It may not have looked like that much of a long journey to the top, but to my posse and me, it was. The prepping, paperwork, shots, traveling, hiking, waiting, and everything else in between, it was. However it’s all about to change as it’s summit day! I’ll try to make this short and sweet, even though it’s gonna be about a full 22 hour day, including the decent all the way down the mountain.
Up until now, I felt incredible. All the other day climbs were cool and besides some normal headaches from the change in altitude, it was all good. For some reason or another, I didn’t feel exactly the same tonight. Besides the lack of sleep from the past few days, I knew my system was a little off. My stomach was churning, the back of my head was pounding and we haven’t even started to summit. You can tell the mood of the group started to also adjust from a joking and playful attitude to more serious and a bit nervous tone. All geared up in winter attire, we start the summit from Barafu camp which is at 15,100 ft and get moving around 11pm. Previous hikes commenced in the morning at much lower altitudes so this was different. The scene started off funky as we were just trying to find each other in the dark
During the first few days of the climb, we were talking, joking, blasting music and doing what you typically do when you’re with homies. The mood now is a complete juxtaposition from the previous with almost complete silence with the exception of hearing the person in front of you slowly gasping for air. I was in a dream state of being conscious, as you get extremely fatigued by the smallest things such as looking behind you or trying to get something out of your pocket. I’ve finally come to realization that it has little to do with how healthy or fit you are, but how your own body reacts to the altitude. And unfortunately for me, my body starts to change for the worst. My stomach adjusts from churning to sharp pains as I have to hobble to the side and get rid of anything in my system. As I reach for the baby wipes, I find out them frozen, in addition to my water. After the first set of diarrhea, I immediately start to throw everything up from the day before. I think I set a record of how much you can puke + shit at the same time. It was classic Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), but since this happened to me when I did Mt. Whitney, I knew this was different as it also affected my legs, arms, chest and mind. I started hallucinating and my hearing and eyesight was impaired in a manner I couldn’t really understand what was going on. All I knew that it started to get brighter as the sun was coming up. I mustered up the strength to have the porter take a photo of me
Although my body was shot and I had nothing in me, I knew that that I couldn’t stop now. I was close to the top and with the help of my friend Lou and my porter they gradually gave me small bits of frozen slush water enough that I couldn’t throw it up. Step by step with large deep gasps for air, I finally made it to the top. Check it
Immediately after this photo was taken, the lead guide, Charles ordered me to be taken down the mountain. All I remember was that I started to get agitated and confused on why he was having me go down earlier than everyone else. I recall my friends started to tell me that it was a good idea to listen to Charles and gave me silly reasons why. (keep in mind that I was half awake, hearing and seeing things and talking gibberish). So my porter propped me up and we started the 4,000 ft decent back to Barafu camp. As we drifted down the pebbled mountain, my body and mind also adjusted for the better. It was amazing how it all changed. When I finally made it down to Barafu camp and everyone else followed, I soon realized that it was a good thing that Charles made the call as he hinted that it was leading to Cerebral Edema (HACE) which would definitely rain on my party