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Days 12, 13 & 14 - Going up, patience is key

Day 12 

No Internet connection for six days...

It’s a weird feeling not being in touch with our loved ones, not asking how they feel or sharing how we feel. Even though this is a completely different experience, not getting any emails, any WhatsApp messages, or being able to see what people are doing, I must admit that at some point it’s mind-relaxing. The feeling of time is completely different. The pace is completely different compared to our daily business life.

Our main focus is on how to stay warm, what we will eat today, how we will get from A to B safely and healthily, and that’s it. It’s a completely different kind of world, going back to the basics, being in a more survival mode, and being happy with small things like having a hot tea, feeling warm, sleeping more than three hours, or being able to wash our clothes or hair. These aspects make us happy—being able to hike for 6-8 hours without complications and dealing with the high altitude without getting altitude sickness. It’s a completely different feeling of time, and it’s unbelievable that now, for five days, we don’t have any connection with the world. It’s a challenge to get a satellite connection.

Today we started with a really special ceremony. We woke up at 6:30, and the Putha ceremony started at 7 am. This is a ceremony where the shaman, who is qualified in Buddhism, prays and gets blessings from nature to go up the mountain. This is a really important ritual for all the Sherpas to get blessings and to get mentally and spiritually ready for the challenge. We are going into the territory of the mountain, and we need the blessings of the universe to stay safe and healthy and to go up and come back healthy. All the Sherpas attended the ceremony, and it also had the effect of uniting the team. We felt united and ready emotionally for our next challenge.

After the ceremony, we had a nice breakfast and started to get ready for Camp 1. Camp 1 is 5.5 km away, and the altitude is 5500m. We started the hike, and most of us felt short of breath with each step, feeling the high altitude and exhaustion, but we continued with shorter breaks. We were really lucky with the weather. It was a nice sunny day, and it was a challenge to manage our clothing because when the wind came, it got really cold, but without the wind, it got really warm. We tried to maintain the right balance of clothing as we moved on to Camp 1.

The doctor gave me a great recommendation: she said to focus on your rhythm like in swimming, be in synchronicity with your legs and arms. I tried that, and it helped me a lot. I felt less exhausted and could focus on my rhythm, maintaining a slow and steady pace. That was really great to feel.

We saw many nice natural pools and waterfalls. The road was quite tricky because there

were so many rocks and stones, and it was a sandy, slippery area. In some parts, we slid down with the sand and rocks, which was quite challenging. The Sherpa helped us navigate our route. Some rocks fell from the top, so we were on alert, checking the stones above to avoid getting hit. Even the thought of this risk made me feel really emotional and scared. I focused on balancing enjoying the moment, being careful, staying alert, being mindful, and minding my steps.

This kind of situation is really new and completely out of my comfort zone. Compared to the English Channel Swim, there are also risks like hypothermia and exhaustion, but these risks feel much more uncontrollable and dangerous. Maybe it’s because it’s an area I haven’t been to before, so it’s completely new and out of my comfort zone. I try to leverage my experience and knowledge from other swim challenges to maintain my peace, my confidence, and continue in this challenge.

After a three-hour hike, we had a small lunch and decided not to go all the way to Camp 1 because the Sherpas said it would take another two hours to get there, and we needed to go back to Basecamp. The risk was hiking in the darkness, and not all team members had lights with them. We decided to go back, and in total, we had a six-hour hike covering 8.5 km.

As you can see, day by day, with the high altitude, the duration of our hikes, and the number of kilometers we cover is getting different. At higher altitudes, it’s more challenging to go faster, so we took our time, being mindful of ourselves and not over-pacing because we know it’s a long journey, and the critical and challenging part is just starting.

After we arrived at Basecamp, we had a short rest, tea time, and a nice dinner. Our mountain guide Sean informed us that the Sherpas need to prepare Camp 1, as not everything is ready. The weather conditions will also not be great, so we decided to have a rest day again at Basecamp to get better prepared for Camp 1. In Camp 1, the conditions will be much harder: people will share tents with other participants, there will be no big tent where we can eat and talk together, and there will be no toilet tent. It will be much colder, with an expected temperature difference of 8 degrees. Our tents will be partially on ice and rocks, which takes a lot of preparation. The rule in this expedition is always safety first, so tomorrow we will have a rest day while the Sherpas prepare Camp 1 and start preparing Camp 2, which will be at a high altitude of 6200 meters.


Day 13:

Rest Day - Last Day in Basecamp Before It Gets More Serious in Camp 1 - Plans Can Always Change!

Today we had a late breakfast, which was good. After that, we washed our clothes and had an opportunity to wash ourselves with some warm water. After that, we had a serious meeting with our mountain guide Sean. He mentioned the risks of this expedition and emphasized that it’s getting more serious and real. Starting tomorrow, when we reach Camp 1, it will get colder. We will be on ice, at a much higher altitude, and we need to take our ice boots with us. There are risks like frostbite and being hit by rocks. We don’t want to repeat all the risks again or focus on those risks at this stage.

It’s really important to follow the rules, be mindful, not get distracted, follow the instructions of the Sherpas and our guide, and be accountable and responsible for our own safety. Of course, we have the experts around us, but we need to be accountable and mindful. This conversation was quite serious and again showed the magnitude of the undertaking. But it’s not new information—we knew the risks before we came. We already knew these challenging days would come. Hopefully, we will break the record.

Today we are resting and getting mentally ready for tomorrow, one step at a time. The guides and experts know what they are doing. My strategy is to be mindful of instructions, do my best, support each other, and have faith. At the end of the day, we don’t know what we don’t know. We can control ourselves, our emotions, our attitude, and we can control following the instructions, being mindful, and being careful. There are still some aspects we can’t control, like nature. For example, today the weather is really cold. It’s snowing, and the sun is not out. The weather forecast for the next four days also shows that it will be cloudy. We can pray for the sun and less wind, but this is not in our control, so we need to be ready for all the different conditions the mountain will give us and hope for the best, that we are resilient and strong enough to take this challenge and go up and come back healthy.


Team Motto of Today:

  • Doctor Chiara: Just focus on today; tomorrow will worry about itself.

  • Vaness: Breathe through mental, physical, spiritual moments. Just take a breath.

  • Ali: Never give up.

  • Juan: The sun will shine again.

  • Neon: Yeah.

  • Deniz: Be mindful, one step at a time, and have faith.


Weather Conditions Getting Harder...

At dinner, we checked the weather forecast. It’s snowing, and we may need to wait for a couple of days. Change is the only constant; adaptation is key.

My EY out-of-office note says that I am away till April 9th, but this will not be the case. Just know that I can’t change anything and can only do what I need to do NOW to stay safe and focus on the signs of nature. The biggest wish: healthy up, healthy down, all together.


Day 14

Waiting for the Big Day...

Waiting to move to Camp 1 at 5400m altitude and then to 6250m altitude at Camp 2 to break the world record.

My stress level is high. I am trying to relax and did some meditations, waiting for the latest weather report. The last update was a week ago when we had a connection with the world.

Patience is key. Waiting and using the time for regeneration, to be ready for the big day. The next 3-4 days will be tough. The countdown has started without knowing when we will exactly move.

Juan went to another peak to get a signal from the satellite to check the weather conditions. In the base camp, we don’t have any connection. We hope for good weather to continue our journey. We have already lost the feeling of time.

Keep waiting and let’s see what the next hours bring.


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