Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day 5: The final camp and attempt at ascent

We are in the home stretch. Kaity, Amy, Tom and I walked about 3 hours and 45 minutes to base camp five, arriving around 2:30 in the afternoon. Of course we had to have our traditional dance party when we arrived. I laid down in the tent for a brief rest, but was awoken for lunch at 3:30. Then it was back to sleep. Next thing I know, Amy is shaking me awake and saying it was time for dinner. I looked at my watch and was in denial. It was 5:30 p.m. I said no, it cannot be dinner. We just had lunch! It was really hard for me to force anything down, but I did my best. Still weary, I climbed back into my tent and was asleep instantly. 

I was woken up at 11 p.m. to get ready to begin the final leg of the journey: the 1,200 meter climb to the summit. We had some biscuits and tea or hot cocoa, then it was time to climb. Our camelbacks froze within one hour of hiking. Luckily, I had a water bottle with electrolytes that did not freeze. The dining times really began to wear on me. After about three hours, I had ABSOLUTELY NO energy. Kaity was a rock for me. She literally pushed me for about 20 minutes. “I will push you to the top if I have to,” she told me. But after a while, I was feeling totally fatigued.

Signing the log book at camp
I had to seriously consider heading back to camp, even though I really wanted to summit. I had to be completely honest with myself. I knew that if I continued on, at some point, whether it was 5, 10, 15 minutes or an hour, my energy would completely wear out and I would collapse. And at that altitude, I would develop hypothermia and freeze to death. There would be no porters with stretchers during this last stretch. 

Lucas agreed to guide me back to camp. Thank goodness for that because we had passed the “steep” part of the climb and were in the middle of the “steeper” climb. I would have totally tumbled down the mountain without him holding my hand. It was about an hour and a half back to camp. When I finally got there around 5 a.m., I had just enough energy to climb into the tent and eat the other half of Amy’s Cliff bar before climbing into my sleeping bag and passing out.

Even though I did not make it to the top, I am dissapointed. I made it to 5,000 meters, or 16,404 feet, and I did not have a lick of altitude sickness. My muscles were sore, sure, but doable, it was purely the exhaustion that got me. I know now that I am capable of reaching the top, and you better believe that I will be back one day.

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