My training for Everest has exceeded my expectations in just how tough it has been on my heart and mind as well as my body. It’s a knockout, I’m afraid.
I actually love Muay Thai. Just two months ago I could not have imagined myself saying that. I was beyond surprised by the fact that I didn’t want to leave Bangkok and stop training: stop getting up at 4:30 am to go for my daily 10 km run in the dark, stop embarrassing myself at the gym with my kitten-punches and chicken-kicks, and my big ass, and my awkwardness. I am terrible at Muay Thai and I know it, but I enjoyed myself so much as I struggled to learn even a little of this martial art, that it almost – almost – didn’t matter. Except, sometimes it did: it hurt when I occasionally made the mistake of lifting my eyes off the ground to see people laugh at me, or when some would sneer at my claims that I was going to become a fighter. Perhaps, I don’t look like a fighter. On the other hand, according to most of my new acquaintances, I also don’t look like a mountaineer or an ice-swimmer.
I had a hard but good time training Muay Thai in Bangkok, sharing the gym space with some of the most amazing currently active nak muays. My trainer was wonderful, strict but fair, and I can’t wait to come back to train and fight under his guidance. I was fortunate to meet many strong and determined people at the camp, and would like to wish them all the best with their progress in Muay Thai and any other pursuits they follow. I am very grateful for this throughly enriching experience to everyone, who shared it with me: to those, who became my friends, and made it easier, but also to those, who made it a little harder than it need have been. You have all taught me lessons required for the biggest ‘fight’ of my life so far – this against every possible human weakness, on Chomolungma.
Do I feel ready for the challenge of climbing without oxygen this time? I believe, I do mentally, but my recurring circulation issues, sickness, extreme exhaustion, or just a strong gut feeling could all force me to use the gas on summit push after all, in spite of my current plans. I will use it, if I must. After all, in climbing Everest, with or without O2, I am merely aiming to do something that would make me stronger and wiser, and happy with myself, if only for few minutes on the summit; something that would make my friends and loved ones proud of me; something that would help raise money for a worthy cause. I hope, I am never so vain as to do anything just to make it into record books. I have not danced/dived/swam/fought/climbed, nor am I climbing now for regalia or fame: I do what I do out of love of life and genuine curiosity.
I am sorry that this season’s coverage of my preparation has been scarce. I have had very little time for writing, training intensively while continuing to work. My regular readers will know that I do not post many updates while I am away on the mountain, but usually make up for my prolonged absences by writing expedition accounts upon returning to Kathmandu. This season I might tweet occasionally from base camp. You can follow me here: https://twitter.com/Liudmila_M
I would like to end this last pre-expedition post by dedicating my climb to:
Christophe Manfroi, a friend who should have been climbing Chomolungma this season, but was lost in an accident in the Alps. ‘Come with me where no one else would follow…’
Sitsongpeenong Muay Thai Camp fighters, trainers and students, who made me feel like I was ready for this challenge.
And, as always, to my courageous and beautiful mother.
This is it! The expedition leaves Kathmandu on the 2nd of April, and I hope to return from the Everest region at the end of May. Drop by if you’re curious to read about my attempt to climb Chomolungma for the second time. More importantly, take care of yourselves, have a beautiful and interesting spring and be happy always!