Now that summer’s coming to an end and I won’t be playing softball every weekend, my thoughts have turned again to travel in order to give me something to look forward to. And somehow, before I knew what had happened, I found I’d booked myself on a 2-week trip to Everest Base Camp over Christmas and New Year. It’s a trip I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and having tackled Kili this year, I needed a new challenge. It’s not quite as high or as demanding as Kili, but still pretty tough, and altitude will certainly be a concern. A few people have asked me if I think it’s wise to attempt it, given the issues I had on summit night on Kili. I must admit, my initial reaction to such a question was to punch the person in the face. Don’t worry, none of them were my close friends – they would certainly know better than to ask such a question (or at least, to phrase it a little more delicately, along the lines of “So will your experiences on Kili with altitude lead you to do anything differently this time?” or “How different will the altitude and its effects be to what you experienced on Kili?”.
You might wonder why the “is it a good idea?” question angered me so much. Admittedly, it’s probably not a normal reaction. But the answer is simple. I’m not a person who gives up at the first obstacle, and it upsets and angers me to think that anyone might think I am such a person. I am, however, aware of my own limitations. So to put a few minds at rest:
- Yes, I have thought this through very carefully. I thought about pretty much nothing else for weeks after I got back from Kili.
- EBC (Everest Base Camp) is not as high as Kili. The highest I’ll go on the trip is the same height I reached on Kili.
- There were a number of reasons why I didn’t make it right to the top on Kili. Largely to do with the fact that we were summiting a very steep and difficult route, in the dark. And because my eyes both haemorrhaged, this made it incredibly challenging, without even considering the altitude.
- The ascents on the EBC will not be done at night, so I’ll be at a huge advantage both mentally and physically.
- Altitude can affect you differently every time. I could probably go back and summit Kili with no problems this time. But I’m not going to just yet (maybe one day).
- A one-off failure does not mean I’m going to give up, it means I’m going to experiment to see if altitude really is a barrier, or it was a one-time failure.
- The fact that my eyes haemorrhaged on Kili was not detrimental to my long-term health. That comment probably angered me the most, because (a) it came from a person who knew nothing about it and (b) because they must be totally stupid to think I would not consider that possibility. Of course, I did all the research before I went. Cause and effect are very different things: getting hit on the head and a brain tumour both give you a headache, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get a brain tumour if you get hit on the head.
So this is where I’ll be going:And since I already have all the gear I need, all I have to focus on is getting as fit as I can. What a shame, that means going out into the hills over the winter with friends for some practice walks. Life is hard.