April 7, 2019
Without fail, I woke up at 4 AM – the usual the last few days. I meditate a bit, I write, and then of course, try to stay in touch with everyone back home. The mornings seem to go quickly for me here in Nepal.
7 AM: I came downstairs for our scheduled breakfast. It was fairly quiet and empty in the dining hall – actually quite nice as I sipped my latte. Thirty minutes go by and I’m wondering where not only the boys are, but also my pancake. Eventually, Christopher, Rob, and the food shows up. Clearly, I need to sync my watch to theirs.
A young field medicine doctor from California/Colorado named Katrina came up to our table and introduced herself saying she knew my story. I asked her a handful of questions about what she thought I could expect from the climb, and she finished with wishing me well and reminding me that I have a special sort of fire within. Perfect way to start my morning and put a pep in my step.
830 AM: Finally on the trail. Maneuvering the steps of Namche didn’t phase me this time around, as it felt good to start putting a dent in our expedition. My mind and body were both set on cruise control. The smiles and words of encouragement from everyone we passed made me walk a bit taller. I’m proud to be out here. At breakfast, we had a discussion about the negativity that never fails to show up on social media. This morning’s favorite was, “She has no business out there, she will get someone hurt.” But being out here with supportive people who live in the mountains and carry the outdoors in their hearts, I am reassured that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.
Shortly after our start, two bubbly women came up to me. I had seen them down in Lukla and in a bakery in Namche, but never had the time to say hello. I was interested to hear that they were both Lebanese and nearly racing to be the first Lebanese woman to the top. Joyce is the taller one. Should all go according to plan, an Everest summit will complete her Seven Summits endeavor. Neldie is the shorter one, who is a ball of energy. I appreciate her enthusiasm for everything that goes on around her. She reminds me of my old climbing partner with her curly hair that bounces with her sweet dance moves.
Honestly, its quite refreshing to bump into women on the trail. While they say I inspire them, they inspire me. It’s nice to be surrounded by supportive ladies who build each other up, vice break one another down. Joyce gave me a turtle necklace, her signature trait. She says its the mountain turtle, slow and steady. Sounds like she may be cruising in 4 Low with me.
11 AM: The weather has been perfect. It’s overcast and sprinkling. Cold enough for everyone to be throwing on a couple layers, while I stayed in my t shirt. There’s been just enough moisture to keep the dust down on the trail. It’s night and day from when I was here last. This was the worst day for me on my last visit with the heat, and today I am blowing right through it. The terrain winds through the trees and there’s a ton of rocky steps up, and down.
The sight of the large suspension bridge doesn’t intimidate me, but the moment my stix and feet hit the wet, slick surface, it hit me. My balance clearly isn’t the best and the wind was blowing the bridge. Naturally, I can’t keep the bridge to myself so it bounced beneath me as others walked. I stared at my feet and am (luckily) able to drown out the 100 feet to the river beneath me.
Right across the bridge was our lunch spot. I laughed as I explained to the boys that the last time I stood in this exact spot, I was being kept at the check point in to Tengboche because the soldiers were convinced I couldn’t make the trek up the hill on one leg without being rescued. Needless to say, I am completely capable of the trek up.
12 PM: After lunch, we loaded up and headed to the check point. I snuck along as to avoid any more issues and then the team turned me loose. I felt good. That’s an understatement, I felt great. I was moving. I cherish these moments when I can get everything to cooperate and don’t feel like I am slowing any one down.
The paths were a bit muddy, but otherwise, just tons of switchbacks up to Tengboche. We played leap frog with the same teams all day. The time flew by. I was enjoying being on the move and apparently it showed.
215 PM: We made it in to Tengboche and were made aware that there were no rooms available at the lodges. Our rooms would now be down in the next village 30 minutes away. I didn’t complain because I was riding the wave of feeling so good, but I was dreading the slick rocks and mud to come. I would definitely miss the strawberry hot chocolate at the Tengboche lodge though.
250 PM: As we walked in to the Paradise Lodge in Deboche, we were greeted by the other team that would be climbing alongside us: Samir (base camp manager), Pete, Sam, and their friend Rupert who joined them for the trek in to base camp. Pete and Sam are the founders of For Rangers, a nonprofit out of Kenya whose mission is to support the wildlife rangers and their families. I enjoy their company because its like being with a few cackling hens; almost like watching an episode of “Two and a Half Men.” I’ll let them sort out who the half is. That ones for you, Sam 🙂
7 PM: Dinner time. And pretty close to my bed time. Sitting at the table, I again scan the team. I give them all grief for sure, and I can assure you that it’s fair play — but I do feel pretty lucky all things considered. Hopefully they never read this so they don’t see my soft side, but I’m pretty thankful I’m surrounded by such an amazing group of dudes who I now consider friends.
April 8, 2019
Today started off far differently than yesterday. Not a cloud in the sky and I got my first real views of the peaks since being in Nepal this time around. The mountains have always humbled me, but the Himalayas are something different. Everything in the Khumbu towers over you; their magnitude will silence you, while some of their jagged features give you a chill. We had a perfect view of Ama Dablam this morning – she’s terrifying and prominent. She stands out amongst the others and has always had a piece of my heart; I’ll be back to climb her one day too.
Though it was gorgeous out, my feet dragged beneath me. Someone who was apart of my team said to me, “Climbing everything else is before Everest for me.” I let it sting. I envisioned being surrounded by people being stoked to be apart of my project, to be in the Himalayas, and to get a chance at being on Everest. Here was the first taste of team dynamic.
My thoughts got to me and I shouldn’t have let them. I’d be lying if the reflection of the snow on the peaks were what caused my eyes to water. I started to wonder if I made the right call. Rob and Jeremiah (a friend of ours from Alaska who guides on Denali and just so happened to be out here with a different group) walked next to me now with cameras in tow. My prosthetic foot slipped on the slick sand and I took a knee, hard. Falls don’t put a hit on my pride any more — and I was actually thankful for this one. No sooner than I heard the “thud,” I pat myself on the back mentally. I’ve given
three people a shot to summit Everest, when they never have before. Three people who are out here in the peace of the Himalaya for two months when so many people only dream of ever having this opportunity.
My heart still hurt, but I shifted my mind to focus on all of the good that has and will come from this. The sun warmed my skin and the crisp breeze blew my hair in to my face as we made it in to the monastery at Pangboche. We were greeted by Sam, Pete, Samir, and Rupert. God, they’re some funny fuckers.
Sange brought us in to the monastery where the monk started his blessings over us for our good luck and health. I had no freaking clue what he was saying as I felt the sound of the drum in my chest. I kept my eyes closed, but shortly after, opened them to look around; a room full of people – some here for work or to make their money, others because they had to be, some for a passion of the mountains, others for philanthropic reasons, and more for their spiritual beliefs. Regardless, we were all still here for the same goal, just different motives. Then, I let out a deep sigh, one I was clearly holding in for a while.
Later, we also stopped in to be blessed by the lama. He was not super impressed with me on one leg as he continued to gesture to my leg in a language I can barely say hello in; I’m guessing it was because he was unsure of me climbing. He started his prayers and created our necklaces. It was my turn to kneel, and I hoped he was saying the same blessings over me that he was everyone else. I’ve never been very religious, but this was special to me.
The lama poured a yellow liquid in my hand, apparently blessed flower nectar. I sipped it out of my hand, only because I was told to. The liquid didn’t concern me — but drinking it out of my filthy paw was terrifying. There goes my gut health.
We got back on the trail and later stopped in Somare for lunch – supposedly half way to Dingboche. After eating, our starts are always slow. The trek seemed to last forever over the next 45 minutes. Several sweet people stopped to say hello and inquire about what exactly I was doing out there, when I decided I was over walking today. I changed up the pace. To Hell with the tortoise, I went for the hare. The pace felt good as I wasn’t panting yet, but I could hear the boys. My heart rate was up a bit and I was moving well. The village of Dingboche was getting closer and all I could think about was getting my leg off — pretty similar to the feeling of taking my bra off at the end of the day.
When we made it in to the Khumbu Resort, we had some hot drinks and sorted out rooms. I took the last room in the main building as I had no intentions on putting my leg back on and it was closest to the dining room. The boys were a short walk away. I was told dinner at 630, and it was only 4 so I decided on a nap. My alarm went off at 615, and I was at the table at 630 in a groggy state.
I’m going to start taking bets with those of you reading on when meals are actually served. Around 720, food started making its way to the tables and I was back in bed by 8. I was torn between continuing my book, “Buddha” or watching a show on Netflix about a little girl going missing. Naturally, the case of missing Madeleine McCann won — but I actually don’t recommend it at night. Or if you’re a parent. Or if you have one leg and can’t outrun a kidnapper.
April 9, 2019
A rest day in Dingboche. I’m sure my body needed it, but it’s hard to pass the time in these tiny villages. I wrote a ton, which I have learned to love at this point. Otherwise, it was a bunch of eating, staring off into space, and checking the clock countless times to see how many minutes had gone by. I wanted to interview some of the locals, but the village seemed to be a bit of a ghost town.
I need to take a page out of Robs book of zen so I can sit still; if not, my days are going to start feeling extremely long. The thought of ten days in base camp with no moving has been haunting me. I definitely didn’t bring enough activities for this shit.