Friday, May 19, 2017

Cerveza por favor

Chris, as always, covered this quite eloquently. I don't need to add more about the logistics above C4 on Kangchanjuna. There are no profound revelations to be gleaned but strap in folks, I'm dining alone at a favorite little Tibetan spot in Kathmandu with a tall beer and waxing poetical. First, I have a favorite little Tibetan restaurant in Kathmandu. How cool is that? I've stood atop countless mountains in hundreds of ranges. After 5 trips to the Hymalian range, this was my first failure to attain the set goal, yet we still stood above 8000m and did something incredible. When it was clear we were given bad information about planning and shared resources, high from our perch on the last day of low winds my poorly oxygenated brain raced. We just made it this far from C2 in under 24 hours, sick, without sleep or much food; surely we can pull rope from below or find old rope in the rock section of the route. Then *ding*, this is how people get books written about them; benighted above 8000m. I'm currently on a team of the best and the brightest. They have rescued and recovered others and recounted the tails. I won't do what "Donny Don't" does. Turning around is a surprisingly simple calculus.

Climbing has let me share drinks and stories with some of the greatest adventurers of our time. It has forced lessons in situational awareness while traveling, medicine and physiology while caring for self and others, strength and humility, generosity and reciprocity, ego and death. We break language, economic, gender and social barriers; all without plumbing or even the basics on the hierarchy of needs at times. I won't pretend to have some great perspective on life but I can tell you a lot of the noise fades away when, in the cold, silent, vast, beauty of your surroundings can be summarized by grunt and a laugh. The thin line between safety and comfort is there to be pushed; by technology and mindfulness, by brute force of will and ego, by human fragility and creativity. And as much as this curmudgeon would love to stagnate in front of a screen for a good while; there are friends and family, technology and science conferences, pets and new projects (boy, do I want to build an electric skateboard for Burning Man), food and music to cherish. Then, when we've become too comfortable and start to lose the perspective this deprivation has wrought, the right people will assemble in the right place and time and we will collectively stare up at another hill and hatch a plan... Some will be selfish, some will have learned an expensive lesson, and some of us will just be in it for the stories to share at cocktail hour and the helicopter rides. I will be there with my toys, ready to learn, solve problems and climb until suffering and contentment become one and the same.

I appreciate the tireless efforts of friends at work that supported me with technology and time.
I appreciate the friends that inspire adventure and build their business and dreams on appreciating life under the big blue dome.
I appreciate all of the weird, wonderful and kind short messages sent to my sat beacon. Someday, you're all going to get published...

360° Photos at Camp 4 and about 8000m on the Southwest route (interactive Google Photos viewer)

Just hop over the crevasse (looking south at ridge that boarders Bengali India and Nepal)

Not all that glitters at 7200m...

View from a tent at 7300m, almost sunset (then setting out at 10:30pm for summit)

Finally looking down a Janu just after sunrise (with a few of the other big ones way in the distance)

I can see my tent from here... (8000m on Kanch looking down at C4)

"Nearly Dinner Time, come in and wash up", near C2 after summit push

Growing with every step... into a yeti.


Larry D Hayden said...

Written very well, heartfelt, and certainly a lesson for me. Well done.

Unknown said...

Living vicariously through your posts here in the concrete jungle. Thanks for sharing your life lived above the clouds.