Friday, January 2, 2015

Rest Day Update/ Randy's perspective on things...

Rest day today so they all can recover!  I just had a long talk with Randy.  Sorry if this is a lengthy post, but we covered a lot.  He shared his thoughts on how this experience is for Anders.

In Randy's words:

"Anders is truly a mountaineer; he eats this up.  It's in his heart.  He loves the environment, the experience, the team.  And everyone loves climbing with him because he's competent, strong, and enthusiastic.  He loves talking to the guides about their experiences, and they love him. They all joke around a lot. Even right now he is sitting in the guides' tent, just Anders and the 2 guides, yucking it up.  Every few minutes I hear the three of them burst out laughing; I can hear Anders' laugh across the camp, and I'm 70 yards away.  This is in his blood; he just loves it.  

The guides know he's strong. Yesterday, when Mike and I (Randy) left, there were still 5 climbers and only 1 guide.  They like to have a guide in front and one behind.  On the way down, they had Anders lead the group and Greg went last.  Anders did a really good job and it was tough -- white out conditions by the time they came back.  He had to very carefully try to find where people had been walking to trace their way back and avoid crevasses, and he led them safely back to Camp."

When I (the mom) hear this I have so many mixed feelings. For those of you that have read my previous blogs about their mountain climbs, we've been here before, haven't we?  Of course I am proud that he's so competent and strong, happy for what clearly is pure, unadulterated joy at doing something he loves so much, but worried for his current safety and especially where this might lead him.   Meaning of course, the big "E" word that I like to avoid....Everest.  I asked Randy if the guides (who each have summited Everest many times) have been talking to Anders about it, and he said a definitive, "YES!  A lot!  They know he wants to do it, they think he definitely can, and they are strongly encouraging him.  In fact, they want to go do it with him.  So do the other climbers.  They all want to have Anders on their team because he's really the perfect mountaineer to have with you in terms of competency and attitude."

So as we all process that from our various perspectives, here's a Randy update:

Randy is sore, but he said everyone is sore. They are all resting to try to move to High Camp tomorrow.  As early as the following day, they could try to make their summit attempt, depending on weather.  Randy's calf (more specifically his nagging peroneal tendonitis) is hurting, but he thinks that's to be expected, and today should help a lot.  He's making sure to get super hydrated, eat well, stretch a lot.  He's staying positive yet realistic. He was very objective and introspective about the whole experience and his prospects for summiting.  The best is for me to tell you in his words:

"I am not a mountaineer.  It's so different from doing an Ironman.  When I go to do those races, I know it will be 12 or even 14 hours of suffering, but I love it.  I am not overly nervous, just excited.  I'm not fast, but I'm confident and competent.  In mountaineering, I'm NOT in my element.  Yes it is unbelievably beautiful, you can't imagine how gorgeous, and I enjoy the challenge.  And it's amazing that I can even be part of this experience especially with Anders, but it's not in my blood.  Even though yesterday was only 4 or 5 hours, it was really hard for me, and I wasn't confident.  At times I wonder what the hell I'm doing up here. It's a real struggle mentally and physically. Anders came back yesterday and said, "That was so much harder than Denali, one of the hardest climbing days I've ever had. Wasn't it awesome Dad? Didn't you love it?"   He's just so much more into the whole mountain experience than I am.  One of our guides, Greg, lived out of his truck for 12 years just to afford to climb mountains.  Some people just have so much passion for this; Anders has that.   What I love is hiking in Shenandoah for 6 or 7 hours; I love when people come with me, and I even love hiking alone.  But this is really tough for me. 

Now that being said, I do think I can get to the top of the fixed rope tomorrow.  I know it will be a very hard 4 hours, but I think I can do it.  Then at the top, it's another 1.5 hour hike to Camp Two.  Once there, the real question will be, can I get up the next day and deal with a 9 - 12 hour summit day?  Can I do that?  That is what I don't know.  My ego is not tied up in summiting this mountain.  It's not like Aconcagua where I had to go back and summit.  I know I won't be standing on the top of the mountain with Anders anyway, because they will put him in the faster group.   I'd be in the slower group. Anders can't go with me; he'd get too cold waiting for me and it wouldn't be safe. The guides make those decisions for the best of the team. Of course, it would be amazing to summit and stand on the top, but I'm going to listen to the guides and  do what they tell me. I'll be honest with them about how I feel.  At this point, the guides think I can do this; they are telling me to definitely go for it. One thing I've learned is this: NOT KNOWING I CAN'T DO SOMETHING IS NOT A REASON NOT TO TRY IT. As long as I'm in my comfort zone safety-wise, which I am, I am going to go for it if I think there's a chance. If I get to Camp 2 and I can't go on summit day, I'll stay in my tent in my sleeping bag and wait for them to get back. I'll be completely fine with whatever happens. I'll make sure I leave enough in my tank so I can get to safety if I need to."   

So back to me (Judy) and what can I say except I am not surprised at all that he is going for it.  And I won't at all be surprised if he calls from High Camp and made it.   I'm reassured that he's being philosophical about it all and not all tied up in the outcome.  And I hope if he keeps saying that enough to himself and to me, he'll believe it!  : )

In other random news at the camp:

  • It snowed again last night. This might not sounds strange, but despite its thick ice, Antarctica is actually classified as a desert since it averages less than 8 inches of precipitation a year.  In fact, their very experienced guides had never seen it snow in Antarctica.  The combination of low clouds,  falling and swirling snow, and the relentless wind is causing some very cold, brutal, low visibility conditions.  The wind chill was over 50 below today.  This is important because although the plan is to go to Camp Two tomorrow, Mother Nature might delay this.  
  • Kind of cool side event:  A Russian team left Camp 2 today, even in these very harsh conditions, and was attempting to summit.  The group of 15 included the Chief Economic Advisor who a few days ago had a video conference from Base Camp with Putin.  The Rangers are worried about the safety of this group, so a few of them were sent today to High Camp in case the Russians get into trouble.  I'll update when I hear what happens with this intrepid team.
  • Last night it was FREEZING... The guys slept with 2 or 3 layers on bottom, 4 layers on top, in their '30 Below' rated sleeping bags. They pull their buffs over their noses and hats over their eyes.  They have full water bottles and empty "pee" bottles so they do not have to venture out of the tent at night.  Maybe TMI...
That's it for now...let's see what happens with our boys tomorrow.  Send positive thoughts and feel free to leave comments for them to read when they return!

1 comment:

Tony Anderson said...

Very cool. Thanks for sharing Judy. And, Go Team Christofferson!