I’m feeling anxious. A myriad of thoughts and anxiety flood my brain: I hate that weather is bad, I don’t like leaving my family, I’m questioning if I had trained hard enough, I’m wondering if I forgot anything, I’m hoping work will survive without me, I’m worried that my body will hold up?
Nearly everyone I know is telling me they don’t know why I do this and sometimes I don’t even know, but I get closer to my “why” with every mountain I climb. It is difficult to describe what I see and you really have to feel it – the beauty and the emotion are overwhelming. The days alone give me time to think, and helps me reset my life, and every time I return I am better from my experience.
My wife, Lisa, is supportive and she gets it, but the closer it gets to the time I am supposed to leave the more she worries. She has been exposed to it herself, and has to listen to me talk nonstop when I get back, energized from the experience. Her faith keeps her anchored.
I have an abscessed tooth that adds to my worries for this trip, and it will need to be pulled when I get back – hopefully not on the mountain by a Sherpa with channel locks.
Tomorrow I leave and will start focusing on the climb. I’m always sad to leave. I miss my family and friends, but the excitement of the next few weeks will begin to kick in when I get to the mountain.
I walk almost 2 weeks before I get to base camp with a yak carrying most of my load. I will then cross the Khumba icefalls 10 times carrying gear to high camps. My route is from the south Nepal side, made famous from the book, Into Thin Air and movie “Everest,” which are both fiction. Weather is bad with it -27 and a wind chill of -60 on the 7th; hoping for a warm up before summit push. My first summit window is day 43 and the second day is day 53. I invested in additional o2 and will be carrying 7 bottles. I’ve packed and unpacked multiple times pruning my pack every time I repack. Today is a day for good-byes and being with loved ones. I am getting texts/calls/emails from friends and well wishers telling me to kick the mountain’s ass or conquer the mountain. I am superstitious about taunting the mountain. If I get to the top, it’s because the mountain let me and God smiled on me again. I also respect the risk and will turn and stop my climb if I think it doesn’t feel right; the experience of the last few years has taught me just how far to push.
I am 12 hours from leaving and Tim is okay. My dad and I are still shaken and the reality of what can happen is even more real than yesterday. I have my kids and friends calling saying goodbye, so what do I do? Tim’s answer when I told him I will be okay climbing Everest was he thought he would be okay drilling a hole in his front yard and almost died. I move forward and choose to climb the mountain and pray to God I make the right choice. Most are worried because it is Everest they don’t know Aconcagua or Elbrus were just as dangerous but not as well known. The next two weeks will be just getting to base camp safely. I will be in villages along the way and hope I can update everyone on my climb, I measure my risk and will return home a much better person for the experience.
I wrote this this morning and spent the rest of the day in the hospital with my family and my brother Tim. He almost died in a farm accident less than a mile from me. My dad was there and cut him from the auger saving his life. They couldn’t life flight him because of the high winds and as I talked to him he was not sure if he would make it. He tells me not to go as I am too important to the family to take the risk. He knows me better than anyone and is right and to be telling me this makes me question even more.
I still am asking myself “Why” I have more answers than last year and every mountain gives me more reasons. For the first time, I will be climbing for a cause “Les wrestles MS”. My college wrestling teammate, fraternity brother, and CMSU alum was diagnosed with MS a few years ago and a group of friends has reunited to help. The past year we have seen him push back the effects of MS in his words “without drugs but with a bike and friends”. We created a fund raiser that raised over $40,000 for the wrestling program and MS society, rode several trips on the Katy trail, and rekindled old friendships while even changing some people’s lives. I am climbing these mountains everyone thinks is hard but it is easy compared to the mountain Les and people with MS have to climb every day . Every time I start listening to the pain or the cold I think to myself how blessed I am to be able to do this and how people with MS will trade me spots any day. Follow this link to go to the fundraising page at https://www.fundraise.com/everest2016#donate