Words by: Elisa Røtterud
Photos by: Elisa Røtterud, Furtemba Sherpa, and Lakpa Sherpa
The road is created while you get lost. I am Elisa. This is my story.
Are we born without a goal? Or is it the opposite? Some people claim that the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you found out why. I have spent half my life trying to figure out this WHY – and the pieces are slowly starting to fall into place. Nevertheless, the road is created while you get lost – so this WHY is never completely constant.
Let’s go back in time- because it all starts in our childhood.
When I was a little girl, I had a cozy ritual every Saturday morning togehter with my dog aka sister- a border collie.Yeah, there weren’t that many kids where I grew up in the Norwegian countryside. From 8-9am, we watched TV in the morning and ate pancakes and dog food. Yeah, I grew up on dog food.
Pippi was the first thing we started with, and she quickly became a great role model to us.
Pippi is faithful to herself and her own values and she trusts her own judgments – even if they can be completely crazy and sometimes rather stupid. In addition to being good, warmhearted, cool and strong- mentally and physically- she became our hero.
Right then and there, we decided that we were never going to embrace the 9-5 adult life. We wanted to see the world with the enthusiastic eyes of a child.
We were going to be like Pippi.
Unfortunately, my sister aka dog went to heaven when I was 12- so I continued my big search after meaning alone.
I found myself in the fashion industry.
Cosmo Girl. Here I worked as a fashion Director and traveled all over the world for fashion weeks, launches of important stuff such as lipsticks and perfumes. And I mustn’t forget the parties! There was a party everywhere I went.
But as time passed, I found out that I feel most comfortable and happy when I look like this:
Swollen face from exhaustion. Greasy hair. Dirty as hell. And with the vomit and diarrhea bucket next to me. Then I am at my very, very happiest. And my journey to worship this ideal of beauty has been a long one.
I have now self-realized myself so many times that I am overqualified to be self-realized. I have been on so many educational trips, I can only congratulate myself. Totally confused and lost! But on all these journeys, I have picked up some experiences that I have put in my backpack. Because you might as well take some goodies with you on the way, I think.
The road is created while you get lost.
Today we spend an incredible amount of time regretting things we have done. Why did I do that? What was I thinking? Why am I such an idiot? What’s the point of spending your time and energy on regretting?
My vision in my 20s was to become a serious journalist. Instead, I went to parties with Paris Hilton! Do I regret this today? Absolutely not.
Buddha said it so well:
“Do not dwell in the past – do not dream of the future – but concentrate your mind on the present moment.”
It’s not about being the best. It’s about being better than yesterday.
Coaches say today that we should be the best version of ourselves.
We must be the best at work – the best in bed – the best trained – the best – the best – the best. I think it should be very good at work, very good at sports, and (hopefully) very good in bed. It creates far less pressure of expectation and stress. It’s about being better than yesterday. But to become better than yesterday, you have to train. The body and the mind. Work. Work. Work. And to become better than yesterday you have to allow yourself to fail, fail, fail.
“It is hard work to be better than yesterday.”
Research says that exercise is one thing most successful people do every day. Regular physical activity can give you up to four extra hours of productivity each day.
Exercise your mind and body!
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
In today’s performance generation society, we have countless roles. We are corporate at work, cool after work and we must ooze charisma in all channels.
How often do you judge someone by first impressions? Don’t judge a book by its cover!
Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.
If you forget to breathe in all your multitasking in everyday life – you become constipated, stressed and ugly. Your breathing is your strongest tool! And since we’re taking a breath, we’re going to make a pit stop in Asia. Because it was here I started my self-realization journey(s).
I was determined to become a yogi – because I thought that everyone who practices yoga is so pretty, they glow and have such beautiful hair – and yeah, I wanted to have that too. And even though Yoga is a 5,000-year-old tradition and the mother of all sports, it’s still hot.
I went to an ashram in the tropical jungle of Kerala.
My plan was to stay here for a month to become pretty and glowing. I wasn’t allowed to talk- only pray and do yoga. Already after a week I started to get hungry and restless. Am I really going to spend 4 weeks of my life on this, I thought? I wasn’t mentally ready for such an intense journey.
So I decided to escape.
Sometimes you are just not ready for the tasks you set yourself. You must fail! But there were a few things that I brought with me from India. The power of breathing. In Ashtanga this is called the ojai breath. And I took mental training with me. I found out that the biggest muscle we have is the one between the ears. And I realized that I definitely have to train this one! Then I rolled up my yoga mat and headed for Africa. Because now I wanted to be a drummer and play Afro Beat.
Drumplayer in Africa
I drummed my way through Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya- Zanzibar, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.
Unfortunately, I soon discovered my lack of drumming skills. Nevertheless, I found wonderful treasures that I brought home from Africa.
-Rhythm and laughter
-Patience (Which is very important when you’re waiting for the perfect weather window!)
Welcome to Nature
But why cross the stream for water? Can’t we find the answers at home?
I got a sudden attraction towards nature and the mountains. And then I finally, a late bloomer, discovered Norrøna with its vision of Welcome to Nature. I will never forget the day I went to the Norrøna Flagship Store in Oslo and bought my first pair of lofoten Gore-Tex pants. The year was 2011. It felt as a new world as far as it could get from Cosmopolitan magazine!
My first pair of lofoten Gore-Tex pants from 2011:
Free Air Life
Norwegians are experts when it comes to being in the great outdoors.
We call this way of lifestyle friluftsliv– “free-air-life”.
“Free-air Life” was popularized in the 1850s by the Norwegian playwright and poet, Henrik Ibsen, who used the term to describe the value of spending time in remote locations for spiritual and physical wellbeing.
We have a saying that goes: Livet er best ute. Life is best outside. And: Det er ingenting som heter dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
“Yeah, that’s why Norrøna items are as normal as a pair of jeans in Norway. We spend time in nature, no matter condidtions.”
Friluftsliv is part of our DNA.
Spending time outdoors is deeply rooted in our understanding of life and our national identity. Friluftsliv is a philosophical approach and strong connection to being in nature. It is a mixture of outdoor recreation, adventure, freedom seeking and connection.
That’s why Norrøna’s vision is Welcome To Nature. Norrøna wants everybody to have a fantastic time in the great outdoors.
Studies show that:
Outdoor experiences make us more harmonic, happier, more creative, and less stressed.
Researchers can tell that nature reduces frustration and aggression, and gives a sense of mastery and meaning in life.
How to create a richer life?
A small adjustment creates a big journey in the long run. Adjust the course a little! Get out! PLAY! Make a micro adventure in your everyday life. Why sleep in your bed when you can sleep outside on your balcony?
The point of no return.
By now the pieces were starting to fall somewhat into place. Because what do you get when you mix:
-Pippi (A role model)
-Ojai Breathing (great in high altitude)
-Mental training (important when you need to be focused)
-Enthusiasm (always be enthusiastic!)
-Norrøna’s Welcome to Nature philosophy (The best gear and Norwegian Friluftsliv)
I ended up in the Himalayas.
It felt like coming home. Finally!
I went there for the first time 11 years ago – and have been here 10 times since then. Today I have climbed 6,7 and 8K meter peaks – and I also have a Norwegian first ascent of a 7K meter.
It has been 11 years of training, failure, pain and success. There was one mountain in particular that became the turning point of my life. And it wasn’t Everest as many of you would guess. Today, Everest is commercial with its endless queues and sky-high prices. I don’t want to queue! And there are plenty of mountains to climb.
When I saw the mountain Ama Dablam for the first time I started to cry. And I became obsessed with climbing it. I sold my Jimmy Choo sandals and bought crampons – got a mentor – and started my training. Ama is referred to as the world’s most beautiful mountain and it is a technical mountain. After 2 years of intense training on other mountains, I was ready.
That year there was a risk of avalanches and I had to turn at Camp 2. But it gave me valuable experience: The summit is a bonus. So did I give up?
Of course not!! I went home, continued my training in the Norwegians mountains, saved money, and went back. Since then I have been to Ama three times. I love this mountain so much.
And as the years have passed on my journeys to the Himalayas, I have taken more treasures with me in my backpack.
Give compliments to strangers you meet every day.
It’s so wonderful to make others feel good. It makes you feel happy too! It creates good vibes.
You won’t get very far on your own.
You don’t get far in life by running solo races. You are completely dependent on others to achieve your goals. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Without humor you won’t get very far. Don’t take yourself too seriously. When you haven’t showered for a month, embrace your new style.
You have to know that you are taking a risk.
Avalanches and altitude sickness are the most common dangers. In recent times, queues and incompetence have also become commonplace.
Go the service route for experience and altitude meters. You don’t start on a 8K meter, but on a 6K meter mountain. It can take several years to achieve your goal. Remember that in your everyday life too!
And if you’re lucky with the weather, your spirit and your body – then you will experience magical moments on the mountain.
The summit itself is always a terrible anti-climax, between us. You stand there for a couple of minutes to take a summit picture – and then it’s time to descend. Because when you’re at the summit, you’re halfway there – it’s on the way down that most accidents happen.
The joy of reaching your goal comes when you are safely back in base camp. And that taste of success is indescribable. Sometimes you may get a summit blues, a sense of feeling totally empty after an expedition, but I can write about that another time.
-Do you have the picture? I asked
-Yeah, said my climbing sherpa.
Me trying to pose with the Norøna logo on the top of Himlung Himal (7126 masl) in heavy wind.
(Back on camp 2, we nailed it!)
So from drinking cocktails with Paris Hilton to dancing with the Sherpas in Nepal. I’ve gotten lost a lot on the way. Life is full of surprises.
Follow your dreams. And be a good person along the way.
Now I’m off to my next adventure in the Himalayas. This time from India where I’m going to try to climb the mountain Shivling. India’s answer to Matterhorn. It is a technical beauty! After all, the road is created while one gets lost.