Regular readers may recall (if their short term memory is better than mine) that I climbed Kilimanjaro in 2013. If so you will recall that it was very tiring…. But four years is just about enough recovery time even for a 56 year old, especially if you’re not aiming so high.
Annapurna Base Camp (“A.B.C.”) is only a smidgeon over 14,000 ft., 6,000 ft. less than Kili. AND there are cafes on every corner (well every hump). And that’s a lot because unlike Kili the route to A.B.C is across several deep valleys; very steep sided valleys; valleys that make the rake of the London Underground look almost horizontal. In addition, in the Annapurna sanctuary, about three valleys in with two still to go, no animals are allowed, either for transport or nourishment. So nutrition is plant-based, which reduces your ability to replenish protein (although egg and chips helps) and so you have to rely on the legs that brought you there and hope they don’t go on strike.
Assuming that you can dodge the thunder storms you’ll be walking for five, six or seven hours a day and journey’s end is a breeze block hut with no heating and two squat toilets for 40 people. And your reward for reaching the summit isn’t a day off but the opportunity to walk down in one day the distance that you walked up in 2 ½ days.
I’m not asking you to reach for the hankies, nor even the violins, but I would ask you to ponder why anyone would stay in conditions that wouldn’t be acceptable to our prison population, and undergo an exercise regime that exceeds that of professional sportsmen and women who at least get a day off after match (summit) day?
I don’t expect glory, after all it’s not that high, nor any other plaudits – I’m able –bodied and reasonably fit (bit fitter than when I started). I’m just asking you to reflect on why we do these things (or not)? I had plenty of time before, during and after, to ponder this and I think it can be summed up in the phrase – “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I now know that I am still capable of this level of exertion and discomfort. And so do those around me. So when I need to go the extra mile, I now know that I have the resources/reserves to do that and those that require it of me have confidence that I will achieve what I set out to do. In growing a business you are frequently asked to bid for projects or create teams that no-one has done before. Knowing that you have met challenges which appear far sterner than this keeps the task in perspective. And tasks that don’t overwhelm us are more easily achieved than those that seem too high.
Just don’t ask me to go to Everest base Camp. Well not until I’ve had a rest, say 2021?