The Waiting Is The Hardest Part – 5.19.2012

Contemplating Everest

Contemplating Everest

The length and duration of this expedition definitely wears you down.  Living in a tent at 17,400′ for weeks and weeks on end (and counting), eating the same types of food over and over and over again (Spam anyone?), crawling in your cold, solitary tent night after night around 7pm and passing countless hours as thoughts drift to home is mentally exhausting.  Missing friends, my beautiful girlfriend, family, good food, a warm, comfy bed, a toilet, a real shower, running water, soft drinks, beer, walking to the refrigerator and choosing something to drink or eat at will, warm weather, etc., all weigh considerably.

The hard part is simply sitting idle and waiting.  If we were climbing and moving closer to our objective then the time would certainly pass faster and easier.  Waiting around base camp is a much tougher endeavor.  Today, 100s of climbers are making their way to the summit in the short 5/19 window and finding success.  This is both reassuring and demoralizing.  We don’t know when our window will arrive and what it will hold in store for us if/when it finally materializes…

Much of what lies ahead is completely unknown.  How will my body perform above 24,000′?  Will my physiology hold up?  Will I have any strength left after deteriorating at altitude for the past 6+ weeks?  Can I stay healthy over this next week to even put myself in position and have the chance to go for the summit?  What will conditions be like up there when it’s our time?  Will the icefall hold-up through the “heat” of late May and allow us safe passage?  What the hell am I doing here?!?

All of these questions, doubts, concerns weigh equally if not more than the tug of home, and all of the additional days at base camp don’t help.  As I lay in bed each night and listen to the avalanches crash down off Nuptse and Pumori all around our base camp, I can’t help but wonder if one of those has my name on it in the days that are to come.  These moments of self-doubt and introspection are inevitable on an expedition this long, but certainly grow exponentially while sitting idle.  This is the mental test that is Everest.  Physically, it is as demanding a climb as there is, but mentally it wears you down in ways that other mountains and other expeditions typically do not.  At least not to the same degree.

I fully expect to be pushed physically as I never have before in the next week or so.  More than any other mountain I have climbed.  More than any other physical endeavor to which I’ve dared to subject myself.  Despite all of the health issues I’ve had to push through on this trip, the mental strain of the undertaking at hand, and the physical challenges that I am sure are ahead of me, I feel that I remain up to the challenge.  I can only hope that the next weather window provides us a reasonable opportunity, the conditions on the mountain remain stable enough to allow us safe passage and that my body and mind are equal to the challenge.  Wish me luck…  I’m going to need it.

14 thoughts on “The Waiting Is The Hardest Part – 5.19.2012

  1. I wish you & everyone else good luck, perfect weather, physical strength & especially mental strength!!! Can’t wait to read more of your journey & especially the final one that tells us how summiting Everest was. Corrie

  2. Jim – thanks for the posts! I’ve been keeping up with you the whole way. Wishing you good health and perfect conditions for your summit push. Hang in there!! LP

  3. Buck up, Jim!! You are ON your journey and had the fortitude and guts to follow your challenging dream with drive and determination. Best wishes for safe summit and return. I cannot wait to hear your story first hand back in Denver. Positive thoughts and follow your gut & heart. You have already accomplished and succeeded in our eyes, Tamara (& Isabelle)

  4. Invictus

    OUT of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

    JIm – Your head is bloody but unbowed. Thanks for sharing all that weighs on your mind and body in this post. I can only imagine the mental toll of waiting. We all love you here and wait for your safe return. Caroline

  5. “Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You’ve got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense”. (Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)
    I wish you all the best of luck on this last part of your journey. My heart is with you in Everest right now. Be strong, wise and please come back home soon. Love you!

  6. Hey Jim, you are THERE! All you’ve worked for will happen this week! Do not lose sight of the journey you’ve taken to get here. Feel empowered by the accumulation of mountains you’ve climbed, expeditions you’ve endured and training you’ve completed. Your doubts are just your minds idle play! Refocus and enjoy the amazing feat to come. Get excited and feel the motivation replace fears or negativity. I know you! You are a TRUE mountaineer who’s prepared for this mentally and physically for years! Woohoo! Here it is! I can hardley believe it! So excited for you. (and Bob too of course). You guys are like brothers to me! Chin up, spirits up and then get up! (that bad ass mountain). So many of your friends and family ALL behind you, cheering you on! Breathe and focus! Channel your vision to the well deserves summit! Godspeed and ENJOY! Love, Laurie

  7. You taught me to climb and always inspired me when I was tired and afraid. Enjoy the moment and bask in it. No matter what happens you are doing something so few people ever dare to even attempt. Everyone is proud of you no matter what – Marty

  8. Jim,
    You are strong and you are prudent…don’t give in to the false audience in your head. This is all you. I’ve got a cold beer waiting for you at Coohill’s…toasting to your character and will.


    Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.
    Ernest Shackleton

  9. Jim,

    Since we are talking about Tom Petty (your headline post name) I will respond with another one of his lines.

    I Won’t Back Down
    Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down

    Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around
    And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
    Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

    Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
    In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
    But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down

    By the way I see all of your pics on Markwell, Bergerg, Remez, & Moniz facebook pages. The goatee is looking good. I know you are tired of all the garlic soup, chips, & yak cheese but stay laser beam focused.

    Wish I was still there and our prayers are with you.



    • Thanks, bro. The goatee is more a function of shaving with cheap Nepali razors in cold Nepali water and I could endure pulling out only so many hairs. Heading up soon!

  10. Jim,
    Hang in there! We have all been eagely awaiting your posts here in Florida. I seriously cannot wait to read about the next and latest Everest update. We are living through your journey. Don’t lose sight of what you have dreamed of for so long! You have waited so long to get to this point and it is so close! People are so amazed when I tell them the stories of how my cousin is about to climb Mt.Everest that they are now following your posts. Your journey has been amazing and will continue to be even more so once you get to the summit! Go for it! Can’t wait to hear all about it! Be safe!
    Cousin Ann (and of course the rest of the Cash crew)

  11. Jim,
    The quote that inspired me to start a quote book:

    “The Power of One is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated. The mind is the athlete, the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter, kick better, swim harder, hit further, or box better.” ― Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

    Dig deep and you will prevail!!

  12. Pingback: The Waiting Game | Path to Everest

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