Sunday, November 27, 2011

Climb that Mountain!

I know I've written at some point about my infamous "Shasta Disasta" of 2003. This was the trip planned by my sister and I after the holidays and involved climbing Mt. Shasta. The fact that Shasta is only a few hundred feet shorter than the highest mountain in California, Mt. Whitney, didn't faze us. I can still remember where I was sitting when she called - in the old brown lounger in our living room on R-11.

My memories of the trip are sensory. It was hot and muggy inside the tent, where Mike, Sue, and I attempted to sleep. It was close and somewhat stinky. It was still light out at 9:30pm. I had eaten too much French Onion soup and would pay for it with severe stomach cramping that forced me to use the "solar outhouse" which was technically unavailable on that particular day of the month. I didn't sleep, which did not bode well when we were roused at 1:30 am to eat breakfast and hit the trail. I remember the clomping of boots and a queasiness that warned me not to do this - but I did it anyway. At some point before a place euphemistically called 'Lake Helen' (there is no lake) I began throwing up and could not stop.

Sensory memories include the long, cold descent with Susan, who gave up her ascent
to take me back down the mountain with the guide who drew the short straw; the tent, a change of clothing, an attempt to sleep - and constant nausea.

None of the group summited that day. The weather and avalanche conditions prevented it. Nonetheless, I was disappointed - very disappointed.

Over the years, I shoved down those feelings and claimed I would never, ever do that again and that it was OKAY, really - it was. But of course, deep down, I knew that it wasn't okay.

There were three factors that contributed to my disappointment that day. First, I was not in the right shape. I was in decent shape, but certainly not as fit as I needed to be for that kind of hiking and carrying a pack. Second, we were not acclimated to the altitude. We arrived in Shasta only the day before and should have hit town at least 2-3 days before the attempted ascent. Third, my inability to sleep the night before caused dehydration and a lack of calories that sent my body into full-on rebellion. We told each other that we needed 3 days, not 2 days, to make this climb. The fact that Shasta Mountain Guides only offered a 2-day was a good excuse not to re-book anytime soon.

Today, I made the decision to book another climb. Shasta Mountain Guides now offers a 3 day expedition instead of an hellacious 2 day ascent. This means better sleep and more acclimation. This means more odds of success.

The trip I want is in June - after school ends. I have a full seven months to get into the kick-ass shape I need to achieve. Training for this trip will help me get off the last of my weight gain. I have been holding steady at 150 pounds for a couple months now - I am ready to proceed.

Knowing that I can be impulsive, I am waiting until next weekend (at least) to book the trip with Shasta Mountain Guides. I am hoping that I will have companions for this adventure.

I am just - hoping. And I dream of success, this time around.