When all the training has been logged, when all the gear and food and equipment have been gathered, when you’ve said goodbye to your family and friends, get on the plane, travel for days through a foreign culture, you finally get to the mountain. There you unpack your gear, spend a few sleepless nights acclimatizing to 19,000ft, eat questionable food, and crap over a hole in the rocks with the wind blowing stinky, damp, nylon tent material against your face at a time when both hands are generally preoccupied with other tasks. It’s only then, after all that, that finally you are ready…ready to start the hard part: the actual climbing.
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Then, just as you gather all the mental, physical, and emotional strength you’ve reserved for your first day on the mountain, you suddenly feel a sting in the back of your throat, which progresses overnight into a full raw burn, then settles into your lungs until you wake up the third morning coughing up handfuls of what looks like chewed green peas.
It’s then that you realize that all your training, preparation, and intentions to do something really grand, have all come crashing to terra firma because of a brainless, infinitesimally small microorganism, with nasty intentions more willful and powerful than your own. The viral irony.
So, after descending from base camp and spending 4 nights at a remote enclave called Yanglekharka at 13,000ft, my big, strong, powerful and fully-in-control mind and body has finally whipped that microorganism into shape, expelling it, along with 10 pounds of body weight, back into the local ecosystem. Of course, by now I’m sure the same virus has already returned to base camp via some porter’s shoe, and will greet me- with tongue sticking out- at my un-triumphant return tomorrow, having reclaimed its home on stinky, damp, nylon tent material, awaiting high fiber meals and breezy days.
Mountain Lesson #1259: Control is illusory.
Proof: A tiny virus is stronger than you.