"The road and sea journey allows me to reach a level of mental equilibrium in which there is no room for thoughts of the past and future, only the present - living in the moment, as it is commonly called. This is an extremely dangerous place to be because if you are truly in the moment you can have the mistaken belief that you are immortal."
You’ve likely heard of or seen Iain Miller at one point or another.
Iain does something totally remarkable, totally unique, and, well, totally crazy: he freeclimbs towering rock formations which protrude from the ocean - known as sea stacks.
Regarded as the world’s only professional sea stack climber, Iain has ascended over 50 of these natural towers that jut out from the water, looking upon vertical impossibility as an adventure into the unknown. Iain has spent decades finding and climbing some of the most daunting sea stacks on Earth, namely Cnoc na Mara – Irelands highest sea stack – which he had climbed free-solo in 2015, stating that it took him a ten years to gain the correct mental approach to even contemplate going for it.
Iain has climbed his way to being one of the top climbers in the world, but this story isn’t necessarily about the phenomenal ascents he’s made; rather, this is about the descents that Iain makes into his own mind with each and every climb – something that proves to be just as thrilling, challenging and exponentially more rewarding than any physical climb.
“The inner you is found in the darkest recess of your subconscious where the true self lives free of all outside influences and as such is both the most terrifying and most enlightening of places you can ever visit.”
In our correspondence, Iain outlines his psychological venturing before, during and after a climb, noting his experience with acute detail that immediately illustrates a man who is remarkably in tune with his psyche.
He runs me through his thought-process before a climb, noting that everything – every aspect of the weather, the sea, and every external circumstance must be aligned to perfection, taking any imperfection as a sign to change or abandon plans entirely.
I ask him if he subscribes to Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity, which he whole-heartedly seems to, but more so grounding coincidence in self-actualization and a pure reliance on living in the present:
"If you consider the fact that there is no such thing as a coincidence and, therefore, everything happens for a reason... This is also an excellent gauge as to whether the time is right for the chosen goal... This is where the journey to the inner realms both begins or ends."
Iain then guides me through his thought-process during the actual climbs themselves:
“This is when the mental battle commences as reason and paranoia jostle for the dominant position. The road and then sea journey allows me to reach a level of mental equilibrium in which there is no room for thoughts of the past and future only the present, living in the moment as it is commonly called”
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