The Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon … Nope!

I recently received an invitation via email from someone I’ve been considering for a trek guide in Nepal. The invitation is for the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon. Yep, the starting line is at 17,000 feet. (Do you have any idea of how very little oxygen is up there?) My first reaction was, “Whaaaaaaaaaaa??????” My second… Uhhhhh, NOPE! Unless the zombie apocalypse has happened, and I am being chased by the hoard, this chick ain’t running. Anywhere!

Let’s get this straight. I am SLOWLY making my way back to being fit. Maybe my blog title “From Couch to Everest” was confusing? Was it??? I actually meant my butt has been on the couch for years. I’m making a commitment to my family and friends to get healthy and fit. I’m making this process public to make myself accountable, to inspire some of my friends to join me, and to maybe make some new friends along the way. I am not a runner. Hell, I don’t even like to walk much, but I am making a commitment to getting fit.

I may have to admit that I chose my ultimate goal of doing the Everest Base Camp (15 day) Trek…poorly…but my butt WILL be out there trekking to Everest in Spring 2018. That I know. I also know it won’t be running a freaking marathon at 17,000 ft (or anywhere else) for, like, ever! Just a little heads-up there…

Super Serious Everest Prep

The Half Dome Day Trek —  Trail Rated -VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY HARD  

Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers and hard on the breathe-y lobes. Although thousands of people reach the summit each year, for most, it is an exciting, arduous hike; for a few, it becomes more of an adventure than they wanted. Indeed, park rangers assist hundreds of people on the Half Dome trail every summer. Much of the hike to Half Dome is an adventure into Wilderness. (Don’t feed the bears {aka. danger floofs}, don’t play with snakes {aka. nope ropes}, don’t fall and break legs/ankles/arms/etc. All of that is bad, very bad.)  

The 14- to 16-mile round-trip hike to Half Dome is not for you if you’re out of shape or unprepared. You will be gaining elevation (for a total of 4,800 feet) most of your way to the top of Half Dome. Most would say the reward is worth the effort. Along the way, you’ll see outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and–from the shoulder and summit–panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.

Most hikers take 10 to 12 hours to hike to Half Dome and back; some take longer. If you plan on hiking during the day, it’s smart to leave around sunrise (or earlier) and then have a non-negotiable turn-around time. For instance, if you haven’t reached the top of Half Dome by 3:30 pm, you will turn around. Check for sunrise and sunset times before you hike. Regardless, each person should carry a flashlight or headlamp with good batteries (hikers commonly struggle down the trail after dark because they don’t have a flashlight.) Although the trail is well marked, you should be prepared with a good topographic map and compass and know how to use them.

The Half Dome Cables to the Summit

           

The most famous–or infamous–part of the hike is the ascent up the cables. The two metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment. Since 1919, relatively few people have fallen and died on the cables. However, injuries are not uncommon for those acting irresponsibly. (Climbing during/after rainfall is highly discouraged as the near 90-degree slope and cables become super, wicked slickery.)

Note: A maximum of 300 hikers are allowed (about 225-day hikers and 75 backpackers) each day on the Half Dome Trail beyond the base of the sub dome. Permits are distributed by lottery via Recreation.gov.

info provided by national park service

 

How Everest Base Camp Trekkers Die …REALLY???

So, I’ve been doing my kind of intense Everest BC Trek research. (Yes, it’s an OCD-type sickness. Also, I hate surprises.) 

While plowing through the various “do-this, avoid that” type blog articles, I seemed to have stumbled across some alarming, yet interesting, information. Of course, these article titles like to shock-tease me with promises of horrifying tales of the deaths of innocent EBC trekkers. I won’t lie. Initially, I am duly alarmed.

Oh shit! Am I going to die in one of these many horrible ways? 

Which kind of intrigues my, oh so tiny, inner adrenaline junkie. (Also known as the crazy-ass-stoopid girl, and she says, “Cool. I’ve gotta see this!“)

I’m reading…reading…reading… and what I see, for the most part, doesn’t surprise me too much. When traveling to altitudes of 8000 ft. and above the air becomes “thinner.” The thinner air means there is less oxygen to breathe and the human body tends to find that less than pleasing.

When we breathe in air at sea level, the atmospheric pressure of about 14.7 psi (pounds per square inch) causes oxygen to easily pass through selectively permeable lung membranes into the blood. At high altitudes, the lower air pressure (7.34 psi at 18,000 ft.) makes it a bit more difficult for oxygen to enter our lungs. The arteries develop excessive pressure because we are breathing harder in response to the low oxygen, which results in a buildup of fluid in our breathe-y lobes.

Yes, “breathe-y lobes” is a technical term… Because I said.

Here’s a taste of the fun things your body may go through if you choose to continue onward and upward to EBC at around 18,000 ft.:  Acute Mountain Sickness (known as AMS) is quite similar to having the flu or a really suck-ass hangover. It causes headaches, nausea, and fatigue which left untreated will progress along to one or both of its nasty cousins High Altitude Cerebral Edema (or HACE- a condition in which the brain swells with fluid) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (or HAPE- a condition where fluid accumulates in the lungs.)

Sooooo, a body can drown in its own goo? Mmm-kaaaay?

Makes sense. Breathing is good for me, and I like to breathe. I guess the fact that there is ~50% less oxygen way up there than there is at sea level (where I live) is moderately challenging. Since Everest Base Camp is at the altitude of 18,192 ft. I probably should train more vigorously in the cardio area to combat that. And take a crapload of anti-AMS meds with me!

Well… what other horrors await?

I keep reading…reading… and that’s when I see it. The most likely way I am going to depart this world? Death. By. Yak.

YAK? You’ve got to be kidding me. Yaks? What in the fresh hell??? 

Ermm, yeah. Seems like these are not the gentle beasts of burden that the wicked Nepalese propaganda spinners would like us to believe. Yaks–can apparently–get very pissy. I know I would if I had to lug the junk of multiple fat-arsed, North Face wearing, wi-fi searching, nimnod tourists for miles and miles. Every. Single. Day. That being said, sometimes the trails do tend to get a little narrow in spots and trekkers are encouraged to give the yaks right of way, and if the aforementioned fat-arsed trekkers don’t hug the cliff face just so the yaks will toss their butts right off the mountain.

Okaaaaaaaaaay.  So is it the yak, or the drop, that kills you? Should I treat them like I would any dangerous being?  Helz yeah.

Note to self:  Self, do not make eye contact with yaks.  Make yourself very, very small as the yaks pass by.  And, Self, no matter what, no matter the urge, DO NOT criticize their hair style or smell. Yaks have feelings too. And they are the dealers-out of some serious freaking Karma.

Got it! I should make it back to Florida just fine. Fingers crossed!

Don’t look at the yaks… Don’t look at the yaks… Don’t look at the yaks….

So, this is how it started…

I was thinking about making a travel scrapbook (I know. Don’t judge! I was really bored.) and while I was looking through various travel and vacation photos from the last couple of years, that was when I finally saw “IT.” Wow. Just… wow. That overweight chick in the photos, with the not quite happy expressions to be captured in a picture…shit! That’s me! No wonder I always hid in the back of group photos and avoided selfies like the plague. When the hell did all THAT happen???

Well, let’s see.  IT most likely started several years ago when I skipped along willingly into that awesome, let’s-all-be-hamsters-in-a-wheel, corporate world. Long, horrid commutes, ten to twelve(+) sedentary hours a day at a desk. Let’s include a lot of poor food choices. Toss in some lack of motivation, perhaps a smidgen of depression, then go home to collapse in a pit of exhaustion most evenings. Yep, yep and yep. Pretty sure that’s when it began.

So, in brief… life choices, food choices, and very little motivation to be healthy. For many, many years. Oh, yeah. I did that. THAT is all on me.

Soooooooo, how am I going to get out of the bubbling pool of poo I’ve let my body sink into?

I’ll have to change my diet… Definitely.

AND go to the gym… Kill me now.

This is going to be a long, laborious process… Awesome-freaking-sauce.

I need a goal!

A good goal. A great goal. The best goal. The most BIGLY goal ever!  Me trekking to Base Camp at MOUNT FREAKING EVEREST!!  Hey, I know what you’re thinking. It’s banging on the back of my skull too, but what if…?

 

Never, Never, Never Settle

This is how I feel every day.

I’m not doing this to get attention. I’m not doing this to show the world I can. I’m not doing this for personal gain.

I’m doing this because I have a burning need to prove to myself that nothing is impossible.

I WILL make it to Everest!