My Decision to Quit

Sunday, May 21, 2017 was a pivotal day. I was on Pete's (the guide) rope slogging back up to 14,000 feet. I told him I could not do his pace and pulled him back off the rest of the team. He said if I cannot keep the pace I probably cannot make a summit bid.  I agreed and clanked ice axes with him.

After dinner I spoke to the guides privately and told them I was done. I can see how steep the approach to camp 17,000' is, how my heels are not getting better, and there is no way I'm capable. I'm also hating the cold and I don't think I have proper clothing to make it to 17,000 feet overnight let alone a summit bid. They understood. I became emotional when I agreed to tell the rest of the team at breakfast the next day.

That night I spent 10 hours in the tent with my two mates tossing and turning and gasping for what little thin air there was. It was a scary and annoying night with little sleep.  Not unlike what I experienced on Aconcagua.  Freezing cold. Frost inside everywhere. I used my pee bottle twice.

Monday, May 22, 2017.  At breakfast I told the team I was dropping out. It was emotional. I explained about the cold and my clothing and my injuries. I told them I did not feel competent with all the technical gear and I may have even mentioned my age although that was the least of my problems. I said I had nothing more to prove.  I was at peace with my decision.  Frankly, I felt relief and began thinking of all the advantages to getting down early.  And I knew the summit completion rate was 50/50 in a good weather season, let alone what we were dealing with.

I assured the team I would continue to help build camp and retrieve the cache and participate in other team activities (which I did), but I would go no higher.

And then the wait. How and when was I going to get down from this glacier?? That was in the hands of Pete and I did not question. The answer, however, would arrive in five days time.  That Essay will be called "The End of Days" which for me were some scary times.

My right heel shortly after getting off Denali.  No amount of duct tape was going to help me keep climbing.

My left heel.  Chugging Advil and taping up allowed me to get down the hill in pain.
Let's do this thing.


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