In Between a Rock and a Gear Place 

Happy Daylight Savings Time,

My apologies to Saskatchewanians and Arizonans for the exclusive greeting but you are probably used to it at this time of year! I’m bathed in the low angled light of dusk and a thick blanket of fatigue. Sitting, finally, after a big day on the hill, a leaded heaviness creeps in on the tiny tickly feet of kittens and spreads a gentle warmth to my cheeks. Supported by our marvelous “Tire Walla”, Marian, Michelle and I completed our second to last tire pull of the training campaign. This “4.5” tire pull followed closely on the heels of Thursday’s four pull so we’re feeling righteously celebratory having heaved ourselves and our tires, four thousand feet of elevation gain in the span of a few days.

Of course, the true culmination of this “rubber meets the road” training program hits its apex this Saturday, March 20 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm or so. Again, you are invited to drop by Signal Hill for an ascent or two, a honking drive-by, or otherwise supportive gesture-we’d love to have you out sharing the hill with the Everest Base Camp Trekkers and Tire Pullers.

It’s been a weekend of ten thousand decisions or at least it feels like that many. I began the process of synthesizing the items collected in various boxes in the “packing room” formerly known as the “training room” and before that, radically, the “parlour”, into two bins labeled “Can go direct to basecamp” and “Needed for Trek.” As items got put into Ziplocs, stuff sacks, etc. the decisions mounted, “Should I take six extra triple A batteries? How about double A’s? Which belay device will I use? Which carabiners get to make the grade? Three pairs of socks or four?” It’s amazing to see how many decisions remain after I thought I’d made so many previously. I utilize the gear lists of three different outfitters to make sure I don’t overlook anything or take too much. The temptation is always to throw it in when in reality, “Less is more.”

As those of you who’ve followed me around on many an adventure, this is the toughest time for me. My biggest trip anxieties always rise to the surface during this phase of pre-trip preparation. A core thinking pattern likes to rear it’s nasty head saying something like “If you only pick the right gear/food/clothing then everything will be perfect and if you don’t, watch out!” I’ve seen it enough to recognize it and label it and do my best to denature it but I’m sure Marian has seen a new side of me as I ask her to come “listen to me think aloud” as I decide between the four pairs of potential goggles I have for the trip and as I decide none of them are dark enough so I madly surf around looking for other options. Once I’ve made all the decisions and the trip is underway, I relax considerably and know that I can make it all work. Funny how my mind and emotions seem when I expose them to the light of day.

I remember when I was heading off to climb Denali and we were riding the park bus 100 miles into the north side of the park and my anxiety and fear were so strong I was almost choking on them and then as soon as I stepped off the bus and it steamed away, a gracious calm of finally being in the moment descended and stayed put for the entire expedition. I’m hoping for the same for Everest. This time where I am extricating from my regular life while putting life here into hibernation while at the same time, looking forward to a time of great excitement and challenge makes even more challenge than usual to stay in the moment. That’s why hours of staring at asphalt this morning were so right, so meditative and so perfect to be doing. I need the physical outlet to balance out the high vibration of my current bardo between here and there.

There is only one column of doors left to open on the Everest Advent Calendar, seven hockey games (giving up hockey to climb is one of the hardest things I do), five pulls up Signal Hill, and two large duffels to pack…it’s going to be a rich poignant week of more decisions and good-byes. It’s been a quite the ride over the past three years of deciding to try again, training again, fundraising again, and now the time is near…the time to go enjoy the expedition.

To have fun. To make great connections with my teammates. To respect the mountain. To breathe deeply and feed both my lungs and my spirit. To be be buried by doubt and fear and to dig out from under those emotions over and over again. To share the experience with all who are receptive. To climb smart and to make good risk management decisions. To climb higher and come down again, over and over again. To risk. To cry. To push. To laugh. Likely all in the same day. To accept the invitation and to offer myself deeply to what is unfolding. This is what I am aiming for…

Eight days and counting,

TA

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