I spent this morning running along the beachfront in Rio de Janeiro. 48 hours ago I sat in my tent at the base camp of Manaslu (west-central Nepal) after two successful acclimatization rotations in my attempt to climb the world’s 8th highest peak.
I never reached the summit of Manaslu. After more than two weeks of climbing I no longer wanted to.
My decision to leave the team left some a little mystified. I had adapted well to altitude, felt strong, and climbed with confidence and pace. Despite this, when I reached Camp 1 on the second rotation my decision to leave was firm – and clear.
The definition of reason (verb) is to ‘think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic’. Emotion and facts both play important roles in the process of forming reasoned judgements. On Manaslu, my understanding of risk, and my emotional attachments, conspired to influence my motivation for the summit.
Earlier in the day of my epiphany:
- A climber from another team suffered a stroke and was evacuated;
- A South American climber was seen slumped over from exhaustion above Camp 1;
- A guide that knew our team leader relayed her concerns about the avalanche risk of excessive snow above Camp 3;
- Someone on our team reminded me that a Canadian died leaving Camp 4 the year prior (suspected heart failure);
- A friend from high school wrote to me the night before encouraging me to assess the risk-reward of my expedition.
Was the universe speaking to me?
I sensed the pin tumblers of a lock rotate slightly and I was left holding the key to a different door. The new door, and the new lock, could only be opened by following a different understanding.
I loved my experience on Manaslu, and I will continue climbing. But the boundaries of my reason have changed and I will choose my challenges with new insight.