Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Failed Expedition... stopped by AMS

"I am nothing more than a single, narrow, gasping lung, floating over the mists and summits."

Reinhold Messner, 1978
First to solo Everest and summit without bottled oxygen

We returned to Kathmandu on May 26th without reaching Advanced Everest Base Camp. We were stopped by Acute Mountain Sickness and cold at Lobuche.

Some people are genetically predisposed to breathing problems up high. Altitude physiologists remain baffledd why some adjust easily and other not at all.

As it goes, most expeditions set up a simple, yet loafty goal; usually to summit some interesting peak and then plod off to see if they can get there. Most end in failure. So it wasn't suprising that like so many mountaineers before us, we also followed in the great tradition of failure in the big hills. In some ways, it was the perfect ending, because an adventure without calamity and set backs doesn't hold the same dramatic narrative. A failed attempt in the mountains usually prompts an exhausting account of what went wrong. In the work place, we used to call it a "post mortem".

So what did go wrong? Lots. But what went right was also an important lesson in humility. One that I picked up earlier in my climbing career, when I paid my dues on the cliffs. In the end, everyone is safe, uninjured and happy with their effort. Good judgement prevailed-- which is most important when you're toiling around on the rooftop of the world in the most formidable mountain range.

Details to be continued...


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