Everest April 20-22, 2019

April 20, 2019
Day 18:

Jesus. It’s cold. First time I’ve had a real chill the entire trip. I woke up to my hair being caught in my sleeping bag velcro and white frost covering me. I sleep with my forehead and eyes out of the bag and no sooner than I opened my eyes, I wanted to close them as the cold air seemed to trace my veins. I fought everything in my bag (prosthetic leg, puffy pants, batteries, IPad, water bottles, and so on) to muster up the strength to get out of my tent and into breakfast.

My days slowly seem to melt together; it feels like we are going through the motions just to make the days pass. It feels good to be out here and disconnected from the real world though. While I still stress about work and home life, its nice to be able to focus on me and staying present.

Being that I am juggling a thousand things (one day I will be strong enough to ask for help and bring on an assistant of sorts) even way out here, I have been pulling my hair out wondering how I will get sponsor shots, photos, and videos uploaded so that someone can keep everyone updated while I am out of comms and up in the high camps — just a couple more days! The WiFi at base camp is trash so Rob, Christopher, and I decided to take a stroll down valley to Gorakshep; just a couple hours walk one way. Guess I can’t really give the other team grief about stressing the WiFi anymore.

I have been slightly on edge as I don’t talk to many people. I internalize a lot of things as to not bother any one else. Let’s face it, the only people I really talk to are my mother and a couple of close friends. Stretching my legs again was much needed as I was going stir crazy the moment we stepped foot in base camp. Now, I had a taste of playing around in the ice fall and was hungry to just be active in some way. Moving about relieved a lot of stress and the time away from camp gave me an opportunity to vent and run my mouth — I say I am solving the worlds problems. Rob and I decided that I am somewhere between Buddha and Robin Hood.

Once in Gorakshep, we stopped in the lodge where we stayed before and ordered some hot drinks. The manager of the lodge actually wrote me a rap for the documentary — on our next visit we are going to film it so that we can share it. Surprisingly, the dining area wasn’t overrun by trekkers and I was able to get photos uploaded to Dropbox and my latest blog live. It really is a relief to get these things done — allows me the time to focus on the major task at hand. The next couple of days will be full of me just trying to stay ahead in order to keep the companies and individuals in support roles included and involved.

The reactions I got from people in to and out of Gorakshep were both heartfelt and hilarious. We passed some people twice on the trail, adding to their confusion. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. It becomes really difficult to give up on yourself when there are so many people cheering for you; especially when the vast majority of these people are strangers. The trek back to base camp was easy; guess the acclimatization process is working.

Now that the entire climbing team from HST Adventures is here, the conversations end up all over the place. With the exception of just a couple, everyone is a veteran. The dinner table talk is quite hilarious with a wide range of crude topics. It reminds me of being in the Marine Corps and I wouldn’t change anything about this group of guys.

April 21, 2019
Day 19: Easter Sunday

Well, it doesn’t really feel like a holiday; not that I have ever celebrated much. Since it is Sunday, I decided it would be a washing day. I took a real hot shower. By real, I mean I stood in a tent with a bucket over me. The locals replaced our rice bag shower floor with green plastic astroturf. Admittedly, it felt good under my foot. I felt like a new woman: clean hair, clean body, and all new clothes.

I also did laundry, the old school way. Hot bucket of water with soap. Rinse and repeat. I stared off into the abyss while the laundry detergent dried my hands out as I scrubbed everything from bras to pants. There were a few trekkers obnoxiously dressed in tutus and I couldn’t help but laugh as they snapped selfies in front of my toilet tent (bright blue, with my lovely artwork of a wheelchair that reads, “Crips only”). I guess I could have warned them, but they also aren’t supposed to be over here.

I cleaned out my tent again which really just consists of me moving things from one spot to another, but at least it killed some time until lunch. I used a small brush to attempt to get the gravel and sand out. In my frustration and impatience, I attempted to send the dirt piles over the lip of tent which resulted in all of the pieces being catapulted back into my face and all around my gear.

You could say it was productive.

I was chatting today with my dad via my InReach. Being able to send a quick message home definitely helps morale when you are bored or just having a shit day. He asked how things were and if I was missing modern day amenities yet. I am absolutely, 100% missing things like a vacuum and a washing machine. How pathetic, but they sure do make life easier. The blue skies and warm sun faded in to the usual afternoon grey clouds and light snow which was my cue for a nap.

Meals and sleeping are the easiest ways to pass the time when there isn’t much to do. Luckily, I have gotten used to the routine by now. Maybe tomorrow will be more exciting.

April 22, 2019
Day 20:

In the beginning of the expedition, my mornings started super early around 4 AM. Then they faded in to starting around 7 AM. Now, I am strangely back to being awake around 130 AM, and for good around 6 AM. My neck was screaming. I had fought with the contents of my sleeping bag and sliding off of my inflatable mat all night. I laid in my down parka inside of my crammed bag and listened to everyone slowly start to wake up.

I decided to start with a guided meditation. I lasted four minutes before I heard the boys in the dining tent, so instead, I threw my headphones back in for my audiobook and cocooned myself for another thirty minutes. I stared at my tent door watching the steam from my breath dissipate while my finger tips throbbed from the cold. 8 AM is usually the time to start moving around as the heat of the sun gets trapped in my tent.

I shifted my body a bit and caught a glimpse of a collapsible Nalgene and just shook my head. This really is the least glamorous hobby, career, passion, whatever you want to call it that I could ever pick. If you haven’t gathered it yet, its cold here at base camp. When my leg comes off, it stays off. Any winter camper, has a trusty pee bottle in their tent so they can avoid going out in the cold to use the “facilities.” Mine gets used more than most because there is no freaking way that I am going to put my leg on to hop outside and find a place to squat. If you asked 18 year old me if I thought I would be peeing in bottles a decade down the road, I’d probably start running the other direction.

I let out a sigh and decided it was time to go harass the rest of the team over instant coffee and oatmeal. Later, the boys all went out to play on the ice while I stayed back. I enjoyed the alone time, but ended up chatting with Greg from IMG again — I really do appreciate his willingness to help my team (and me) as much as possible. His wheels are always turning and he is always up to something.

It was a fairly slow day in the end. We had a couple of visitors — Mrika and her father, who I have mentioned before on my arrival to Namche — I really am moved by their goal of Mrika becoming the youngest woman to ever complete the Seven Summits, but even more so their bond. I’ve never been one to think of kids or of being a parent, but I have to admit seeing them made me wonder if I will find someone to one day have a family with so that I can have that relationship with kids of my own.

Yikes. Wishful thinking. I’ll have another dose of birth control now.

7 replies
  1. JW
    JW says:

    Ah the dreaded dirt tent flap-apult. Between that and the perpetual line of residual dirt left by a dust pan, if you’re lucky enough to have one, makes the cleaning process of a tent seem futile at best 🙂

    I am enjoying following along on your journey. Slacking off at work while reading through Everest dispatches and blogs is my favorite part of the day; and your blog is my favorite to read…but don’t tell that to the other strangers who don’t know who I am.

    I wish you nothing but the best, and then some! Keep kicking ass and being all inspiring and stuff. Your spirit and perseverance are steadily making the world a better place!

    Reply
  2. Tony LaBell USN Ret.
    Tony LaBell USN Ret. says:

    I am really enjoying your updates. keep them coming when you can. You are a huge inspiration to a lot of people. Keep the faith Devil Dog!

    Reply
  3. jeff Bolita
    jeff Bolita says:

    The comm your doing is great to read and patience is a virtue……..I believe your doing great and great things to come as well…….keep it up

    Reply

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