Climbing Island Peak was probably one of the hardest things that I've done in my life, physically and mentally! When someone, whose job it was to put 140 pounds of kit on their back, walk the roads in sixty degree heat and go find I.E.D's (improvised explosive devices), says that something was hard, then it was HARD.
When we walked up to high camp, we were scrambling over shale, which was hard going in climbing boots and when we reached the camp, it was very cold and windy, as we had the highest bivouac camp on the mountain to give us the greatest chance to summit. It was beautiful, but everyone was just so tired that we all just wanted to eat and go to bed.
The walk up to the glacier the next day was tough going, as I couldn't catch my breath. It was amazing as we walked roped along the glacier though, because on our right was a huge crevasse. We saw tiny ones on the Athabasca glacier during our training, but nothing that big. It's amazing that something that simple could be that beautiful, and yet so deadly.
And then we reached the head wall. My first thought was, "Where's the escalator?" But the good thing was that we could see the summit and it reminded me of the whole reason why we were there. It was my motivation to get to the top.
The best way I can describe climbing the summit ridge, is that it was similar to climbing the CN Tower in Toronto. You think that you're at the top and then you realise that you've another fifteen feet to climb. I wish I could say that reaching the summit took my breath away, but at that altitude there is no breath to take away.
It's just settling in what we've achieved. We were walking down today and I looked back at Island Peak and I thought, "I've conquered you!"
I've seen the desert, I've been in the rainforest and I've been under the ocean, so I'm wondering what's next for me now. Maybe the arctic or something! Maybe the Caribbean? Yep, definitely somewhere warmer...
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