I will never forget the moment I was on top of the world. I was trekking around the Annapurna through the world’s largest pass – Thorung La. We rose in darkness and anticipation of our two-hour ascent up to the highest point of our Himalayan hike, the pass at Thorung La at an intimidating 17,769 feet (5,416 m).
We had spent a sleepless freezing cold night at Thorung Base Camp to acclimatize before our morning ascent. I remember being so utterly cold during the night in our barren, unheated room that I emptied every single item of dirty clothing out of my pack and slept in everything I had along with three wool blankets. Unfortunately I was still frozen to the bone and could hardly sleep that night due to the high altitude and apprehension about the next day.
Would I be ok? Would I get altitude sickness? Would I make it to the top? These were all the worries and concerns that were racing through my restless mind and keeping me up in the middle of the cold, dark night.
We rose at 3 am in silence and fatigue. The only light we had was coming from our headlamps as we slowly and silently placed each foot in front of the other as we crept up the hill. Inhale. Exhale. Stop. Inhale. Exhale. Stop. Breathing was getting hard.
I remember hearing the bells from the mule trains and the light of the moon leading our way up to the top of the world. I remember my slow and labored breath and the stillness around me.
After what seemed like forever, finally we reached the top. I have never felt so exuberant in my life. I did it! It was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment. A similar feeling I had when I crossed the finish line of my first and last marathon. An amazing testament of what our bodies can do if we only set our minds to it.
I still plan to someday be on top of the world again at the summit of Kilimanjaro. It is “on the list” and I can’t wait to be there.