It’s 11:30pm or according to my watch 23:30. I’m beyond overwhelmed, a hold onto my mother’s necklace, I pray to her to help me, to calm me down, to let me know that I’ll be ok. A little sight that it’s working, I somehow feel a tiny more relax. I sit down. Look around me, it’s still dark, however, I can almost see everything. I take it all in.
What is really underneath? It’s not just about that we are going for five days, it’s about that this might be my final 5 days in life. The reality of what I’m about to embrace is not safe. It’s dangerous. People have died, avalanches have happened, as human’s, we are not meant to be that high at altitude – we are going to be pushing boundaries.
For the next 5 days, everything is completely out of our control. Yes, we’ll be guided by experience people, yes, we are =going to be tracking the weather; though there are multiple factors that can occur, and yes, I’m surrendering to them.
I sit down, I pray, I touch the fear, I touch the reality – what if these are my last 5 days. I have a blind comfort in me that this is my last rotation, that I have been able to make it to Camp 2 twice; actually I’ve made it to camp 3. So knowing that my body has gone that far, gives me a little more confidence; though crossing the Khumbu it’s always complicated. I tell myself, “Silvia, for now there is just what you know, take a deep breathe, and go step by step”. I calm myself down, I need to fall asleep! I do, only to be awaken by Lydia, “Silvia, get out”!
I get to the dining tent to have breakfast; the mood is semi-quiet. Bryan and Danny are the most chatty on the group; Mark and I are quiet in the back. I just want to go back to bed; what if we can leave in about 3 hrs, I tell myself? There is a small chance, that we could get a weather check, or word from people at the Khumbu that is not safe to cross. There is a small (ok maybe large) part of me, that is hoping this can be postponed for another day. But for now, pretend that we are going.
Hard boiled egg for me, a little juice, tea and lots of praying; I’m barely eating; though as the go time got closer for departure, my stomach freaked out and I was unable to make it to the bathroom. Oh well, then pray that I can hold it in.
12:45am! Time to go per Mike. Get everything ready. Water is packed, backpack is good and time to put the shoes and get crampons ready. It was a clear nite, but it felt cold. The whole staff had gathered to say goodbye to us, this is a big deal. We would be getting a special blessing before leaving for the mountain. Blessings? Of course, I’m always game for blessings, we can’t never get enough blessings. All goodwill (at least in my book) can make a difference.
As we saw all the staff lined up to say goodbye, I felt for the first time a sense that we were about to go onto doing something magnificent. It felts as we were going to go into battle; never in all my climbing experience had I felt a sense of this special send off. It was a very special acknowledgement. And just as we were getting ready to make our way through the altar and blessings, Dendi pops out. Our amazing chef Dendi was back! He had recovered from his horrible case of pneumonia and had hitched a ride back on helicopter until Namche and decided to make a fast ascent to us as it was important for him to say goodbye to us. I was really touched, appreciating his kind-hearted commitment to us. His sight gave me a little more strength everything would be ok, I also took that as a good sign of more blessings for us!
And so the walk towards the Khumbu started, Ang Dorjee leading the way and was in full chanting mode, which made me excited yet nervous seeing the seriousness of what we are going to achieve. I started pretending to recite the rosary which I don’t know well, but just pretending would maybe get me going. Full on blessing ceremony before departing. The whole kitchen staff out to say goodbye to us. We hugged this time a little tighter. I picked up a little more rice on my hand and as I threw it into the Altar, I could sense tears down my cheek. I looked up to the beautiful open sky, with a gorgeous moon on sight and asked my Mama Telle “Ayudame”.
And so we all started the beautiful glacier march. Deep big breaths, the clicking sounds or our shoes walking among the moving rocks, our ice axe’s touching on the metals from our harnesses. The flickering light of our headlamps, making a tiny bright spot amidst the darkness of this incredible bowl-alike setting, if someone from above would be filming, it would be just magnificent to capture this small bright dot slowly moving the incredible and imposing drop of these Himalayas mountains.
Walking among other camps, I saw light activity happening, some of the other camps were slowly awaking and a tiny ounce of me felt envious that I could be sleeping. “Just trust, stay awake, before you know it, you’ll be able to sleep!”, I told myself.
And then the so called entrance to the Khumbu ice fall. “Time to put the crampons on”, It’s showtime!
Treats of the Day! – Seeing Dendi, getting massive blessings and our chance to reach for the dream!