I wish that I had two more days to get healthy, but I don’t. My respiratory infection is slightly better, but I’m not 100%, and I need to be before I climb Ama Dablam. I am very disappointed, but I know that the best decision is to go home.
Although I would have relished the chance to climb Ama, there is nothing to be disappointed about, I feel incredibly privileged to have stood where only six other people – all friends – have stood. I feel fortunate to have experienced such a quiet, solitary place, and I feel lucky to have climbed such a beautiful, pristine peak.
Every summit teaches me something, if I am paying attention, and I believe that I learned at least two important lessons on Tharke Khang.
First, acclimatization is important (duh!) I am very, very thankful that I was able to safely summit in such a short window (five days after arriving in Kathmandu). But, I could have enjoyed the climb more if I was acclimatized. A lot more. Last year, a friend asked me how I know what my limits are as a climber. It is a simple and fundamental question, and it really bothered me that I didn’t have a solid answer. I don’t know that I do even today. There are certain ethics that are important to me as a climber, like “listen to your body”, and “don’t let your ambition outweigh your ability”, but it is still difficult for me to articulate my limits. On Tharke Khang, I felt like I was closer than I wanted to be to the line that separates safe from not safe. This was completely due to my lack of acclimatization, which forced me to climb slower than I wanted, and stressed my body more than I anticipated. For me, being on the edge felt like I didn’t have enough reserve if something had gone wrong, and that’s not a position that I want to be in. It’s not something that I would intentionally do again.
Second, I am more resilient – we are all more resilient - than we realize. I am very prescriptive about the foods that I consume when climbing. Every bar and electrolyte has been tested previously so I know that it won’t upset my stomach and that I will find it appetizing at elevation. Thanks to delayed luggage, I didn’t re-connect with any of my food until after the climb. (And, was also missing a very handy thing called a pee funnel. It’s complicated when nature calls at 20,000 feet and you’re wearing a harness, mits and layers of down. Jussayin’.)
Huge thanks to the rest of the Madison Mountaineering team for playing along with my tent-to-tent trick-or-treating at base camp! I wouldn’t have had any food if it weren’t for your eagerness to share – thank you! Thank you! So, the lesson is that I am resilient and resourceful enough to still be successful when things don’t go exactly as planned.
Finally, I am really grateful to the rest of the Madison Mountaineering team for welcoming me. I know that it’s disruptive when someone joins a team late, and I am thankful that I was able to fit in so quickly and easily. I am still missing a few key details of a couple stories, though ;)
<pic of team at dinner>