Thursday, 17 June 2010

17th June- One month on and adapting to life beyond the big E

I'm sitting here in my room, trying to sort out kit and bits and pieces from the expedition- prayer flags, my scarf from llama geshe, the poster that Alli and Kritika made me after the summit- so many little trinkets which just seem too overwhelming to put in a box and be forgotten with.

Holding a little piece of rock that i took from just below the summit, i can't believe that this time a month ago i was standing on top of the world. I love this piece of rock- it looks so boring and non-descript, but it is from a place that so many hold dear to their hearts- people who might never even see Everest that appreciate the history and significance of our planets highest point.

People keep asking- 'what's it like to be back?', i will often say 'fantastic, amazing!, or i might tell the truth and say that it really, really hurts. For a long time i couldn't get to grips with why i was so despressed, i am back home with my loved ones, the pressure off my shoulders and the sun is shining- i should be over the moon, right?

I realised that simply- i had lost a part of me when i left that mountain. I can still remember the sherpas faces as i peered out of the chopper before it whisked us away. I can still remember the vivid sunrises- especially on summit day, when we looked down on the horizon and saw the orange sun suddenly burst into view and flood the valleys below with golden light. Mostly, i can remember the laughter and banter in the mess tent- we ate three meals a day together for 6 weeks. We had become like family.

I suppose it is like the nostalgia that anyone gets when they return from a great holiday and have to face reality. The odd thing is, i have never felt more content, more happy to just 'be' than before the summit. That kind of contentment is like being at 'one' i suppose, i have never felt that state of wholeness before and never since. It is wierd because at that point the pressure of not knowing was huge- on Everest you set yourself up for failure as the odds are against you, but there was something telling me to be still, to do what i had come to do- the rest is in Gods hands.

For anyone thinking about attempting an ascent themselves, i would say do it- but do it for the right reasons. it was such a shame to hear of some climbers calling it 'purgatory'. Others saying it was like a chain around their necks, that they HAD to summit before they could go on and do other things. Everest woke something up inside me- from the moment the thought came into my head that i could do it, it has never stopped inspiring me and giving me a reason to work harder, do better and strive to be the best.

It is not just a mountain- it is the country, the people, the climbing, the history- but most importantly, it is what you learn about yourself- about what you're made of. And it's not just Everest that can give you that- Manaslu for me had an equal effect.

People ask what have i learnt from my experience. A lot, and mostly about myself. Mostly- you learn what your flaws are, you learn your weaknesses and how you react to situations. Oddly, i didn't realise what my weaknesses were until i returned- i am terrible at emotion, terrible at communicating properly and lack empathy. For me, returning to normality was the most pressure i have ever been under- and my adjustment back to reality has upset a lot of people.

I have learnt that being outdoors, having a physical challenge, looking after oneself and having time to think is when i feel most alive. Being back home, i am really struggling to work out who i am- Everest has changed so much of my perspective.

I know that these words are simply that of a person grieving, and that in time i will be able to allow the joys of returning home to overwhelm the feeling of sadness and loss of knowing that a year and a halfs hard work and dreaming is now all over. Only look back if that's where you want to go- now is the time to look forward to the next challenge, to train harder and become a better person in pursuit of the next dream.


To all those out there who are fathers, or about to become fathers (Kenton!)- Happy Fathers day to you.

My Dad was for a long time the only person who supported and believed that i could climb Everest. When most of my friends and family were scared that i would die and didn't want me to go, he would say to me: 'it's YOUR dream Bonnie, i'll do as much as i can to help you'. And he did, without him i would never have been able to do what i have done. My dream was to call him from the summit- a lot of my motivation came from the idea that i would call my dad from the top of the world. Unfortunatly it wasn't meant to be. He recieved a text message from Kenton instead!

So Dads, support your kids in whatever they want to do- trust in their passion and do what you can to help them along the way. My dad is my biggest inspiration- the hardest working person i have ever known. I am one of 6 and i know that if each and every one of us wanted to climb Everest he would find a way to support us all. If i can be like him when i become a parent, then i will be happy.

So even if your kids don't show it- they admire you more than you can imagine. You're our taxis, our bank balance, our providers, but most of all- you are our heros.

Love you dad x