To Summit or Not To Summit…

Don’t worry friends and family, I’m not giving up! This is not the relinquishing of a positive mental attitude. But as the week progresses, I’ve found myself thinking more and more about why I’m really here. Is it to make the summit? Is that the only thing that would make this trip worthwhile?

And the answer is of course not.

For anyone who knows how “goal-oriented” I am, I bet you’re thinking “yeah, right. Of course she’d be disappointed if she didn’t make it.” And maybe, before I got here, I would have agreed with you. But being here changes you. Each moment I spend on the mountain, every additional step that I take, feels like a win. A big win. Every day is pushing my limits – physically, mentally and emotionally. And I’m still going.

The truth is, I am physically the weakest team member here – every step seems to take me that just bit longer! But I’m still taking steps forward each time. And if Nims decides to turn me around on summit day, I know I will have put everything I’ve got into the attempt. So, to summit or not to summit? Honestly, it doesn’t matter, I’m going to keep moving forward either way.

So – enough philosophising! – what have we been up to the past couple of days? We spent our first night on the mountain at camp one after a beautiful hike up. Thankfully Chris and I were able to share our own tent (since unfortunately we had to say goodbye to a team member owing to a knee injury) and we laid out our closed foam mats and thermarest for the first time. Since we’re camping on snow, the double mattress is a must! A tent-cooked meal of tuna spaghetti and it was off to bed when the sun went down – a sun baked tent is too hot but it’s amazing how quickly the temperature drops once it’s dark.

The morning was too windy to start walking as planned, so we got to stay snug in our sleeping bags as Nims handed out thickly spread pate & cheese sandwiches (all about the high calorie food up here!) and hot tea. Whenever the wind gusted by, it was like being passed by a fast-moving train – scary but also a bit exhilarating! Eventually though, it did clear up enough for us to start up to Camp two – Nido de Condores.

Although this isn’t that difficult a walk, I found it tough-going. Remember in a previous blog what I said about personal admin? Well for some reason I just hadn’t gotten anything right today. My socks kept slipping down inside my boots, making them rub uncomfortably. My buff felt suffocating, even though I knew it was protecting me from the sun. My backpack has broken shoulder straps – not a problem at sea level but up the mountain, I was struggling. But all that meant making it to the top felt awesome! And although I felt like the slowest walker in slowville, we made it in about 3 hours 15 mins (and the average time is 2-4 hours, so basically bang on). It was also a good reminder that on a more important day – like summit day – I have to be extra vigilant about how I prepare in the morning.

After eating lunch, burying gear and spending about two hours at camp two, we then basically “slid” down the mountain to base camp as quickly as possible.

It looks like the weather is clearing for the weekend, so now we’re ready for the push! But if I don’t make the summit guys, don’t be sad for me. I’ve already accomplished way more than I possibly thought I could.

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