October 9, 2006 Happy Thanksgiving Report from Michael Boni
This is Michael Boni reporting from Everest Base Camp on behalf of Berg Adventures International.
I would like to wish everyone in Canada a Happy Thanksgiving. I am sitting here in the cold thinking of roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes gravy and steamed corn….. Did I mention fresh lettuce? Here at Base Camp team members are all resting and getting ready to put their ‘game face’ on for the next rotation. This up coming rotation will be the big one summit push.
For me my summit push has come to an acceptable halt.
Over a year ago when I decided to Live My Dream and attempt to climb Everest. The summit was very much on the front of my ambition. At the same time I always qualified my ambition by stating: If I am not 100% ready for summit time I would back off. Words like ‘back off’ do not come easy for me. At sea level I grew up doing athletics thinking that if your not; bleeding’ you’re not pushing hard enough. As an average athlete this mental strength took me perhaps further then I deserved, but it’s tough to teach an old dog new tricks.
At 20, 25 or even 29,000 feet this type of thinking is very dangerous. I knew this before arriving at Everest and thought I could overcome this Achilles heel. Six weeks ago when I arrived I came down with a fever. I rested several days. I should have rested several more. After that I just seemed to miss my ‘skip’ in my swagger towards climbing Everest. I was by far in my best condition yet everything I did was a struggle. I made all kinds of excuses but in the back of my mind I knew something was not what it should be.
What was a fever became a cough then became a lung infection of sorts. I say of sorts because I have not been to a doctor yet. Again, at sea level I am sure what ever I have would be long gone. Living at 21,000 feet for a week my lungs started ‘bleeding’ so I guess I have pushed things too far? Unfortunately I was spitting blood so it no longer was just a figure of speech.
Each major push up Everest it would take me longer to recover. It was funny how one day I could climb a wall of ice higher then the CN Tower at 24,000 feet and then the next several days struggle to do the simplest of tasks.
Then came the ‘fear’ factor. My fear was not going on the next rotation, which is the summit push. My fear was not coming back from this rotation! Up here things become black and white and that is how clear my fear became. I new I could drag myself back to Camp 2 and feel like I am running on one lung with 60% less oxygen then sea level. I figured I could put one huge push to Camp 3 but probably be totally drained. I could live with this.
The fear started at Camp 3 and moving forward. I could just imagine I would do something really dumb and get summit fever and somehow drag myself, if not crawl to Camp 4. They call Camp 4 and above the death zone for a good reason. Up there even the most healthy body is dying!
I can be so focused, so stubborn I could visualize myself at Camp 4 thinking about the summit. Maybe, just maybe I might have got there. Now the big problem would begin for me and my fellow climbers. I just do not believe I could have completed the second half of the journey which is coming back down. When I lay it out like the above it appears like a no-brainer of a decision. If you believe that then you do not know me well enough!
Saying all of the above I would like again to wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving. Also, I would like to thank my sponsors, family and friends as well as everyone who has been following our climb. Special thanks to all of those who have supported Make a Wish Foundation Live Your Dream at One Cent a Foot. So far the campaign has been a huge success and was a great motivator to climb just one more foot. 100% of all proceeds have gone directly to MAWF.
I have lived my dream by climbing Everest. I have experienced events and seen things that have already changed my life forever. I lived for six weeks on the ‘ice’ with some of the worlds best extreme athletes. I have shared stories that just about any outdoor magazine would cut their right arm to print, yet for me it was just another day living my dream. Over the next several weeks there is a part of Everest history that could be rewritten so stay tuned, for the best is yet to come.
Last year when I decided to live this dream I said going to Everest is optional, coming home with all my body ‘parts’ was mandatory. Well, I am coming home (early November), a little beat up, very tired, and little more humble.
Now I can always say ‘I climbed Everest on my terms because it was mandatory!’