Distance and gain- 1200m gain over 4km
Thought of the day- patience
Song of the day- Rudimental, feel the love
– movember and the NZ mental health foundation
– mum and dad
– Abdul-Khalim Elmezov, the climbing legend
It has felt like forever since I last woke up on a mountain, in fact it was this time last year when I woke up on Mt Kilimanjaro. There is something special about unzipping the tent with anticipation to get your first look at the day that the mountain decides to throw at you. The forecast may be for fine weather but it is not until you poke your head out till you really know. One of my favourite things in life is cooking porridge for breakfast knowing I am fuelling up for a big day of climbing. Everything about you is cold except the porridge burning your mouth as you impatiently eat it to quickly.
I double check my backpack to make sure I have the essentials for my climb: snickers x2, crackers, cashews, 2L water, spare down jacket, crampons, ice axe, poles, gps, camera, goggles, 1st aid, torch, whistle, spare thermal and sunscreen. I leave camp at 8am and begin my five hour climb. The weather was absolutely perfect and is the type of day you pray for when going for the summit but I was not yet acclimitized so must be patient and not push myself to high. I put my head down for a solid two hours and slowly climbed up to 4,400m without to much drama. I finally stopped for a refuel and took the time to take in the breathtaking scenery away from power lines and base camp litter. Finally I felt like I was really on a mountain and that I was actually climbing. I must have though I was on Mt Kosciusko because I actually said “bro check that view out” thinking Ryan was next to me but I remembered I was alone. Climbing alone has it’s pros and cons; you get to set your own pace, you do not have to worry that your decision will affect anyone else, it’s your call to turn back and you feel more in tune with the mountain. Although it can get lonely and boring, you also have no one to share moments with and no one to motivate you when your feeling flat.
Today I was the only person I noticed climbing solo which is pretty choice but also a little daunting. At least I knew that with this many people around on my summit climb at least there will be a trail of headlights to follow and I can just match a similar level climbers ascent pace if I need to.
I push on and get up to 4,600m when I notice the terrain get really steep and the dozen or so black dots in front of me barely moving. With only 400m to go I was feeling really exhausted at this stage and with no clear feature or point to aim for just an altitude reading it was hard to find the motivation to climb this pitch. I had been going for four hours now and my head was starting to ache from the altitude plus I knew it would take me an hour to climb the last few hundred meters. This is mountaineering though and if I descend without making my goal it will make my summit day that much more difficult. I turn my boots sideways and edge my way upward like a goat on the banks of the Whanganui river and convince myself not to look up until I get to some rocks at 4,800m. After a million years (35 minutes) I finally reach the rocks and stop for some water and a couple of selfies. Only 200m to go until I could stop going up and laugh at everybody who was below me. 200m at altitude when you are tired is the equivalent of just arriving to work at 9am on a Monday (maybe a tad dramatic) but inch by inch I continue on and finally reach my goal for the day. Strangely enough I did not laugh at anyone just lay on my back getting sunburned (sorry mum) and breathing in the fresh mountain air through my headache.
It was now descent time and with the afternoon sun the snow was nice and soft so I would be able to glacade most of the way. This is when you slide down the mountain on your bum using your ice axe and feet as breaks. Even though this is ridiculously fun I could not help but wish I magically had my snowboard. After five hours of climbing up I reached my tent after only 25 minutes.
It was now time to have a good rest as the last two days have been pretty epic with a total gain of 2,800m and I needed to make sure I was 100% for my summit climb.
It was really hard to turn away 600m from the summit on a blue sky day but I know for sure that I would not have made it and blown my chance. As always I need to constantly remind myself that I have time to be patient.
“He that can have patience, will have what he will” Benjamin Franklin