August 2020

    Trust Takes You Further: The Power of Relationship

    “Building our relationship in the outdoors has definitely had its challenges, but the trust that has been earned through these experiences is invaluable.”


    Man and woman hiking up a mountain.

    Liz Furmanski, and her husband (and mountain partner) Collin, as they ascend White Chuck Mountain, in the Cascade Mountains.



    In most areas of our lives, we tend to gravitate toward people that are similar to us.

    They may have the same interests, appreciate the same humor, or believe in the same values.

    When hanging out with these people, each of us feels confident that we will have a good time and be comfortable and fulfilled in their presence.

    But for mountaineers, choosing a team to bring into the mountains tends to have a different criterion…

    The buddy you call to have a beer with on Friday night may not be the same person you trust to embark on a dangerous mountaineering excursion the following weekend.

    The trust you must have in your adventure partners is a different type that requires knowledge, skill, and experience. It also requires dependable emotional and mental capacities during high levels of stress and discomfort.

    These factors play an essential role in the ability to make quick and smart decisions and rely on your team, not only to help you achieve your goal but to keep you safe throughout the process of pursuing it.


    Man and woman working as a team to climb, near the peak.

    Teamwork makes the dream work.


    Earning trust in individuals at this level can take some time, so it can be difficult to find the right group with which you feel secure.

    Luckily for me, the guy I grab a drink with and my top adventure partner happens to be the same person…

    My husband, Collin.

    We met 10 years ago, and my life has never been the same.


    Happy couple, as they stand at the top of a mountain.

    There’s no greater feeling that having accomplished what we set out to do.


    Growing up in Illinois, my family didn’t frequent the wilderness too often. Our vacations took place more at beach sides where relaxation was the goal.

    When I met Collin in college, I could already tell our life together would be far less “relaxing.” His intense passion for living every minute of his life to the fullest evolved into a love for the outdoors & mountaineering, which I gladly joined in on.

    We started our first big adventure together by hiking the Appalachian Trail, a 6-month backpacking trip that opened our eyes to the sheer beauty of our country. The trip impacted us so much that it caused us to move away from the Midwest and embark on countless other epic excursions in the Northeast, and eventually moving out to the Pacific Northwest, where we currently live.


    Couple relaxing at a campsite.

    Tents are our second home.


    I’ve lost count, but I can guess that we’ve spent over 500 nights in a tent together, and Collin can likely also tell you the exact number of summits we’ve tagged as a team.

    I asked him….. it’s 85.

    VIDEO: Watch the summit of Mt. McLoughlin, one of the famous Cascade Volcanoes, in Southern Oregon. Video c/o The Wild Outsiders.


    Building our relationship in the outdoors has definitely had its challenges, but the trust that has been earned through these experiences is invaluable. 

    Collin immerses himself in the ins and outs of every trip we take, and I can always count on him to be a proficient route finder, a skilled athlete, and most importantly, to have the determination to accomplish what we set out to do.


    Man on the peak of a mountain.

    If there is a “further”, Collin usually finds it.


    Anyone who knows Collin well can speak to the intensity of his being.

    For instance, if he invites you to go play frisbee, you know you’re agreeing to a couple of hours of being encouraged to “go deep” or perform catches behind the back or between the legs. Simply engaging in a conversation with Collin can be a sport, interspersing question after question to make you think deeper than you usually do.

    This same intensity applies to our outdoor objectives. I know that when I enter the mountains with Collin, he will help me push my limits and inspire me to step out of my comfort zone.

    I always try to push myself each time an objective is chosen for an upcoming adventure. I’ll choose to embark on a higher, more challenging and more technical trip in order to continue to gain experiences to build my skills further than they were the last trip. I hardly ever attempt the same trip more than one time once it’s been checked off the list. So, each new summit is a learning opportunity that builds trust in myself to go even further the next time.

    Because going further requires you to push yourself outside of your comfort bubble, it feels frightening but intoxicating.

    It’s a collision of endorphins and a healthy dose of fear that creates an addiction to going further, time and time again. The sense of accomplishment and the visions of endless potential are what keep me setting bigger goals.


    Mountaineer standing on top of a snow-capped mountain peak.

    All the sweat. All the soreness. All the focus. It’s always worth it.


    I know that I will be questioning our motives as we move through precipitous terrain but that I may be on the verge of tears with relief after reaching the top. But more importantly, I have earned immense trust from my partner. That trust gives me the confidence I need to perform in fierce situations, to reach objectives I never thought I could, and to go further.

    On our wedding day atop the Grand Teton, in Grand Teton National Park, we vowed to live healthy and active lives and to continue our adventurous lifestyles together.

    I’m so grateful for the trust I feel in that promise.




    Written by Liz Furmanski. All images by The Wild Outsiders (Liz Furmanski & Collin Blunk) and Nate Brown.

    To learn more about what Liz and Collin do in the outdoors, you can keep up with them in the following places:





    For more stories from the mountains, be sure to check out the Helly Hansen blog!



    Tags: helly hansen, odin, mountain, mountains, mountaineer, backpacking, trek, trekking, hike, hiking, outdoor, outdoors, peak, summit, peaks, summits, objective, mission, washington, trust, wild outsiders, collin blunk, liz furmanski, further