Posts Tagged 'altitude'

Altitude

Yesterday we ventured into the icefalls.  Our goal was to get to the first set of ladders, about an hour and a half of climbing through a labyrinth of ice, water and rock.  Wow did I have memories of last year.   I couldn’t believe that I was back so soon and all the pain and suffering came sweeping back.  It was a hard day for me.  Not certain if it is because I am not yet acclimatized or if I once again have become a tent potato, but yesterday nearly killed me.  I couldn’t catch my breath, find my rhythm, get into the groove… whatever it was it was eluding me.  I crawled back to my tent totally deflated and ready to pack it in.

It snowed last night.  Everest base camp is coated in white, and the rough rocks and jagged edges of this inhospitable world are softened.  The sun is out and the day is warm.  Seth and I are heading out for a hike to stretch the legs and get the lungs working.  I am hopeful for a better day than yesterday.  Guess I should look on the positive side, as Rob reminds me, I did achieve my goal and made it to the ladders, crossed many and returned shortly after the group.  To me it was a miserable experience.  Still this is Everest and misery is part of the territory now what am I going to do about it?

Time to dig in right?  Keep reminding me of that.

Wendy

Oh yes… Climb On!

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Namaste

I woke up this morning feeling homesick and melancholy, but I’m trying to practice the Buddhist philosophy and enjoy where I am at in this moment.

I’ve been really frustrated at the inability to use the satellite phone and send emails.  Connections are always poor and it’s really difficult to get anything to work properly.  I am having a funny experience today while visiting the Internet cafe.  There are ‘dzo’ everywhere (an animal that is a yak/cow hybrid), and as I am writing this blog a dzo is sticking it’s head through the window and watching all the activity inside.

We are staying another 24 hours here to allow our bodies time to adjust to the higher altitude and thinner air.  Just walking to the Internet cafe today was exhausting.  We are being attended to by an incredible team of Sherpa: Dawa (lead Sherpa and head cook) and Dawa Tenzig (high altitude Sherpa who never leaves our side).  As I sit in my tent in the evening I can hear them playing a card game with noises like I’ve never heard before – shouting and slapping.  Dawa prepares us rice, potatoes, daldaut and something called momo (like dumplings).  Everything is prepared without electricity and running water.  We are so grateful for them.  Next we are going about 5 hours north and we will be visiting the Teng Boche monastery which is the right hand monastery to the Dalai Lama.

We are still in Namche Bazaar, a vertical village at 11,500 feet in altitude perched precariously on the side of the Himalayas. The entire world passes from village to village on winding dirt roads.  As we have traveled from Lukla over the past 2 days the terrain has grown far more vertical and we are now just above the timber line.  It is dry and dusty and very primitive.  Heat is from yak dung burned in stoves.  The people are wonderful smiling, happy, courageous and go out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable.  This is the Sherpa’s region and an amazing place to all of us!

When I first saw Everest I just stood and stared for what felt like ten minutes. I noticed my legs were shaking.  I pummeled JJ with questions.  I memorized the names of the mountains surrounding her, all of which I had heard before, Llhoste, Nupste (excuse my spelling on all of these as I don’t have my English map with me), Ama Dablam, there they all were.  But it was Goddess Mother of Earth that spoke the loudest.  She is magnificent and beuatiful.  The ski is crystal clear, and the summit clouds spin off to the south since the jet stream is postioned right over her just now.  Climbers will wait on the mountain’s lower flanks until the jet stream moves 100 miles away and then make their attempt at the summit before the monsoon season begins.  It’s all about waiting.  And for me I will wait another year – and for that I am grateful.  Just being here and climbing the 17,600 feet to base camp is providing me with much needed mental preparation.

All along our journey we have experienced the flutter of prayer flags.  Just before we climb Barunste we will have our own prayer ceremony called a Punja (again excuse my spelling) and the prayer flags are already packed amoungst our gear.  It is a very special ceremony I am anxious to see and experience.  I am a guest of the Sherpa, but I feel so blessed to be with them and I know I couldn’t be in more capable hands.

Climb On!


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.