From a nine year-old in the library to an adult on a mountain
Dreams of becoming an explorer started early. I vividly remember being in the Rosebank library looking through National Geographic magazines for a school project. I came across an article on one of the earlier Himalayan expeditions and I remember thinking, “One day, I want to do that!” In 2007, that dream came true.
After two years of planning, training and preparation four of us landed on an extremely short runway at Lukla. It was an exciting start to the adventure. We took our time hiking to base camp, stopping in each village on the way up to Gokyo Lake and then over the Cho La Pass. In order to acclimatise we climbed Kala Pattar (5545m) twice.
From base camp we climbed the Khumbu Icefall a number of times, moving equipment a little higher up the mountain each time. We built up to spending a night at Camp 3, which was really cold and tough going. The next day we back down to the valley to recover and wait for a good weather window. When it arrived we climbed back up. Above Camp 3 and on our way up to the 8000m high Camp 4 on the South Col we went onto oxygen. Even getting snow to melt for water felt like a huge effort.
It’s amazing what altitude can do to you. I hadn’t eaten for several days when we set out to climb the summit at midnight. It was only when I watched the sunrise from the South Summit that I started to believe I might actually do this.
After all the preparations it was ironic that it was a tangle of old ropes left over from previous expeditions that helped me navigate the Hillary Step. And on 17 May at 8am I finally stood at the summit of the highest mountain in the world. The view of the Himalayas was awe inspiring.
On the way down it seemed as if the whole mountain was following us as avalanches kept dropping of the side walls near Camp 1 every few minutes. To say I was exhausted was an understatement. Despite that, I could almost imagine that if I turned around, somewhere over my shoulder I’d see that nine-year-old kid grinning at me.