Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day 4: Danger on the mountain

Yeah, I feel really guilty today. After breakfast, Amy, Karen and I had a little pow wow in the breakfast tent. We were able to clear the air and share our feelings and everything that happened. Of course I had to cry again. But in the end, Karen forgave me and said it is all in the past. I apologized to Kaity as well, as what I said the previous day hurt her as well. As I said I was sorry and hugged her, she said she wished I was her sister. I told her I felt like I was, and she said we would have to get a picture together at the top of the mountain. I cannot describe what, but something kind of came over me, and all of a sudden what I wanted did not really matter so much anymore, and it truly became more about the team and supporting each other. 

I also apologized to Rafael, our lead guide, for any disrespect he or his team may have taken as a result of what I said. Everyone is such a better person than I am, they forgive so easily and freely. I really need to work on that. I do hold so much in, and hold on to pain for a long time.

Kaity Klemp and Amy Martin stop for a Xango break during our climb
Anyway, today’s climb involved a lot of rock climbing. Like probably two straight hours of rock climbing. I was in my element. It totally took me back to college and climbing at Wallcrawlers in Whitewater. Words cannot describe how much I loved it, even this one part where you had to grab onto this rock and step on a ledge, with nothing behind you but open air. Absolutely no fear. I was so comfortable on that mountain, I knew I would not fall. I told Karen about 3 points: always have at least three points of contact when climbing. That is what Leo told me when we climbed at Devil’s Lake for the first time, and it served all of us well. I never took a step until I had tested it twice for grip and solidarity. That is probably why I had such an easy time, I was totally used to everything. 
However, Kaity was a total monkey on the climb. At one point we looked around and wondered where she had gone. Then we realized that she had climbed way ahead. We were all really impressed with the ease and speed she had on the rocks.

Of course after we reached the peak (not the summit), it was time to go back down! Yeah....I am not so good with the going down. I tend to slip on the rocks. I had the same problem yesterday and Lucas held my hand while I went down a slope. Today Justin held my hand as we slowly made our way down. My guess is it took at least 40 minutes to descend. Climbing did not get my pulse racing, but the descent sure did!
Justin and I at the bottom. Whew!

Then as soon as we got to the bottom, it was time to climb up again to reach our fourth base camp. I wish I could say that the fear I felt going down the mountain was the worst of it, but all of that seemed oh so far away and pale in comparison when we arrived at camp.

Today was not easy for one of our members, Drew. A couple hours in he started coughing up liquid, one of the symptoms of altitude sickness. By the end of the day, he needed two guides, one on each side, to get him on the mountain. His O2 levels were deathly low, and he needed oxygen. At the same time, the guides and porters were putting a stretcher together. They borrowed another oxygen tank from another group and went straight down to the gate in 7 hours. Karen made the decision to go down with him, which was a relief, knowing that she was with him. By the time they got down, he was up and walking. It was the most scared I have ever been, and I am really grateful he is OK. 

I know how close he came to not making it down that mountain, and that things could have turned out very differently. Up until this point, it was a jovial and happy climb up the mountain. I think Drew's illness really hit home that what we are doing is not only challenging, but dangerous, and we have to be careful as we continue on our journey. 

This was such a long day. Here is hoping tomorrow will be less eventful.

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