The day is finally here. Yup, I leave for Nepal at 4 am tomorrow. As we shove last-minute items into our duffels and debate the best high-altitude snacks, it is finally starting to feel real. All the 5 a.m wake-ups, sore limbs and dragging feet, all the fear, the joy, the ambition, the drive; it comes down to this. In a few days I will be surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the world, and only a couple days after that I will be attempting to summit one of them.
My room is stacked knee deep in gear. Crampons, Ice Axe, 3 different down coats, carabiners, harness, passport, everything. I am allowed one 70 pound bag but even that feels like a stretch. My ultra-warm, zero degree sleeping bag is probably the biggest space hog, next to my huge mountaineering boots. The only plus side of packing is probably that I am getting more time to spend fawning over all the new gear. Like most climbers, I love equipment. Shiny carabiners and coils of rope speak to me more than the newest video game or basketball shoes. It is fair to say that I might be in heaven. Although we originally thought we would have to get my clothes custom-tailored due to my diminutive stature, it turns out size XS Petite fit the bill. Yes, XS petite. *Sigh*
I think a family of butterflies may have taken up permanent residence in my stomach. I am trying so hard to tell myself to not have expectations, to take the pressure off of myself because it is my first time doing something this big. But it’s hard, because so much of what makes me who I am is that drive go further, do better. But this is where I can learn. In the Himalaya, there is no fooling around. When you feel like you should turn around, you do. No questions asked. This expedition is about the experience, not the tangible rewards.
So when I pack my last bag, and bid farewell to family and friends, there is only one thing I must say: “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”