It’s time…. After months of abstract theorizing and speculation, of hard sweat-caked afternoons grinding out another hill run, of chores delayed and last minute bills to pay… it’s time to pack the bags. The situation down at my good friend and climbing partner Kevin Mahoney’s house has seemed down right chill compared to the barely constrained chaos at the Shabin. Thankfully, Kevin’s new garage, the envy of the neighborhood, sports a lofted “man cave” — which has served us well over these last few nights…. Thank goodness for partners with mild obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
Strange reports have been filtering through from Boulder, Colorado and Wilson, Wyoming as well. “Hey, what IS the baggage scene in Qatar, anyways?” Something stirs. And all the while, a dozen timezones and half the world away, we know that it is waiting, shedding a bit more of the monsoon snows with each day… the South Face of Nuptse. This will be my third trip alpine climbing trip to the peaks of the Khumbu; I’m not sure why I am drawn back to the same mountain ranges again and again. I hope it isn’t a lack of imagination. I suspect instead it might have something to do with finding the inner peace and contentment that only comes when you are irrevocably, head-over-heals committed to throwing your best against some overwhelming challenge. Come what may.
Regardless, what I’m thinking about right now is how life takes on a marvelous simplicity once you have a plane to catch. The hours and minutes tick by, until you realize there isn’t time left to do anything else but make sure you don’t forget the essentials and say goodbyes… And then you think that getting on the plane is probably the closest you will ever come to understanding how old mariners must have felt the moment they could no longer see the last hazy smudge of land on the horizon, and had only to contend with the waves and winds of open ocean.
“How many pins did Ben say he was bringing?” Six weeks is a good amount of time; enough time to focus, and, maybe, dig deep enough to find some piece of your full potential. “Fuck it, we can get anything you really need in Namche, anyway.” Janet and I talk about all the traveling we do. Sometimes, we wonder if our lives at home in New Hampshire are artificially stressful because we spend so much of our time here getting ready to leave. Should we start to worry if boarding a plane at the start of an expedition carries the same emotional release that most normal people equate with coming home?
I’m on the 4.30 from Boston to Chicago, then bouncing down to Asheville for one more book presentation. I’ll see Kevin again in Qatar, and Cory and Ben in Kathmandu. And then… the Big Wild waits.