The next day, November 10, we climbed the rest of the way to high camp, where we stayed until the following morning so we could make our attempt on the summit. This day was memorable because of the increased communication among the guides and the blind. The weather was superb with no rain or wind to hinder us. We were truly blessed with good conditions.
Again we navigated the route we had already blazed. When we reached the turnaround point we had used the day before, we kept on climbing, this time to our goal of high camp. We ditched the trekking poles in climbing the more “technical” areas. This was not easy for me with my bad arm. Those familiar with my situation know that I have poor circulation and dexterity in my left arm due to my injuries in Iraq. It was a long day of hiking and climbing but we indeed made it to high camp.
The porters had set up camp and all we had to do was move into our tents. The night was filled with a combination of chitchat and snoring. Some slept great while others didn’t catch a wink. The fact that I heard both chitchat and snoring is evidence that I did not sleep well. Although many complained of altitude sickness, I did not have the symptoms they had, which were nausea, stomach pain, and headache. I believe I slept poorly mostly because my feet were so cold.
“Summit Day” was also Veterans Day, November 11. Everyone awoke to a chilly morning. My hands and feet were even colder after I left the tent. Because the air is thinner at a high altitude, there is less oxygen in the body, making it more difficult to breathe and do strenuous activities. I knew this before but now I was experiencing it. I also got hit with the fact that a lack of oxygen also makes one’s limbs colder.
I knew that the best thing to do was to get moving but, at the same time, I thought of going no further and making high camp my personal summit. Erik and Jeff talked me out of it. The reason I thought of stopping was that I couldn’t feel my left arm.
I did my best to hold onto the trekking pole and climb with the rest of the group. Slowly but surely the sun rose and it became warmer. We reached an area where our lead guide, Hector, set up ropes to help us climb the steep rock face.
In the distance I could hear faint shouts and screams. Some of the teams had made it to the top already! The radios carried by some would crackle, and I could hear crying and the sharing of the experience of being at the summit. It was so close now for me. There was no turning back.
My own guide, Alfredo, then led me to the top. I stood there with everyone else as the sun rose out of the clouds. It was truly an amazing daybreak on Veterans Day.
Thank you for taking the time to learn of my great experience. I hope everyone will reach for their dreams and goals on every scale and at every level, as we did on this marvelous trip. Live your life to the fullest and never give up!
Anniversary Activities Bring
Old Farms History to Life
A member of the BVA Board of Directors, its Executive Director, and a founding member of the organization all participated in the 65th anniversary of Avon Old Farms Army Convalescent Hospital, birthplace of the Blinded Veterans Association just months after the hospital began operating.
A communitywide celebration, hosted by the Avon Historical Society and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3272, was held November 22 at the Avon Senior Center. Attending were Tom