Last Night I looked Up in the Sky and Gave Thanks
On April 19-21 we went to Camp 1. The game plan was to go to Camp 1, spend 2 nights there and then take a day trip to Camp 2 on the 20th. Instead we got caught in a wind storm (40-80 mph winds) and so we got to hang out at Camp 1 the whole time. On the 21st we walked half way up to Camp 2, saw the 5 strung ladder and then headed down.
The trip up to Camp 1 was magical through the Kumbu Ice Fall....a mystical maze of crevasses and obstacles, clipping in and out of the fixed lines up the mountain. We left at 4:30 AM and it took me 7 hours to get up! I was happy because I made the time limit to get up there :) I have been a little self conscious about my speed, so it felt good to make it! It also felt good to make it because, at least now I know I can make it to Camp 2. The wind storm was exciting and Everest gave us a little taste of what she is made of. Basically, it reminded us that we can only go as far as she will let us. Up and the camp, Pam and I were tent mates and it was fun to catch up. We also read parts of my book, Little Book of Wisdom from the Dali Lama. It brought up some interesting conversations. Coming down the ice fall sometimes I felt like Jane in a Tarzan movie as some of the kicked in steps were waaaaay to big for my short little legs. So it was some dangling rope maneuvers and jumps! All clipped in and safe of course! The real test will be on the 25th, when we head to Camp 2, and then head to Camp 3---the move to Camp 3 has been described the toughest portion of the trip by some. So hopefully I can make it! Then we will come back down on May 3rd and venture down the valley to recoup and then just wait for the right moment to go for the summit push in late May. Time here is flying and part of me feels like this adventure and incredible journey will be over before I know it!
The trip up to Camp 1 was also special because it was the first time I got to climb with my personal Sherpa, Jang Bu :) He truly is one of the nicest, most patient, and kindest person I have met. He taught me the Nepali word bistahrai, which means "slowly". He said slowly, hopefully we will make the summit. That meant a lot to me. He taught me this word because I kept apologizing for going so slow through the ice fall, a place where you want to get out fast. Jang Bu has summit ted Everest 6 times, 3 times from the North and 3 times for the South. He is extremely humble and looks after me : ) I have nothing to prove up here, which is why I got a personal Sherpa... to have an expert by my side to help me navigate this mountain. I am going to learn so much from him I can tell. It has also been great to start building that bond as well. I think he just got a new camera, so we both took turns taking pictures of one another through the ice fall. My favorite was when he ran onto the five strung ladder above Camp 1 so I could take a photo of him....meanwhile everyone was trying to go around the ladder as it looked a bit tricky. Basically, Sherpas are amazing people, and we are so blessed for them and their incredible talent.
Overall the ice fall and the ladders where not a scary as I thought it would be. It felt good to be on the mountain finally. When I was tired going up and I though I couldn't go any further, I thought " you are in the Kumbu Ice Fall, a place you have dreamt about and wanted to be at for years, now suck it up, enjoy this experience of a lifetime, and keep moving :)." It worked, a little self tough love.
Yesterday we learned about our oxygen masks and had a safety talk. Tim and the guides are consistent in reminding up what we are up against and how we need to be smart about the decisions we make. As Tim said, Everest has never taken anything from him, and it should not take anything from any of us...not our lives, our fingers, our toes, etc.
Yesterday I also went to town on my tent! I moved it and re shoveled the platform to lay flat as I was not able to get a good night sleep as with the snow melt it had shifted the platform and my head was below my feet! Now it is all fixed and the shoveling was a great workout on my rest day :)
So last night we all watched the Bucket List in our dining tent and when I got back to my tent I looked up into the most beautiful clear sky and gave thanks for my life, for all the amazing experiences I have had so far, for my family, my friends, for my job and sponsor, and for the chance to pursue a dream, this dream of a lifetime. I felt so blessed, so loved, and had the best sleep of the trip yet.
More to come after we make it down from our next rotation on the mountain. I hope I make it to Camp 3 and that will likely mean I can go for the summit push in late May. Regardless of the outcome of this trip, it will be an experience that will stay with me a lifetime. It is not about the summit, but the journey...although the summit would be AMAZING of course!!
On a side note, all the health issues seem to have passed. My endometriosis acted up on this last trip to the mountain, but I have managed to get through that as well. I am feeling back to my old self again...whooohooo!
A special thanks to my family and friends for all of their support, to our donors and supporters making a difference for women in DRC, for International Medical Corps and VDAY for their amazing work in DRC, for McKinney Rogers for partially sponsoring me to be here, and for Peak Freaks for keeping us climbers safe!!
P.S. I am craving Portos Bakery in LA, Pupusas, Vigoron, Maduros Fritos, Tacolicious, hmmmmm, basically yummy food :)