So my ass was kicked by the mountain I least expected it from. 4810m, how hard can it be, right? Wrong!
“50% chance of success” – they said. “Naaaaa” – I thought.
Brief intro just in case: Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in the Alps, Western Europe and EU. Also commonly known as Monte Bianco (for Italians). Or as a Death Mountain or White Killer (for pessimists). The reason for the later nicknames is quite obvious: although the mountain is relatively “low” (compared to Himalayas, or Andes for example), the number of people trying to climb it is quite high, resulting in a higher death rate, proportionally. Now enough with statistics. If you ask me: it’s not the mountain, it’s the joyfully crazy people that flock to Mont Blanc that top up the scales. If you stick to the “Normal route” and just plan to move your feet – you should be fine (unless avalanche hits and swipes you off those feet – about that later). But people there are nothing but normal, and so they leave this route for us, amateurs, and go up the mountain in some batshit crazy ways, and go down even in a crazier ones.
- – A 6189 meter mountain in the Himalayas, 10km away from Everest.
- – It’s higher than half of the World’s Seven Summits.
- – Was first climbed in 1956 as preparation exercise for Everest summit attempt.
- – Officially called Imja Tse, but popularly known as Island Peak because half a century ago it reminded some dude of “an island in the sea of ice”.
- – If you take a person from sea level and put him directly on the summit, he will die within half an hour: the level of oxygen up there is only 45% of what you normally get.
This post is a proof that you don’t need experience to get places. When I signed up for Island Peak, I had never trekked, hiked, let alone climbed before. I haven’t been at altitude higher than 1500m and was oblivious to the phenomenon of thin air. My diet was a disaster, amount of wine in it – disturbing, and exercise – nonexistent. I was depressed and needed something. Himalayas seemed like a perfect remedy. I saw the pictures of beautiful scenery this trip promised to hold and made up my mind in an instant. I disregarded the warning of “difficulty level” being “six out of six”, and thought of a few times I went to the gym. “Oh come on, how hard can it be – I said to myself – moving your feet and enjoying the view”. Little did I know how breathtaking, literally, it would be.