With only 200 feet to climb over boulders and rocks, my body gave up. My legs were sore from the eight days of constant hiking, my lungs tired from 12,000 feet of elevation gain, and my body exhausted from little sleep. I couldn’t go any further. And I couldn’t think of anything else to do but sit down and cry. Pure exhaustion took over and my body slumped high on the slopes of Kala Pattar.
Starting at 5 a.m. with headlamps on, my group (6 out of 8) set out from Gorak Shep to conquer this 5545m mountain. In temperatures barely breaking the teens, we stumbled up the non-technical Himalayan peak to challenge our bodies to new heights and catch sunrise over the world’s tallest mountain.
Coming as a shock to every inch of my body, the climb was slow and difficult. My frozen toes just managed to drag my hiking boots, which felt like they were filled with lead, in half steps along the trail’s many switchbacks. After two false summits, will and stubbornness were my only two driving engines.
As my guide and a few of my fellow hiking teammates rushed to my side from the summit, I noticed the beautiful scene of mountains draping the sky in all directions around me instead of just my feet for the first time through blurry eyes.
As the sun crested over Everest’s summit, I stood up on my uneasy legs and pushed to the top with the support of my friends. Not summitting was not an option.
And as the dynamic peak came to an end – wrapped in prayer flags – the panoramas unfolded even more. White, grey and majestic each mountain teased sky and climbers; daring both to go higher. But for me, I reached my hiking high.
Because with tears dried, all that was left was wonder.