I told people I would not even make a decision about returning until August. I think a fair number of people expected me to announce a decision August 1st, and annouce I would return. Well, I'm not going to because I have not decided anything.
This is not an easy decision to make. 16 people died in one minute, not because of their skills, but because a serac collapsed and they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Yes, I still want to know if I have what it takes to climb to 29,000 feet without oxygen bottles, but after seeing others who have been without supplemental oxygen at nearly that altitude, and my own running and climbing exploits at altitude, I think I could walk to 30,000 feet.
Given the Sherpa strike and other experiences, part of me never wants to return to Nepal. To be honest, compared to Rwanda, Pakistan, Costa Rica, and most places I have traveled, Nepal was one of the least friendly places I have been. Most fun and exotic places to travel there are so few tourists that the locals have a pleasure helping the foreigners. In Pekanbaru, Indonesia a teenager walked around with me for over an hour just to show me around and help translate. In Rwanda a man I met the night before volunteered to go on a five mile run around his village with me the next morning, and we had a good run. In Pakistan our high altitude porter invited us into his house for a meal as we were leaving Baltistan. In Nepal, no one ever invited me into their house. They have had so many tourists that to them I am just another dollar sign.
My friend put it this way when discussing Nepal and the Everest region, "in a rural place a store ower is just happy you stopped at his shop. In the Solokumbu they wonder how much money they can get from you."
Yet I still have the question whether I can walk to the highest point in the world in my head. I also have friends there, and Asian Trekking was tremendously accomodating. I would have no reservations going on an expedition with Asian Trekking again, except to hope the other clients had high altitude and technical climbing experience.
Honestly, I might not make a decision until December. Physically I want to run another marathon. A 2:30:20 marathon PR is painful because it is less than one second per mile away from being a 2:2X marathoner. Mentally, I feel like I have already climbed Everest. Financially, I don't want to blow all of my money and I am really enjoying paying off my debt.
Honestly, I have been trying hard not to think of Everest and Nepal and I am doing a decent job of that. I am certainly not quitting mountaineering, there are five mountains in Pakistan I am interested in attempting, not to mention plenty of little routes in the USA I have not tried.
What does my future hold? I don't know. Regardless, I would like to get out to Colorado, or maybe even Washington, over New Year's for some technical mountaineering if anyone wants to join.