The morning light rose above the mountain and slowly warmed my tent. I had slept relatively well knowing that the next 36 hours were going to be grueling. We would have a short three hour hike to Barafu Camp at 14,930 feet (4,550 feet) – the normal setting off point for the summit attempt – and continue on to a higher, lesser known camp called Kosovo where we would sleep before a midnight rise to climb to the top.
It was another gorgeous day and the views of the summit were spectacular. After five days and nights on the mountain, it was hard to believe that the summit attempt was already so near. We were incredibly fortunate to have been blessed with such spectacular weather and were hoping that our climb up would be equally nice. The thought of climbing unprotected for hours in the dark scared me more than the actual climb. I knew that on some cases it could be bone-numbing cold with winds well below zero. Six or seven hours in that sounded painful.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was feeling great both physically and mentally. I was ready to do it and get to the top. To have worked so hard, I had to get there. Thankfully I had no signs at all of altitude sickness so it would merely be a mind game getting to the top. It was not only a test of physical but of mental strength. I learned that when I ran a marathon.
“Challenge is the pathway to engagement and progress in our lives. But not all challenges are created equal. Some challenges make us feel alive, engaged, connected, and fulfilled. Others simply overwhelm us. Knowing the difference as you set bigger and bolder challenges for yourself is critical to your sanity, success, and satisfaction”. – Brendon Burchard
In the past five days on the mountain I had become great friends with our team of climbers and support staff. What I love about doing a climb is that it is both personal and communal. We all have our own personal reasons for doing it and our own challenges to overcome. Yet as a team, the support and friendship of the group has its own impact and power on the experience too.
We reached Barafu Camp hungry and ready for a hot lunch. As one of the highest camps before the summit attempt, it was rocky and crowded. After being there for only a few minutes, I was relieved that we would continue on to the next camp up. My nerves were already racing and a little more peace and tranquility would do me well.
It was only a short hike to the next camp where we would rest, eat an early dinner and rise shortly after midnight for our climb up. It was hard to believe after all that dreaming that it was finally here.