Well…. This Is It. No Turning Back Now!
After a hectic lead up, Project 7in4 is finally underway. Last night I arrived in Punta Arenas, our departure port for Antarctica. Today we’re going though final preparations and gear check before flying to Union Glacier, Antarctica, early tomorrow morning (weather permitting).
Despite months of planning and preparing it was still a last minute rush to make it to the airport. But true to form I still managed to fit in one last training session the morning of my flight before Mum, Dad and my sister took me to the airport.
I had planned to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare but as we were walking out the door I had one of those “oh shit” moments. I had misread my itinerary and my flight was actually departing an hour earlier than I thought. Not a great way to start. With some 30 odd flights yet to go, I’m going to have to get much better at reading my itinerary if I’m going to have any hope of pulling this off. Thankfully being a Sunday Sydney traffic wasn’t too bad making for a reasonably quick trip to the airport.
Transiting through Santiago stress levels rose once more as one of my bags failed to arrive. After 3hrs of waiting ground crew finally located it just in time for my connecting flight to Punta Arenas. It is the smallest things like this that could derail this entire project.
As I have just departed I don’t have any news to report so instead I’ll try and answer a few questions I’ve frequently been asked over the lead up to this trip:
1) How are you feeling? Are you scared, nervous, excited?
2) How do you think you’ll feel when you’ve finished?
Q. How are you feeling? Are you scared, nervous, excited?
A. None of the above. How about focused. Is focused a feeling?
What do I have to be scared or nervous about? I have done the training and preparation. I have put in the hard work. Now I just need to back myself and execute.
What do I have to be excited about? I am currently starring down the barrel of months of repeated jetlag, camp living, freezing temperatures, oxygen deprivation and long strenuous days. Actually, now that I say it, that does sound kind of fun. Maybe I am just a touch excited:)
I guess having feelings when heading in to something like this, whether it be fear, nervousness, apprehension or excitement, is kind of normal. However I believe that allowing feelings to dominate is counterproductive to the task at hand. So while I may be slightly excited, I am really just trying to block all that out and focus on what I have to do – climb 7 mountains in under 4 months and get back home. Pretty simple equation really.
Q. How do you think you’ll feel when you’ve finished?
A. I’ll tell you when I’ve finished.
I am honestly not looking that far ahead and haven’t even thought about it.
For me, the idea of climbing the 7 Summits started in December 2014 while lying in hospital with a broken neck. While in my mind I had committed to doing it, the magnitude of the task from where I was at that point in time was unfathomable. To focus on the end goal was overwhelming. Plus I had bigger issues to worry about. So I put the 7 Summits to the back of my mind and focused on my immediate objective which was initially to walk out of hospital, then to get through the months in the halo, then to do the necessary rehab, then my first practice climb and so on. All along my focus has been taking it step by step.
Even now, all I’m focused on is my immediate objective, Mt Vinson. Once I’ve done that I’ll shift my focus to the next climb. And if I make it to the end, I’ll let you know how I feel then.
Step by step.
A. Because I want to. Does it have to be any more complicated than that?
There seems to be this perception that if you have an ambitious goal you need to have a sophisticated explanation with some higher purpose as to why you want to do it. Can’t you do it just because you want to? Why over complicate it?
Yes, through this project I am aiming to raise awareness and funds for SpinalCure Australia and Surf Life Saving WA but I won’t deny the fact that I am also doing it for me. I am doing it because it has been a long term dream and something I simply want to do.
For me I am happy when I am in the hills. I get enjoyment and accomplishment from the challenge that climbing presents. And strangely I get satisfaction from the suffering. I want to test myself to my limits physically and mentally and see what I am capable of, and I can’t do that sitting at home.
However, if you want a better answer, George Mallory’s explanation really resonates with me. George Mallory led the 1924 British Everest Expedition. He was last seen high on the mountain still heading up. Some believe he may have been the first person to summit Everest but sadly he never made it back down so it remains one of climbing’s greatest mysteries. But prior to the expedition he responded to the question of “why” with the following:
“The first question you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘what is the use of climbing Mt Everest?’ and my answer must be at once, ‘it is no use’. There is not the slightest prospect of gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purpose of aviation. But otherwise, nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single piece of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in a man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself, upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheet joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” George Mallory
Next stop for me is Antarctica. I’ll be out of normal communication range but you can follow my progress on my live GPS Tracker: https://plainadventures.com.au/live-tracking/
“Go with the decision that will make for a great story”.
Donations: Through Project 7in4 I am raising awareness and funds for SpinalCure Australia and Surf Life Saving WA. To donate please follow the link here https://plainadventures.com.au/giving-back/#donations.
Join In: If you’d like to join in and be part of Project 7in4, I am running an Everest Base Camp Trek coinciding with my Everest climb in April. Click here for further information: https://plainadventures.com.au/giving-back/#ebc-trek
Live Tracking: To follow my progress live click here: https://plainadventures.com.au/live-tracking/#live-tracking