I did a fair bit of writing on the mountain, killing a little time and brain dumping whatever came to mind.
I wrote this piece in the afternoon of the second day at Base Camp once packing had been completed for our move up to high camp 1.
At the risk of it sounding like its all about the hardship, to a degree it is. Everything but the stunning scenery just felt and was tough. By this time I was starting to realise that any idea of what the expedition was going to be like was way off mark and the notion of it “just being a high altitude trek” settled into something of much greater magnitude.
Breathing made difficult, shortness, panting,
And tasks that require no effort suddenly do,
Difficulty sleeping, calm breathing then bursts of gasping,
Alarming, out of the blue, what the fuck, until they pass,
Diminished appetite, despite the massive calorie outlay, breathing, hiking,
Surviving in this hypoxic environment,
Weather, extreme in fluctuation,
Baking your skin then freezing it cold,
Or whipping it with wind and snow until lips crack and bleed,
Simple tasks made difficult, like bending over and pulling boots on,
Stony, rocky, hard ground, nothing but a thin cm of corrugated foam to keep you comfy,
But my god, you appreciate it,
Fresh water, a gift.
Higher up it will be hard to find, snow to be melted in even harsher conditions,
Perspective changing, it’s the simple things.
A metal cabinet with a toilet to sit on,
Suspended above a filthy, stinking cesspit of human excrement,
A true luxury, and I feel thankful.
You can keep your gold on this mountain, it means nothing,
A team of like minded people with which I share my days,
Each experience different, each goal the same – to summit,
And many don’t make it,
The throbbing, beating, sound of helicopter blades, air lifting people off the mountain to recover,
And I hope it’s not me,
It’s a harsh yet amazingly beautiful environment,
Condors fly high over massive, snowy peaks, dazzling blue skys so bright,
Air so clean yet so dry, so thin,
There is no future or past in this place, just now and whatever happens next,
This altitude life makes for thinking,
For evaluating and appreciating, the most important, simple things,
Loved ones left home, warmth, a bed and roof over your head,
And of hot flowing water,
This altitude life is amazing and I am totally immersed,
Every day a new challenge,
And onward and upwards we go into the unknown.