Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Expedition Philosophy and Drinking Game

Success on a big mountain, in my limited experience, comes down in large part to showing up in great shape and then being
obsessive about staying healthy and hydrated. On top of that there is also some genetic factor, but since you can't control your genes you have to play the cards you are dealt.

I woke up Tuesday with a small headache, despite drinking half a liter of water after I went to bed, and being hydrated when I went to bed. My first cup of coffee in two weeks quickly made me feel like superman again and I have a feeling a lot of my headache woes the last two weeks have been due to caffine withdraw rather than the altitude. Regardless, every day I play a drinking game with myself. It is very simple:
- If I drink 5 liters (of water, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, tang, etc.) I win
- If I drink 4 liters it is a draw
- If I drink 3 liters I lose

The picture above is the helicopter this morning taking two of our members down to Kathmandu. One was a trekker, who will not be returning and one is a climber with a minor issue that will be returning. I won't go into more detail than that except to say they will both be 100% in two days according to my estimation, so minor issues. Yet, the seriousness of taking a helicopter ride out of BC is not lost on me.
So I eat and drink and drink some more. I feel that things like a cough, headache, tiredness often have more to do with dehydration than the altitude. The problem is that life is hard up here. It was 8F in my tent when I woke up this morning, probably colder outside. The air is very cold and with the cold comes low humidity and thus every breath is dehydrating. A minor issue on a two hour winter long run is devastating when my resting heart rate is 80 (unacclimated) and jumps to 110 walking 30 meters to the dining tent.

I am very thankful to have the references and mentors that I have learned from. I have no cough, after a cup of coffee I have no headache, as we said in Boy Scouts I am clear and copious. "Strong" would be the wrong word to describe me, but I am certainly not weak at the moment. 

It looks like tax day is going to be a beautiful sunny day here! Yesterday was the Nepali new year and it looks to be a good one. Rumor has it there are 299 western climbers on the south side this year and 16% women. Our expedition has 25% women on the permit. Climbing Sherpas, I don't know, maybe 500? 

If you are going to do something, do it all the way. If you are going to run the steeplechase, win the thing! If drinking an extra four cups of tea and "hot lemon" (it's like instant hot lemonade) every day is the difference between success even though I am not thirsty, that is an insignificant sacrifice to make. I am so blessed that not giving my all is a failure. It's a process, like anything, if you do all you can and you still fail on paper, well then you know how not to succeed. The next time you will do better after learning from the experience. Have fun! Enjoy the spring weather not on Mt. Everest!

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