It's official. The trip of a lifetime. I am heading to the big rock. The big roof. Everest Base Camp.
I'll be trekking April 16 - May 3. Leaving Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia on April 14 at 9:48pm and after 3 grueling flights over the next 36 hours going through Frankfort, Germany and Bangkok, Thailand, arriving in Katmandu, Nepal at 12:45pm on April 16. I will be trekking with the Mountain Madness crew out of Washington State. For those who read and know Scott Fischer's story "Into thin Air", this is his company.
The return is scheduled for leaving Katmandu on May 4, at 6pm and again traveling 36+ hours back (this time following the earths rotation and date line) through Bangkok, Thailand and London, England arriving May 4 at 1:30pm into Dulles.
I have realistic expectations. I have no illusions of climbing the big rock. Don't intend to climb the icefall or more. My goal (should I be lucky enough to succeed) is to be able to give a high five to any of the climbers preparing over the summer to try to summit. Ideally, I'll get to spend a night in base camp amongst the climbers and then head back down the next day. Oh, but to be there above the trees, amongst the clouds and to stare up at the tallest point on earth. It is a goal.
I have kayaked down some of the fiercest rivers in the world. Raced against the best in the world and quite unfortunately lost a lot of friends along the way. This is not nearly so adventurous as jumping out of a perfectly good plane as I did 10 years ago at age 40. At 40, I qualified for the Olympic Trials in Slalom Whitewater Kayaking. I am pretty sure it was my last hurrah. Continued competing for a few more years but I think I have left that behind me.
Last year, I ran my first half marathon. In case you didn't know, that is what the bumper sticker (13.1) is all about. Did it in under 2 hours. Not a bad time and certainly not bad for the first one. Placed in the top 25% of my age group.
But this is different. This is endurance of the human spirit. Pushing through and on. A mental and physical challenge. Over days and frankly weeks.
Depending on the group, half to 25% of those attempting the trek make it to base camp. Altitude sickness affects most people at some level on the trek, severity determines how far you get. I will not push on if my body betrays me and I succumb to the altitude. That can be fatal. One strike against me is that I live near sea level. No place like Colorado close by to do high altitude training. Nope, for me it will be a good bit of running for cardiovascular conditioning and some heavy pack hiking locally for ups and downs of the trail. Unfortunately, I'll have to do my most strenuous training during the winter which is usually wetter and may be colder.
The good news is that the altitude I have been able to get to in the last few years hasn't seemed like altitude at all. Grand Canyon, Leadville CO, Grand Tetons Park, all 7,500ft + of which I actually had MORE energy and felt lighter. From the reading I have done, this is sometimes seen in athletes that the altitude is an easy adaptation for the body to handle because you've trained yourself to be in oxygen debt and your body has developed compensatory systems to keep you level. We'll see. No guarantees and no promises. Only hopefully looking forward.