Mt. Everest Expedition: Sara’s Thoughts on Her Mt. Everest Experience
Yesterday I decided to end my quest to summit Mt Everest, and although I am still torn and wondering whether or not it was the right decision, I thought that I would try and explain to you why.
Dave Hahn always says that he wants to climb mountains with people who climb with their head. Now, I don’t always understand everything that Dave Hahn says (ha) and he says a lot of things (ha again), but what I think he means by this is that he wants team mates and climbers who think about the repercussions of their actions, who think about how they are physically feeling, and who don’t push themselves into dangerous situations.
Secondly, my dad ended his trip between Camps 2 and 3 (he says its closer to Camp 3, but whatever - ha). The end result is that after May 3rd he wasn’t climbing with me anymore. So, for the first time in all our adventures, I had to be climbing by myself. Its been a bummer. Why I climb is for fun, and to be with my dad. And over the past 3 weeks its turned from being a fun experience to really more of a chore. Dave and Linden are awesome guides and great people, but they are not my dad.
So, part of my job as a climber is to think (I know this sounds funny, but I know that a lot of climbers don’t think). I have to think about how I am feeling, how strong I am, how much energy I have, and how much I “want it.” As we started out our summit bid climb yesterday (the 17th), I was feeling physically strong, but I started to doubt that risking so very much was worth the summit to me.
I don’t expect others to understand why I lost my desire to go for the summit and to take the risks needed to do so. All I know is that you just can’t manufacture desire to do this. So, as we got to our first break through the Ice fall I told Dave and Linden about my thoughts, and we decided to re-assess and walk back down. What I also didn’t want to happen was to push myself to a very high point on the mountain, say 26,000 feet, have the winds blowing at 40 miles per hour, and me not wanting to go on. Then I would have not only have put our entire teams’ summit chances in jeopardy, but I would have also created a huge safety situation. People would have had to put their lives on the line to get me off the mountain, and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen.
After we got back to Basecamp yesterday, I knew I had to make a decision. The more I thought about it, the more the right decision became clear - but repercussions of that decision were so scary to me that it took me awhile to make it. I’m was (and am) afraid that people will be disappointed in me, that people will believe that I gave up without trying. As I sit here I struggle with the same thoughts, did I give it my best shot? Am I just giving up? The more I think about it though, the more I am reminded of the reason I love going on expeditions so much, and that is because I love to climb, not because I love to summit. The summit is the icing on the cake, but you can still have a great cake without icing. I’ve done some amazing climbing here, and I think the difficulty of the climbing and the way I’ve climbed safely and quickly on this mountain has been as good as anyone.
However, I still have a lot of regrets. The repercussions of my decision have made this last day a hard one. I feel horrible everything that has been “invested” in me over the last year to get me to this point and I will not summit. For a year I have been training, buying gear, ice climbing, backpacking and getting ready for a summit bid on Everest, and then when it comes along I have decided not to go. I know my teachers at school have made great sacrifices and invested a lot of time outside the classroom with me to allow me to go on this trip. I thank all the people who have been rooting me on, and sending me messages encouraging me on this climb.
But I also know that it is the right decision. I do have regrets about this, and I know in the coming months that I will have even more, but I just don’t think that I am willing to risk what you have to risk to try to summit this mountain. I also think that it is just too difficult for me to access those risks up high without my dad being there. And if I assess those risks incorrectly, the costs are just too much.
So, all I ask of you is to know that I tried my hardest and please don’t be disappointed in me for not reaching the summit. Sometimes its really not about the summit of the mountain, but what you’ve learned and experienced along the way.
Perhaps climbing a mountain isn’t really about the mountain at all.