Out of the Gym and into the Gem

That’s the Gem State I am talking about. Yup, training has successfully been relocated to Sun Valley, Idaho. Besides the amazing views, killer skiing, and world-famous potatoes, it has also proved to be an ante-upper for my workouts. Nearly 5,000 feet above my usual gym, it makes training all the more taxing. But with a week off of school, who am I to complain? Instead of five a.m., I am able to sleep nearly two hours longer and make it to the gym with plenty of time to work out and head to the ski mountain when it opens at nine.

But it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. With less than a month until blast-off, my nerves are kicking in. Big time. When I first climbed with Melissa this past summer in Washington, it was a sort of trial-run; could I manage big glacier climbing? It went unexpectedly well, with us topping off the week with a 20-hour speed ascent of Mt. Rainier. But now, that hardly comforts me. Does it mean anything? I wonder. It feels like so long ago, such a small endeavor compared to what I might face in Nepal. Was the way I performed just a fluke? How do we even know that I am a mountaineer at all? Laying in bed at night, these thoughts often spin through my head. All I can do is put my trust in the people that helped get me here, that have told me that even though I’m young, small, and from the city, nothing can stop me from accomplishing my dreams.
Now, sitting watching the steam rise of the deck of the hot-pool, the trip is starting to feel more real by the minute. We are all sitting here, Melissa, Ty, Syd, and I, relaxing after a long day of training. Syd and I have come to Stanley, Idaho, for our AIARE Avalanche 2 certifications, a course taught by Ty, while Melissa trains for her bigger spring adventures. By night, we all congregate in the small house in which we are staying. The way Melissa so casually refers to the trip, I wonder how she can be so nonchalant. This feels like the biggest undertaking of my life. Does she ever fear she will never come back to her family? I, although not often, do wonder this. The Himalaya is not a place to mess around. People get hurt. People die. But I quickly put this out of my mind. We aren’t risk takers. We are risk managers, as Melissa likes to say. I am going with partners whom I have complete trust in. This is living. We take risks. That is what makes the world what it is. So in three weeks, I will pack my duffel, take a breath, and step out into the void.

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