Seven Summits

How did it go? Mount Rainier Emmons route training seminar

“How did it go?”

This was the question I got asked over and over again, and I can’t blame my co-workers and family and friends.

“My training session was ok.” That is my short answer.

However, I learned quite a bit. I learned for example that I can totally sleep in a tent, on a snowy and icy surface and on a regular dirt ground surface. I can share a tent with two other women. I am aware that this would not stand out as the most important learning experience to the average person, however for someone as myself whom had never camped before, it was a great discovery to realize I can do this.

I also learned that even though I have enjoyed in the past other “women only camps” and learning environments, I did not enjoy this one as much.

Perhaps in the past I was only there to have fun, with other members of my gender, such as surfing in Costa Rica and Mexico.

Or perhaps I felt an unfairness of having someone’s backpack lighten, to make their climb easier, when I was carrying more than half of my own body weight.

Perhaps I was too anxious to learn and at the same time not hurt my recently broken ribs.

Whatever the reason, I was disappointed by my lack of enthusiasm … the lack of excitement I expected to feel training with a large group of women … where was the ‘women power’ that I expected to feel?

When I ran, I ran alone. The months I spent training I have trained alone. Having to accommodate the pace of getting ready to go, when others were incredibly slow and continue our journey and climb, at various different paces, was tiring and un-motivating for me.

I also felt a lack of trust with my fellow participants. I have always been a self-reliant person and trust with me needs to be earned. To be roped, connected, with complete strangers caused me some anxiety.

On a more positive note, I did learn that my boots were great and appropriate. My feet were always warm and I have no blisters, which I cannot say the same for some of my fellow group members. I learned that I can be warm and keep warm and valued the lectures of our trained guides. I learned to walk with crampons and to tighten them on properly.

I learned to use my ice axe! 🙂

I learned that what had occupied much of my previous anxiety at home, going to the bathroom – is actually a walk in the park. (A) if you need to pee, simply pull your pants down and (B), if number two is required, then you follow whatever protocols of the mountain you are climbing.

So, despite feeling and finding many shortcomings during this seminar, I was able to marvel at the beauty of one of many Gods creations – Mountains! Wow—the majesty!

And, another treasured memory, was listening to the silence and admiring the unobstructed views that extended for miles. Absolutely amazing …

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What can hinder a skills preparation climbing session? Qu’est ce qui peut vous empêcher de suivre une formation d’escalade de préparation?

(Le français suit)

Many things I suppose, but certainly slipping in the bathtub while taking a shower in your hotel room, and slamming your right side of your ribcage against the bathtub can be a problem.

Yup, especially if during impact you feel the air sucked out of your lungs. I can tell you that this is not a good thing!

That is what happened to me this past weekend. Results = 3 broken ribs.

Saturday morning finding it hard to breath from previously falling while taking a shower in my hotel room, I went to the front desk and I was able to get a bottle of Advil. I knew I had to be on-site for training at 8:45am and I took two Advils, then shortly after another two…. But the intense pain was still a little distracting.

I entered the address that had been provided to me for the location of the training incomplete on my car’s navigation system – which then led me to the opposite direction of where I had to be.

I was then about 30 minutes late for the first day of training with my fellow climbers for the Carstensz Pyramid summit. Not good.

I then mentioned to our guide when he came to get me at the parking lot that I had hurt my ribs taking a shower. I know he could not believe how dumb I was, even if he did not say it, and he sternly reminded me I needed to be careful now, especially so close to our trip.

I agreed and then the paramedic in him looked at my ribs, but I assured him it was really nothing, they were just bruised probably and I already had taken some Advil. I would be fine. I was fine I assured him. So he took my word for it – and in all fairness, I believed whole heartily myself that I was fine.

I am a confident and a strong person and he would have no reason to doubt me. We had a whole day of training ahead of us.

I was trying to feel my confident normal self, while every breath I was taking was hurting on the right side. So I took another Advil. I am at five now, in the span of a couple of hours.

We went out to rock climb and left our backpacks at the bottom of one of the rock faces. I had fun at moments, I learned the best I could and I even challenged myself while blocking sharp pain. I was on-site to learn and train.

However by about 3:00pm when we came back to where we started, I was desperate for my Advil bottle, which I hungrily swallowed two and then a few minutes later another two. Within another thirty minutes I once again felt like I could manage the rest of the training and I was confident that the pain in my lungs and ribs was only bruising. I thought several times that when I got back home to Georgetown, I would go to my local hospital just to make sure my ribs were ok.

However it was not to happen.

At the end of the day when I reached my hotel room, breathing was harder and more painful and I started crying alone in fear. Well – NEVER cry when you have broken ribs… It makes it worse!

I texted my friend and our guide Emmanuel:

“Hey, Emmanuel it hurts when I breathe… I am scared’

He answers back:

‘It will hurt to breath you bruised your ribs…’

‘But I doubt they are broken or you wouldn’t move’

‘You can numb it with ice a little’

‘Try putting a tenser bandage’ – ok when I read this text, I thought to myself – but of course – if I had my first aid supplies with me, which I was suppose to pack and didn’t.  And I cried more.

Mercifully Emmanuel called me and I don’t know if it was my crying or perhaps he heard in my voice how scared I was, but certainly his medical training kicked in and he proceeded to calm me down over the phone, and then decided to come to my hotel room and drive me to a local hospital.

I was given a lecture though on of how I should have said my ribs where hurting, the numerous time I was asked if I was ok. I apologized profusely and honestly. But in my defence, I truly believed during the day I was ok and my ribs were only bruised and this skill training was important.

When we were told in the hospital that I had 3 broken ribs I was not surprised. Emmanuel was.

I have a high level of pain tolerance threshold and when I want to accomplish something, I like to believe I am strong, I just don’t see another option than just to move forward.

I have spent months training for both Mt Rainier and to climb Carstensz Pyramid. This training was important to me.

When Emmanuel said I could not climb Mt Rainier as I had 3 broken ribs, I felt all the air being sucked out of me. The anguish I felt in my heart was greater than the pain on my ribs. I have to – was my response, in between childlike sobs, which I think it should have scared him a bit, in retrospect. I have made a mental note to try to not cry again in front of my guide.

I have to be mountain ready! I have to, that is my determination.

I will rest and I will follow my Doctors orders and I have enlisted the help and support of my family. But on July 10, I am hoping Dr Downey says I can go and climb Mt Rainier, for my Denali Prep Course. Then when I return I plan to continue training for the Carstensz Pyramid climb in the Fall.

I will be careful, attentive and I am going to switch to stand up showers only.

Bathtubs are dangerous!  🙂

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Qu’est ce qui peut vous empêcher de suivre une formation d’escalade en préparation de l’ascension de la Pyramide de Carstensz?

Plusieurs choses je pense, mais le fait de glisser dans la baignoire de l’hôtel alors que vous prenez une douche, puis de vous cogner le côté droit de la cage thoracique contre la baignoire, posera certainement un problème.

En particulier si lors du choc, vous expirez l’air de vos poumons. Je peux vous assurer que ce n’est pas agréable!

C’est ce qui m’est arrivé au cours de la fin de semaine du 10-11 juin. Résultat : trois côtes cassées.

Samedi matin, je respirais difficilement à la suite de ma chute alors que je me douchais à l’hôtel. Je me suis rendue à la réception pour me procurer un flacon d’Advil. Je savais que je devais être sur le site à 8 h 45 pour suivre la formation; j’ai donc pris deux Advil, puis encore deux peu de temps après… Mais la douleur intense me dérangeait toujours.

Dans le système de navigation de ma voiture, j’ai entré l’adresse incomplète du lieu de formation que l’on m’avait fournie, ce qui m’a conduite dans la direction opposée.

Je suis donc arrivée avec environ 30 minutes de retard à la première journée de formation avec mes compagnons de cordée pour l’ascension de la Pyramide de Carstensz. Mauvais début.

Lorsque notre guide est venu me chercher au stationnement, je lui ai dit que je m’étais blessée aux côtes en prenant une douche. Je sais qu’il ne pouvait pas croire que je pouvais être aussi stupide, même s’il ne l’a pas dit. Il m’a fortement rappelée que je devais maintenant être prudente, en particulier à l’approche de notre expédition.

J’ai acquiescé, puis il a regardé mes côtes. Je lui ai assuré que ce n’était vraiment rien, qu’elles étaient sans doute juste couvertes de bleus et que j’avais déjà pris des Advil. Ça irait bien. Je lui ai affirmé que ça allait. Il m’a donc cru. En toute franchise, je croyais que j’allais tout à fait bien.

Je suis quelqu’un de confiant et de fort, et il n’avait aucune raison de douter de moi. Nous avions une journée entière de formation qui nous attendait.

J’essayais d’être dans mon état de confiance normal, même si mon côté droit me faisait souffrir à chaque inspiration. J’ai donc pris un autre Advil. En l’espace de quelques heures, j’en suis rendue à cinq.

Nous sommes allés faire de l’escalade sur rocher et avons laissés nos sacs à dos au pied de l’une des parois. J’ai aimé par moments, j’ai appris du mieux que je pouvais et me suis même lancée un défi tout en ignorant la douleur aiguë. J’étais ici pour apprendre et me préparer.

Cependant, vers 15 h, lorsque nous sommes revenus à notre point de départ, il était urgent que je prenne des Advil. J’en ai avalé deux immédiatement, puis deux autres quelques minutes plus tard. Trente minutes après, j’ai pensé que je pourrais profiter du reste de la formation et j’étais certaine que la douleur aux poumons et sur mes côtes n’était due qu’aux hématomes. J’ai à plusieurs reprises pensé qu’une fois de retour à Georgetown, j’irai à l’hôpital simplement pour m’assurer que tout allait bien.

Cependant, cela ne devait pas arriver.

À la fin de la journée, lorsque j’ai regagné ma chambre à l’hôtel, je respirais difficilement et je ressentais des douleurs. Je me suis mise à pleurer de peur. En fait, ne pleurez JAMAIS lorsque vous avez des côtes cassées; c’est pire!

J’ai envoyé un message texte à mon ami Emmanuel, qui était aussi notre guide :

« Salut Emmanuel, j’ai mal lorsque je respire… J’ai peur »

Il me répond :

« Ce sera douloureux de respirer. Tu t’es blessée aux côtes…

Mais je doute qu’elles soient cassées, sinon tu ne pourrais pas bouger.

Tu peux calmer la douleur en mettant de la glace.

Essaye de mettre un bandage serré » Très bien, en lisant ce texte, j’ai pensé que, bien entendu, si seulement j’avais ma trousse de premiers soins, que j’étais censée avoir dans mon sac et que je n’avais pas. Et j’ai pleuré encore plus.

Par chance, Emmanuel m’a appelée, et je ne sais pas si je pleurais toujours ou s’il a entendu dans ma voix que j’avais peur, mais certainement que ses compétences médicales ont pris le dessus. Il a commencé par me calmer au téléphone avant de venir à mon hôtel pour me conduire dans un hôpital local.

On m’a fait la leçon sur le fait que j’aurais dû dire que j’avais mal aux côtes, le nombre de fois où l’on m’a demandé si j’allais bien. Je me suis profondément excusée. Cependant, pour ma défense, j’ai vraiment cru que j’allais bien au cours de la journée et que je n’avais que des bleus. Et cette formation était importante.

Lorsqu’à l’hôpital on nous a annoncé que j’avais trois côtes cassées, je n’ai pas été surprise. Emmanuel l’a été.

Mon seuil de tolérance à la douleur est élevé et lorsque je veux accomplir quelque chose, j’aime penser que je suis résistante; je n’envisage rien d’autre que d’avancer.

J’ai passé des mois à m’entraîner pour l’ascension du Mont Rainier et de la Pyramide de Carstensz. C’était une formation importante pour moi.

Quand Emmanuel m’a dit que je ne pourrais pas faire l’ascension du Mont Rainier à cause de mes trois côtes cassées, je me suis sentie étouffer. Le pincement au cœur était plus douloureux que mes côtes. Entrecoupée de sanglots, ma réponse fut « Je dois y aller », ce qui, j’imagine, a dû l’effrayer un peu, quand j’y repense. Mentalement, je me suis promis de me souvenir de ne pas pleurer devant mon guide.

Je dois être prête pour la montagne! Je le dois et j’y suis déterminée.

Je vais me reposer et suivre les prescriptions de mon médecin. J’ai également demandé le soutien de ma famille. J’espère cependant que le 10 juillet, le docteur Downey me dira que je peux faire l’ascension du Mont Rainier, ma préparation pour l’ascension du Denali. Lorsque je rentrerai, je prévois de poursuivre ma formation pour l’ascension de la Pyramide de Carstensz en automne.

Je serai prudente et attentive, et je vais adopter les douches, les baignoires étant dangereuses! 🙂

Ema

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Old Ad for Expeditions to the Antarctic sparks my interest.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was born in Ireland and between February 15, 1874 to January 5, 1922, he led three British expeditions to the Antarctic.

Mountaineering has held the allure of men for centuries. But of course, also for women!

For example, Elizabeth Hawkins-Whiteshed (1860 – 27 July 1934), also known as Mrs Aubrey Le Blond, or as Lizzie Le Bond as she was known to her climbing friends, was a British pioneer of mountaineering in a time when it was almost unheard of for a woman to climb mountains.

Elizabeth moved to Switzerland, where she climbed mountains in her skirt. In 1907, she took the lead in forming the Ladies’ Alpine Club and became its first president. She wrote seven books on mountain climbing and over her lifetime made twenty first ascents, conquering peaks that no one had climbed before.‘ *

Well, I am not going to be climbing in any of my skirts, however I am looking forward to my first ascents this Summer and Fall. I can only hope to follow in the steps of many brave women that precede me.

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Hawkins-Whitshed
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Hiking, very much like running a marathon – mentally!

As I was hiking today, I realized that setting out on a hike is very similar to running a marathon. At the onset you are scared, then once you start hiking you are excited and believe you can complete it, and several times in-between you question your sanity. Your body aches and you want to scream. An hour before your reach the finish line you tell yourself it is impossible to continue as your body aches and your legs are threatening to stop moving and you are going to just pass out. Then ten minutes before the end, you think to yourself – ‘this was not that bad’.

These thoughts and many more went through my head today, as I did three days in a row of hiking, as per RMI’s ‘Fit to Climb: Week 14 – RMI Expeditions Mountaineering Training.’

Since this was the Victoria Day long weekend, I thought it was perfect timing. On Saturday I hiked 2 hours, and even though the schedule did not call for it, I wore my twelve pound weight vest, to compensate for minimum elevation gains, of because of where I live. Then yesterday, Sunday I did a four hour hike, again wearing my twelve pound vest, because I was only able to gain 298 meters (about 1,000 feet) in elevation, when the training called for 2,500 feet. Yesterday it was raining off and on and the trails were muddy, but great practice for the Carstensz Pyramid upcoming climb I rationalized.

These two days were the prelude to today’s hike, where I had to hike for seven hours, carrying 45 pounds. I headed to the Bruce trail. Steve dropped me off at Limehouse, and then I proceeded to make my way towards SilveryCreek, following the main and side Blue Spruce trails.

I was a little out of place on the trails I think, carrying my 80 litre backpack. This is the backpack that I will be taking with me to Mt Rainier. I had condensed the backpack, since I had put the 45 pounds of weights inside and only had packed some lunch, water and a spare jacket. However almost everyone that I encountered on the trail, either wished me well on my long hike or inquired on how far I was going? 🙂

I currently weigh 100 pounds. So 45 pounds was hard. Really hard.  And the loneliness of hiking alone played tricks on my mind.

But at the end, like running a marathon, once you had a couple of hours of rest at home, you can’t remember how hard it was – and are ready to do it all over again.

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Training Session of May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017

I now train 7 days a week. I am training based on “Fit to Climb”, by RMI, so I am ready for my upcoming Denali Prep course with RMI’s Expedition Skills Seminar – Emmons, which is a six day instructional mountaineering course with a summit attempt on Mt. Rainier via the Emmons Glacier route.

At the same time, I am learning to rock climb and I have a personal trainer to help me build more of my upper body strength to tackle the Carstensz Pyramid.

Today, it was a particular tough day. I had hiked 3 hours yesterday, as per this weeks schedule from RMI’s weekly program, and it was to be followed by 7 hours of hiking today, with a weighted backpack.

I currently have 37 pounds on my pack.

When you are running a marathon your mind plays games with you. At least mine does!!! First you are excited to start the race and usually about around 10 km you start regretting having signed up for the full marathon. Then just around the split, you are resigned to run the whole thing. And when you are on your last 4-5 km, you question your sanity.

That was me today. At about 4 km away from home, and at about 6 hours of hiking time. I pondered using my cell phone and asking my family to come pick me up. I contemplated sitting and leaving my backpack on the side of the road and going later to pick it up. I worried not being able to climb.

Then I reach the steps of my side door and I knew that tomorrow morning I would lace up my running shoes and do the training session on the schedule.

Because like running, hiking is peaceful, challenging and I am doing it because I enjoy it.

And like when I was training for a marathon, I filled a bath and I let my body indulge for 20 minutes with the Jacuzzi jets at full capacity, and yes, I am aware this is a luxury that will not be available to me in my tent. But I am still home, so no harm in taking advantage of it!

Training is hard physically, but also mentally. Today my brain was more tired than my body, and thus they fought.

Ema

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Carstensz Pyramid – Puncak Jaya

Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian Mountaineer, athlete and author whom was born 6 July 1912.

“In 1962, he was the leader of the team of four climbers who made the first ascent of the Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) (4,884 m, 16,024 ft) in Papua Indonesia, the highest peak in Oceania.” *

It is believed that after his many adventures, that he said these words in Papua. “„On Aigera I wanted to test my skills, in Himalayas I got to know loneliness, in Tibet unusual people. On the New Guinea Island I found everything altogether.“ 

Skills, loneliness and meeting unusual people – to me it simple sounds like three important ingredients for a wonderful adventure.

I have been reading and watching YouTube video experiences from others whom have climbed the Carstensz Pyramid. Some accounts make me laugh, some make me anxious to get there and some scare me a bit – especially those that say it is harder than Everest.

Carstensz will be my first official summit climb. I am training for the ‘skill’ aspect. The ‘loneliness’ part, I will keep in mind all the people that I am doing this with, even if they are not physically present. I am climbing with colleagues and with friends, my family will be in my mind and heart, my friends at home in my thoughts and my motivation will not falter because of those we can help by raising awareness to help #endstigma about Mental Health. Therefore by meeting “unusual people”,  this will allow me, I believe to fit right in…. 🙂

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Harrer

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