Have you ever climbed a mountain?
Would you know what it is like? What it feels like?
Well I’ve never actually climbed a mountain but I’ve trekked up one.
And it was the hardest thing I had ever done. At the time.
It was 1985, I was on assignment helping a friend film the Sherper people of the High Himalayas. We had treked along raging rivers and small villages for a couple of days then came the real travel.
Not with cars, busses, trains, planes or boats but with legs, bone, muscle and sheer … mind over matter. It was a travel day I will never forget.
Thank goodness for the Sherper people who carried our equipment as this was to be one of the toughest walks of my life. And I was used to walking.
On the map it was only a couple of inches. Just down the road.
NO. Four hours straight … up.
We looked ahead past the rushing Kumbu river … and there it was, snaking it’s way … up.
The road to Namche. "A four hour climb", they said.
Four hours from the Khumbu valley floor where the wild, spring, white water river was racing to somewhere down stream, to the sky. The road to heaven.
We reached the base of the road and looked up. It was a path with barely room for two people to pass. Yet this was the main road that had been used for centuries.
It was a walk not a climb. Straight up.
Here we go … slowly each foot, inches in front of the other on stone, on earth, on the centuries old pathway pushing back and … up.
One foot at a time pushing forward and …up.
It is a climb … up.
The steep mountain path aiming to the top, walking toward the high Himalayas.
Mind over matter was the difficulty. It wasn’t just physical, it wasn’t just the altitude ascending … up. It was my attitude that was going to get me to the top.
It wasn’t as if I could go back, friends with me straining, together, yet alone. Some stopping to rest while others continuing past … without a word. Each in their own personal quest to take control, of self. And the only way was … up.
Had to be done, a small step at a time, straining … up.
One hour came, then past. Khumbu River now far below. The Sherper town of Namche Bazaar far above. And beyond, the top of the world, Mount Everest.
Was I half way yet?
I glanced at my watch. Counted the minutes, the seconds, and as my brain began to mesmerize ... the hours. Relentlessly it was all … up.
Slowly … pacing, breathing in … breathing out, passing several Sherpers and hikers making their way down. Several making their way … up. Passing me.
Stopping occasionally to calm burning calf muscles, sit down, sipping on water then steeply … up .
Hikers were decending toward me, skipping, one slip, maybe collide, tumbling a great distance. Danger.
All smiled and nodded politely then passed.
Alone ... still … the trudge ... up. Two hours. Anguish … up.
Three hours. Exhaustion had past, running on all the strength I could muster from I don’t know where, but I was still going. Cruelly ... up.
Treking up mountains is physicality hard and difficult. Exausting, draining and sometimes your walking through tears. Your legs are burrning and you can't go any further. But you do. We say it’s impossible. Yet it isn’t. And that’s the wonder of us human beings, our minds. We survive on the workings or our minds. And we can all do it. We can do anything when we put our minds to it.
How do you climb that mountain? One step at a time.
How do you build a sky scraper or go to the moon?
How does the snale cross the field. One centimeter at a time.
Mind over matter.
We can all do what ever we gear our minds to do. We must give ourselves the goal, the treasure, the prize .. and with a singlemindedness Go for it.
My wrist-watch beckoned. Four hours had come and gone. I was rising on brain power with thoughts of fresh air and the new high view … snow capped mountains … up.
I looked and the path flattened in front. Was I nearing Namche?
I glimpsed a man … standing high on a peak shouting and pointing. What was he saying? Shouting over and over in English, with his Nepalese accent.
I neared ... one slow, tired, hurtful step at a time.
It became clear, he was saying one word. "LEMONADE”
Lemonade? Oh Yes, how sweet a thought.
A force arose in me to ‘sprint to the finish line’ one inch at a time ... up a mountain road.
And suddenly ‘up’ was the goal of refreshment … Stop … Sit … perhaps Sleep.
I MADE IT - to UP
and all I could think was …
the only way out is … DOWN.