January 6, 2014
Summit: 19,340-ft/5,895-m • 9 hours
Crater Camp: 18,700-ft/5,600-m • 2 hours
Today is summit day!
Needless to say, the push to the summit will be our longest and hardest day. It begins with a relatively short climb to the Crater Camp where we will have a quick break for lunch. This is where we will overnight after reaching the summit. On reading further, however, it appears that the Crater Camp was slated to be closed a year or more ago as many did not adhere to the strict National Park rules of respecting the area. Even today, it seems that few are granted the privilege to camp overnight at the Crater as we are slated to do. To many, it would make more sense to stay at Crater Camp overnight and then push on the next day to the summit. However, that runs counter to a well-practiced approach when climbing in high altitudes (and backed by science) that you should climb high during the day and sleep low at night. So we will press on to the top and return later to the Crater camp, staying near the Furtwängler Glacier for the night.
Over the past 24 hours, I have been in deep thought about the summit and what it means to me to achieve this and my reasons for pursuing it. Even now, I am finding it difficult to express how much it means and I am not sure how I will react on summit day, both physically and emotionally, in seeing this through. As well, I am quite taken by the rare features of this trip that I had not anticipated – such as the opportunity to stay overnight at Crater camp and to view a glacier that may soon be non-existent. I feel extremely fortunate to have this life experience and, more than anything, that I have the physical ability to undertake it. And yet, truly, my efforts are nothing compared to what my mother faced every day in living with end-stage COPD so I am pursuing this for those who cannot so that one day they may…..through new and better treatments to battle lung disease.
“When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”