We all know the feeling when we just exercised and take a deep, deep breath, filling our lungs with oxygen. I had read that altitude sickness was a possibility when attempting the summit, but I brushed it off as something only the old and weak succumb to. Arriving at the visitor center at on Monday morning, I had planned to obtain a permit to reach the summit in a single day. No, thank you. Unfortunately, as the young man behind the counter informs me, the park ceased distributing single-day permits in August.
Catalog Record: The Ascent to the Mount of Vision | HathiTrust Digital Library
This, this I can do. He also asks if I want to start the climb today. By this point I have approximately 20 minutes to change into appropriate climbing gear, pack my climbing bag, store my luggage, and acquire the appropriate supplies for my journey, namely water and 2 Snickers bars. The one awesome part about just showing up and climbing the same day is that I end up with my own personal guide, Lasius. Lasius is a pretty chill local guy with the physique of a hard-drinking line cook, whose last time climbing the mountain was…yesterday.
This is his job after all. The summit trail begins fromTimpohon Gate, shortly after which is a set of stairs and path that slopes downward before the real climb begins. This could be a long hike. What a guy! Like the overexcited gringo that I am, I push ahead at a steady pace, making sure to take the time to touch all of the moss growing on the sides of the rocks.
Lasius tells me that my pace is too fast for him, which momentarily gives me pause to wonder if I ended up with a chain-smoking backup, called in at the last moment on a special assignment to guide yours truly up the mountain. But I take this as an opportunity to put aside my machismo, and remember that slow and steady wins the race.
Apparently during the dry season the views are spectacular, but I decided to hike this peak in the middle of November, the month with the highest average rainfall and least hours of sunlight. Luckily, Lasius is prepared for such unprepared climbers as myself, and whips out a poncho which I can wear to cover both myself and my bag. Lucky me!
The ascent to the mount of vision - Folger Shakespeare Library - Digital Asset Platform
The perks of a guide to climber ratio. Lasius is not to be underestimated. Suddenly, I feel myself getting a bit weaker. Usually when engaging in a strenuous physical activity such as hiking, climbing, surfing, or the like, the first minutes are tough to get used to.
Your blood starts flowing, your heart starts pounding, and your body needs time to adjust.
But after minutes, you get in the groove. You adjust to the new norm, and you roll with it, that is, unless you keep pushing yourself hard enough that your body needs to get used to a new norm.
Yet this feeling I have is not physical exhaustion. Suddenly, it clicks- the altitude is getting to me. I've passed the 4. Hell, people talk about how hard it is to go jogging in Colorado all the time. So maybe, it occurs to me, this is a possibility. It's the highest I've ever been. Altitude sickness.
All I can remember about altitude sickness is to keep yourself hydrated, stay away from blood thinners, and take it slow and steady. One-foot, two-foot. These are my mantras as I slowly plod up the mountain, one foot at a time. I feel my body aching, top to bottom, inside and out, the onset of physical exhaustion near. Yet even though I write about it now, I did this for no one but myself.
And who cares whether I do it or not, in the end? Just me. I was doing this only for myself, because I love the feeling of standing on top of a mountain, saying I crushed that.
The final hour is an excruciating crawl until I see, in the distance, some sort of guest house. I ask Lasius if this is where we stop, and he says no, just a bit more to go.
The ascent of Mount Everest following laser in situ keratomileusis.
Just a bit more. Finally, like the gates of heaven opening up before us, I see the Laban Rate guesthouse. Lasius points me towards my room, but not before making me promise that I will meet him in the common area at the next morning for the summit trek. Thank you! Your submission has been received! Start your day in a beautiful way: Subscribe to Aleteia's daily newsletter here. Let's stay connected!
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