Last year I learned how to rock climb (and also experienced real fear for one of the first times in my life).
I also learned how to ice climb while visiting Alaska.
Then finally, I completed my first summit attempt on Mt. Adams. Nothing too spectacular, just a little 12,281 ft climb of limited technical difficulty, but it gave me a nice taste of what the sport of mountaineering is all about.
I was on such a high after that climb that I started to get all sorts of delusional thoughts about becoming a bad-ass, mountain climbing chick and conquering summits all over the world. I came up with a plan: I would start training by gaining experience on the close by peaks of Mt. Hood,
and lastly Mt. Rainier.
Then I would go visit the fiance' up in Alaska and together we would tackle Denali (ignoring the fact that I am quite sure he has no interest in high-altitude climbing, but minor detail).
Hopefully we would even get to travel the world and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, and perhaps some other less challenging (and expensive) than Everest or K2, Himilayan Peaks. And maybe, eventually one day we would get to visit Everest.
But before I could even initiate phase 1 of the plan (conquer local Washington peaks) we got reassigned to Qatar. A country that is 100% flat, and sandy, and basically like a barren hell hole. But, alas, I am a dreamer and I still harbored the hope that I could accomplish the impossible. I started thinking, "Maybe I would try to climb some peaks in Europe and heck, Africa is even closer now, and so are Pakistan and Nepal!" My skiing trip to Austria this past March only fueled the fire as the future hubs and I spent an entire week admiring the glory of the Alps. So when I came home for vacation and spied the dusty "Into Thin Air" book sitting on the shelf in my old bedroom, I grabbed it and began reading with a renewed fervor.
AND THEN IT STRUCK ME.
I must have not "really" read this book when I was 13 or understood what I was reading at the time. Seriously, did I miss the whole part where basically everyone on the expedition died a horrible death alone and lost on the mountain or from illnesses related to altitude, or at a minimum was left disfigured from frostbite?? Because if anything, "Into Thin Air" will turn you off of climbing and make you clearly understand the repercussions of doing anything at high altitude. At about 24,000 ft your body starts to literally deteorate and eat itself just from the air and cold alone. Not to mention the million other physical danagers of unstable glacial ice, avalanches, storms, etc.
Um, WHAT WAS I THINKING!?!
Yeah, I no longer have any desire to climb the Himilayan Greats (although I still would be interested in hiking up to Base Camp at Everest) and my thrist for Denali has also been somewhat quenched. But I still have a bit of a lingering desire to climb some smaller, less dangerous summits and Mt. Kilimanjaro.
It is shocking just how much your perspective can change with age. Climbing Mt. Everest seems to be a whole lot of hassle and they say when you get to the top you are so tired and oxygen deprived that you cannot even really feel happiness or relief that you made it. Not worth it in my opinion. (Note: I am still very much intrigued by the subject (aka a sick fascination) of high altitude climbing and have since bought a few more books on the subject.) At any rate, the future hubs will be very excited that I just saved us over $130,000 (65K/person) by deciding that I do not want to climb Mt. Everest (yes, it costs THAT much just to try to climb it). Maybe I can buy some shoes and a Kindle with all the money I just saved us!