Such a remote thought..it seems to be on my mind recently. Random images of me trapped in an avalanche, with hardly a mouthful of breathing space… I wonder how fast will my breath expire in that small confined area; that is if I manage to create a cavity between myself and the thick layer of snow…
Suffocating..a slow and painful one or one that is quick and painless… I wouldn’t know..
People died while pursuing this sport known as mountaineering.. just the week before, Joanne smsed us that there were 3 climbers who perished in Muztag Ata (the 7500m peak that we had climbed last year). It did not seem to be a very dangerous mountain and I still remembered trudging alone on the way to summit path. No sherpa or team mates were beside me..they were ahead of me, keeping an eye on me from a distance. Good weather had given us good successes.
It was a so matter-of-fact team discussion on what will the team do if one of us had fallen..to bring the body down or to leave it up there. I had thought of staying up there because it would simply take up too much energy to bring the body down and then someone reminded me that the body is another form of litter on the mountain…so it was better to be brought down.. So, I think that I will sign on the body disposal form to bring my body down..
These morbid thoughts somehow occupied my mind for the past few weeks. So much so, that I ordered the DVD ‘Living and Dying on Everest’ from Amazon to understand the people who did not survive the climb. How do you know when you have reached the point of no return? Unfortunately, the DVD did not give me an answer.
Even as I pondered over this for weeks, I know that my immediate family and close friends are worried about me too. When I first told my family that I had applied to join the Singapore Women’s Everest Team 2008 back in 2004, my mum looked visibly worried. She remarked that every dinner that I had with my family could well be the last one that I spent with them..morbid thoughts..casual yet serious…that’s my mum.
Much as I feel that everyone has to leave sometime, somewhere and somehow and that most probably, my passing on will not change the order of day, the sun will still rise and set, the waves will still keep moving..I am still accountable to the people around me..to do my part and shower them with my love and attention as long as I am still around.
Why then do I still climb the mountain? I embarked on this journey to find a purpose larger than my existence. To rise above the mental and physical challenges that it posed. Interestingly, the challenges that I had to face were not found on the mountain only. It was a process when I learnt more about myself on how I would respond when confronted with fears, anxieties, difficulties, disappointments, self doubt or even doubt by others.
This awareness of oneself brought about choices, choices to change or stay the way I was..change was painful yet it also paved the way for growth..
To understand a bit more why some choose to be there; view from Everest summit: