The mountain is unforgiving. Last night, although I arrived at camp feeling strong and confident of my health, mountain sickness slowly began to tear down my body. I fell quite ill. I barely ate dinner and went straight to bed at 5:00. Aribo, my guide, told me I had to clear my head and get a fresh perspective on my thoughts. He brought the conversation back to the Kua Huru and that if I would not think about the sickness and rather just refresh the mind, I would feel better in the morning. I asked why only some get mountain sickness and where does it come from, he replied – “Only God knows.”

This morning I feel much better. I dreamt about winning tennis tournaments, going out on dates(he he he), walks with my mom to the lake and hockey games with dad.

Looking back at this experience, I am slowly discovering the ways of the mountain that you must simply accept. If you blow your nose, it will bleed. You do and will sleep 12 hours a day. Don’t worry about time. When you hear the birds, it is time to get up, you won’t oversleep. Lastly, everything will put you out of breathe, even putting your clothes on in the morning.

The time has come. In less than 24 hours, God willing, I will summit. Tonight we will sleep at heights higher than Mt. Everest base camp. We will wake up at 12 and then six hours to the top. I am no longer braced with fear. I now realize I did not come here to summit, but to spend one week with the mountain. I have already learned so much from my Kua Huru. Hero’s are made everyday and forgotten the next. It will not change my life if I make it or not. My life has already been changed. It is too cold to write anymore, must get warm before we leave for Barafu.

I cant believe that I am here. It was a long, hard and very technical ascent today. There were just so many massive rock cliffs. We went straight up thousands of feet in just a few hours. But this is it, literally 9 hours away from possibly the most grueling and challenging thing I will ever do. I am worn, dirty and simply in a state I have never been in. Literally for hours today I was able to put my mind to sleep. I would think of nothing and just enjoy the trans. Now here, I look at myself and I am a mess. My feet are sore and developing some type of fungus. My shirt has not been taken off in 3 days and my finger nails, they are horrendously black. My hair is on the brink of dreading and even my sunglasses get stuck in the knots. But what else would you expect after 4 days on the mountain, 50 kilometers later and now at nearly 16,000 feet. As barbaric as I feel, it really doesn’t hit home until I watch my self eat – digging my fingers into the food and carelessly dripping on my clothes, quickly shoveling it in. But I can think of nothing right now except this present moment. My Kua Huru has been amazing. On our final ascent today it began to snow, not like Christmas though, for it was not a wonderland, but a rock, volcanic moonscape. Now as I lie in my tent and wait for midnight, I can hear the tent reflecting the snow.

Even though I have discussed the concept of self talk with my dad for over a year now and we have written and written about it, I have learned so much more about it, as I have experienced it on such a raw level. If we worry and wrap our mind around the negative and pessimistic, it is much like a self full-filling prophecy. I think of the many times in life when we use self-talk – transitions, moments of being “stuck”, dilemmas, times of decision – in those times it is imperative to regulate our self talk through the experience, not just towards the end target. In doing so we will become more agile, adaptable and flexible. Worry cant be any part of our self talk. Worry is a focus on the future and what bad might befall you. Reality based self talk is a focus on the here and the now and only that will free your mind in ways that make the journey and experience a moment of learning, not a block to potential.