Waiting Isn’t Always Easy

Posted: May 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’ve grown accustom to waiting in the tent for the weather to improve, it’s a part of every major mountain I climb.  This trip is no different, except this time the wait has the anticipation of months of planning and years of desire all wrapped up into these last few days, hours, and minutes of not knowing the final outcome. When the desire to achieve something great takes control of your life it isn’t always healthy and yet the growth I feel I attain from stripping myself from most creature comforts and pushing my body and mind to the maximum provides enlightenment that truly is a great achievement. In retrospect, somehow the lens of life looks differently and my values shift with a new focus, I somehow appreciate the simpler things in life. My family has greater importance, food, smells, my own home, the way my sheets feel lying next to my wife, everything takes on new meaning. These are the simple things that make me appreciate how good life is and yet here I am stripped of all those pleasures pushing to my limit.

Five days ago Jamie and I skied from 7400 meters near the top on the Lhotse face, each turn a mixed bag of elation and suffering. It’s been a dream for years to make turns down the Lhotse face, one of the largest continuous faces for skiing in the world, spanning nearly 2000m of skiing potential on one slope plus 500m tucked in the couloir leading to the summit. Without the atmospheric pressure present at lower elevations to force oxygen into my lungs I could only make ten turns before the lack of it would lay me on my side. Smiling and laughing at the exhaustion of skiing in such a preposterous place I couldn’t help but love the feeling. Each segment of the face linked by a first turn and followed by another, and then another, my legs were strong but eventually my lungs would provide the reality check pulling the emergency brake on the process. My brain fogged with emotion from the position.

We’re back in base camp waiting for the current storm to deposit all the snow it can muster into the Lhotse couloir. We can only hope it leaves us with a fresh canvas to carve our skis down. The conditions were good last week and we felt strong, we’re being very picky about how good we want the conditions to be before our summit push.  Those first turns of the trip were the kind you remember for a lifetime just because of where they were. At this point I could go home and be content, well maybe not completely content but I would be damn happy just to have made the turns we did from the lofty heights of the yellow band. Most never get the opportunity to ski from that altitude on such a beautiful face but for us it was a strong reminder that half of our total objective still hung above us. Skiing only the lower third of the Lhotse face from camp 3 would be fun and worthy of a shout out but instead we want more. We want our dream of being the first people to ski off the summit of this elusive mountain.

As I sit here and work on editing videos with Hennie or plan the last details with Jamie, I can’t help but think about all my dreams that haven’t come true. There are so many in my life that I’ve pushed for only to fall short. That’s not to say those dreams are bad or a failure, dreaming is what makes us human with desire to achieve beyond our day-to-day life.  Its’ rare to hear the stories of the trips that never work out, those that involve months of planning and suffering only to end up forgotten. I can only hope for a few great turns on a patch of snow that marks a note in the history books worthy of being passed on. That’s for you to decide.

In a few days we will climb back up the mountain in our last effort to dream the wildest dream and hopefully make those first tracks off the summit of Lhotse. While we’ve joined the short list of people that have made a descent of the Lhotse face the true prize is waiting to be attained. Wish us the best of luck!

  1. Mark Holbrook says:

    Good luck and have fun!

  2. Hettie says:

    Enjoy every moment, but be safe! Good luck guys!

  3. Heather says:

    Positive vibes coming your way!

  4. Baldwin says:

    Good Luck Guys. Thanks for posting. It is super fun to read about your adventure. Hope you get some faceshots!

  5. Clayton Oberquell says:

    I sure enjoy this blog! Best of luck as you ascend the peak. Here’s a shout out of Livingston, MT, where the summits aren’t as high as Lhotse but still are exhilarating climbs! I’m rooting for you guys!

  6. Lindsey McConnell-Soong says:

    For those of us praying for your safety and success, these photos and videos are precious gifts! Thank you! I am in constant awe and sending many positive thoughts your way. May the elements be in your favor!

  7. Andy Olavarria says:

    Hope that you all achieve the goals ahead. Sending good snow vibes. Rip it up.

  8. ryan says:

    Awesome and inspiring you two! Especially the self-awareness and appreciation of the moment. Be safe and good luck for the end to your trip.

  9. Jo Erickson says:

    Great video to keep us all on the adventure with you!

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