Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On Everest, it's time for a summit push

Hi All,
As of 9 May we have finished our training/acclimatization period here, having hiked and climbed about 100 miles (up and down) between 17,056 ft. (Base Camp/Camp 1) and 24,300 ft. (between Camp 4 and Camp 5). Now, we’ve returned to Base Camp (BC) and will head down to local towns lower down for some rest and relaxation, and the higher oxygen content, before returning to BC on 14 May and beginning to move up the mountain again for summit attempts.

Most of us remaining appear to be generally healthy, with the exception of just about everyone having some sort of cough (due to the dry air and high altitude) of varying intensities. There are also one or two climbers that physically aren’t going to have a shot in any way, shape or form at even getting close to the summit. One man, in particular, sticks out. He’s a good guy and from Colorado, but probably should have left the mountain a week or two ago, but can’t bring himself to admit that he’s done here. While the rest of us have been up to Camp 4 twice already, he hasn’t been able to make it beyond Advanced Base Camp/Camp 3 due to various physical issues.

Coming to try and climb Everest clearly has been a dream of his for a very long time, and he took a second job to earn the money to get here, but in his obsession to try and reach the summit, he’s missing out on the whole point of mountaineering (and life in general) and potentially putting his life in jeopardy by continuing to try and climb when he is not fit to do so. I don’t feel sorry for him, because he’s old enough to have learned (if he can) that it’s the journey, not necessarily the destination, that counts most while cruising down life’s highway. If you aim high, knowing that sometimes you’ll hit low, with your life’s dreams and aspirations, you will inevitably accomplish great things. Summits are great and spectacular achievements, but just a small part of the whole picture, of the journey. He clearly hasn’t learned this yet.

To borrow a quote from the John Candy movie "Cool Runnings," “If you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”

So far, although I’ve reached all my initial goals for this expedition, I could walk away tomorrow without having come one step closer to the summit and be completely satisfied. Not so for my friend from Colorado, and more than a few others here.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."
-- Gen. Colin Powell

However, so far I’m still healthy and in the game, but also realistic about my chances of reaching the summit. Of the 15 or so climbers still here hoping to reach the top, 3 or 4 might make it. Such is the difficulty of reaching Mt. Everest, the place on our planet where Heaven and Earth meet (quote borrowed from my friend Tish Stropes). If your only definition of success is the summit, than you’re bound to be disappointed. But what an incredible and glorious goal to strive for.

We’ll be starting back up the mountain from BC around May 15th to make summit attempts.
Stay tuned, David

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