuality of being there. of the thousand things that need to happen to really climb new ground and peer into places unrecorded, wherewithal is what gives them spin in the right direction so they happen. without wherewithal, expeditions become just climb by numbers, exotic holidays, fantasy camps. or they simply dont happen at all.

simply put; most people who want it dont have it. the wherewithal needed to turn the fantasy of expedition climbing into the reality of it is absent. in its place is a string of pale reasons, masking the basic fact that the process of turning ideas into reality just wasnt enough. without wherewithal the boots stay in the closet, the hardware keeps its shine, the sleeping bags limit remain untested and the idea goes to someone else.