by Ben Clark
Jon and I feel stronger than ever. Our spirits are up, our sense of adventure is high, and today we departed for basecamp to begin the summit climb. I love moving in the mountains. The first moment was incredibly invigorating.
The sun highlighted the Southeast ridge. I waved goodbye to our cook staff, I turned.
Then I rolled my ankle in the sand — with a 60-pound pack on. I wasn’t 120 paces out of camp. I hit the ground and knew immediately that everything would be okay. Well, almost everything. Well, maybe not the ankle right then. Oh man. Shit, it feels like it snapped in half.
I rolled my pack off and the first wave of nausea hit me. I stood up and collapsed. Ahhh hell. I walked 10 feet and when the shock wore off, I felt the heat of the sun all over my body again and I sat down. I knew then–tomorrow will be a better day for climbing this mountain. Maybe the next day…
Does it hurt? Yeah. Will it go away? Yeah. Am I upset? No. It’s my body. I can deal with this thing. Jon has me on a constant rotation of ice and Tylenol, elevation and stepping around. He and I both come with the prerequisite skills and experience to deal with all things short of breaks. But in between icing sessions the swelling comes back… It’s big. I want to cry, it’s not the pain. I can not stand an end like this, I will fight. I will have to.
If there is one thing I know, it’s that I want it to get better and it will because of that. As my manual therapist Katie Choate has told me with each near miss over the last four years, wanting to be healthy is the best treatment for anything. She should know, I’ve pinched a sciatic nerve and done a whole expedition with a misaligned knee. I want to be healthy. Now is when my super stiff plastic ski boots can shore that bad boy up too… If I can just get up the morraine.
I’m a little scared, as I think anyone would be. Jon and I did everything right this year, except I blew that one step. It’s up to the powers that be and my body now. Time is a factor but too early to call. Our weather window should hold. I’ll be giving it a go. Extra days down low will only aid our acclimitization.
It’s only noon… The day is beautiful.
Live the dream, this nightmare will pass.