One of the codes I live by is to try anything once… a new restaurant, a new winery, a new destination. After trying something new, a decision based on first hand experience can then be made whether it’s something to do again.
I once was an inexperienced trekker, a sea level dweller whose maximum hiking elevation was a mere 10,000 ft. When attempting trekking for the first time, I thought, what better place to do then in the Himalayas at the foot Mt. Everest? A quite aggressive idea and very easy to achieve while sitting in a San Francisco bar. For 4 months prior to departure I was nervously unsure about the unknown experience that awaited me, but I remained optimistic and excited about reaching my initial goal of Base Camp at 16,669 ft. Every workout session now had a more important purpose: getting me to Everest. I kept telling myself that these extra workouts weren’t as painful as not being fit on Everest.
On the journey my first, clear look upon “the beast”, the name I gave Everest, was near Rongbuk Monastery at 16,141 ft. My initial reaction was Oh My God! What a mountain. It’s so exciting. I can’t believe I’m here. I stand there looking upon it feeling so small in the scope of it all and then the realization of what I’m about to do hits me like a ton of yak turds. Am I insane? What makes me think I can make it to Advanced Base Camp at 20,800 ft? A challenge I agreed to with my travel partner, an avid mountaineer, before embarking on this oxygen-deprived mission.
Having successfully reached Base Camp, I became quietly apprehensive, but never afraid. I knew what still lie ahead. Could I do it? My female ego was determined to keep up with the guys at all costs. From Base Camp every step was challenging and my lungs wanted to bolt out of my chest. Am I enjoying this? No! It’s freakin’ hard. And I’m not even trying to climb up to 29,000 ft to reach the summit. I was constantly out of breath, thirsty, had very little in way of an appetite and my stomach muscles, not my legs, seemed to take the brunt of this trek. My body would not allow me to reach 21,300 ft, but the satisfaction of reaching 19,000 ft made it all worthwhile for I surpassed my original goal and pushed myself farther than I thought I was able to go. I was so proud. I accomplished something that was physically, mentally and spiritually rewarding. Tibet is known as “the roof of the world” and on this trek I tried something new and raised the roof of my personal world higher than I could have ever imagined.
Not experienced? Fear not. The reward of pushing yourself beyond what you think is possible becomes such a great reward, it can be said that it becomes a pillar for the human experience. Failure is only achieved in not attempting it at all.