July 3, 2018
Time to start climbing! Kinda. The route from base camp to advanced base camp is really just a slog across flat snow followed by a small ice fall and then a walk on a rocky ridge.
Today's plan was to walk to ABC, spend an hour or so, and then return to BC. I expected it to be easy, since most of the route is flat but I am slowly learning that nothing is easy on K2. Despite the mild terrain I felt excruciatingly slow. And then I began to worry. Because, I've spent 5 days lounging at base camp hopefully provoking my body to build more red blood cells but my lungs don't feel ready for casual walking with a light pack above 17,000 feet (5,182 meters). Mental strength is an important component of a successful climb, and today I didn't feel like I had it. Even a little bit. Instead, I fabricated scenarios in my head that all ended in me not being acclimatized or strong enough to summit. These mental games were a total waste of energy, and I know it, but I couldn't break through the negative thoughts. And then I got mad about that. Argh!
My attitude toward K2 is notably different than Everest. On Everest I felt a quiet confidence that I would safely summit. I don't know where it came from or if it was even real but I carried with me a sense of success. Now, I find myself doubting whether I should even be here. I need to eradicate that notion from my mind if I am going to be successful. So I have two new agreements with myself.
- I will take things one day at a time. It's very easy to look at the massive peak in front of me and become overwhelmed with the challenges that I know it will present. I'm not going to do that. Instead I will just focus on what I need to accomplish each day.
- When I become discouraged I will ask myself if this is all that I am capable of. Today the honest answer to that question was no, so I am going to snuggle into my sleeping bag now, sleep well, and be as prepared as I can possibly be for tomorrow's challenges.