Wednesday, July 09, 2014

12500 feet

So everyone that knows Pradeep knows that he loves mountains, not just watching them but climbing them. P's take on climbing mountains is that challenging yourself on a mountain is always a true test of one's character,what would you do if you did not have all the comforts that we take for granted, what would you do when mother nature is at her best and at her wildest. He says you can find true friends and partners if you were to take them on a hike :-)

Moving to Seattle meant that I got to watch the hours of arduous prep that P would do every time he wanted to climb an alpine summit. The amount of detail and preparation that went into it were often irritating and tiresome to watch. So I decided to take the easier route out, I would go on hikes that required the minimum amount of preparation. I got to enjoy the views, stay fit and not have to worry about too much preparation.

That changed this year, now that I was going to hit the big 3 at the end of year I decided I should do something to mark this decade and what better way than to summit a mountain. Mt. Adams was chosen to be the one.

P offered to be my partner, porter and guide

After a couple of months of prep, we picked the July 4th weekend to attempt the summit. The plan was to start on Friday, see how I felt on Saturday and if I could not make it all the way back stay back on sunday. We started hiking at 5600 feet and till 8000 ft the hike was mostly un-eventful. At 8K we decided to set camp and that's when the fun started. Putting up a camp in 25 mile per hour winds is not easy. I thought of how our ancestors would have managed their lives when they were mostly at nature's mercy for their every day life. Once we set up the camp we got down to making some water - yup you heard it right, make water by digging snow, bringing it back and melting it. All was going good till the stove stopped working and P had to sit around in freezing weather to try and figure out how to get the stove working. After all attempts failed, we filled our bottles with snow and put them in the tent hoping they would melt. Not a very good idea as the water could have caused food poisoning. Tired as we were we slept off with the winds pushing our tents in all directions. Our plan was to get up at 2 am and decide the next steps.

At 2 am I peeked out of the tent and saw sparkling lights from the torches lighting up the path to the summit. Summit is on I told myself. P was not very convinced though, given the weather conditions he felt it might not be safe. By now I was determined to give it a try, lets dress up I told him and if we cannot go any further we will come back.

Miles to before I sleep 

We left behind all of our stuff and only with water, warm clothes and some food we started our climb to the summit. 9K - All is well. I am all pumped up, the summit looks so close, we can do this. 9K to 11K was a slope straight up with a 35 deg incline. The air started to get thinner, the legs started to get tired. Half way through P felt really tired, he started to have tingly sensations in his hand. Mountain sickness is setting in he told me. The uneducated climber that I am, I had no idea what to do. P kept his calm, sat down for some time and popped in a couple of ibuprofen tablets. He then said - I will make this happen for you, since you so wanted to do this. Test of character ?? Now that is what I am talking about !!

The amazing mountain views

We got to 11K and I started to feel a little sick in my stomach. Not here I told myself...I am so close. I popped in some GU (concentrated sugar tables with caffeine) . I will be fine I told myself and we started for the final 1000 ft to the summit. That is when the trouble started, my stomach went for a complete toss, till I realized the caffeine in the GU was reacting with my stomach. It was too late by then, we were 500 ft away from the summit and P thought it was not a good idea to go any further given my condition. Not now I told him. I just need to refocus and I will be fine, but it was tough. At that moment P came to my rescue, he started singing all of my favorite telugu songs at the top of his voice to try and divert me. With 45 miles per hour winds and low oxygen I am still not sure how he pulled it off. At that altitude he sure gave SPB a run for his money. 150 more, 70 more 20 more I just could not do it any more. I sat down closed my eyes and said you got it.....deep breath to rescue. We finally made it to the summit !!. It was a terrible day to be at the summit, no visibility, heavy winds it was impossible to see any further than 20 ft. I was feeling so sick I just wanted to go back down, this minute that I had waited for, now was becoming very tough to enjoy. P back to rescue....he started hugging me and shouting - thats when it struck me. I had done it !!!

All this work for a really bad summit photo :-(

Coming down was a breeze, thanks to the wonderful glissade chutes ( snow slides ). We came down 3000 ft in 30 mins :-).

We got back to the car, drove to a nearby lodge, took a warm shower and as I was getting ready to sleep, I told myself - Bring it on 30, it is only going to get better from here :-)


Preeti Shenoy said...

Love your blog akhila, I must say it brought tears and finally joy in my eyes when i read it. You are certainly "One of a kind".

chan said...

Insightful and lovely...way to go for your big 3 :)

Chaturvedula Kashyap said...

Nice. Keep it going Aks! More strength to you guys.

TreeBob said...

You are absolutely amazing Akhila. And what a couple. Am smiling broadly.

TreeBob said...

You are absolutely amazing Akhila. And what a couple. Am smiling broadly.