Considering all the drama with flights and airport closures I was really happy to reach day one of the climb but absolutely bloody petrified about what was to come. I had done my research, so I knew that day one wasn’t anywhere near as hard as the remaining days. I had a friend who had climbed with his family a few years ago, and although we weren’t doing the same route, he assured me that day one was just like walking up Snowdon and nothing at all to worry about. So I was feeling positive about the day ahead and was ready and rearing to go.
The coach took us to the start point and we arrived ready to sign in mid-morning. A quick toilet stop and water collection, we gathered together for a couple of last photos and said goodbye to life as we know it (well at least for the next 6 days) The first part of the climb was pretty ok, we walk walking at quite a steady pace, up a hill, all chatting a way about our interests, books we had read and music we liked. We had a toilet stop after about an hour and a half and then were told we would be stopping for lunch shortly. When we arrived at our lunch stop, I expected to be handed a butty and maybe some crisps. What we were actually greeted with was a long picnic table, complete with a cloth, a carton drink laid out for each of us and camping chairs. This was totally not what I was expecting, but boy was I pleased. We really were going to be looked after on this trip.
After lunch we carried on with our journey and the route became steeper. Not unmanageable but it wasn’t always the easier to have a full scale conversation with people whom you had only really known for a day or 2. It was a good opportunity to have a chat and walk alongside some of the guys I hadn’t spoken to that much and find out a bit about them. Unfortunately, doing that meant that I found myself towards the back of the group, meaning that if I did have to stop for a minute, I didn’t really have anyone to fall back with. This became problematic about an hour away from our first nights camp.
Left in my own thoughts, I began to doubt what I was doing and if in fact I could do it. One of the other girls must have been thinking the same as me and I could see she had a few tears in her eyes. Less than 5 minutes later, I could feel them starting to fill up in mine too. Frantically I tried to stop myself, particularly as I was very near to the rest of the group and the last thing I wanted them to see was me crying when we hadn’t even finished the first day. What a wimp! It was all too late though, even though I turned myself away, I knew I’d been seen and then it was my turn to set someone else off, as I could see their eyes filling up too. Thankfully we all managed to pull ourselves together and continue on with the journey.
Unbeknown to us, we actually were very near to the first nights camp, and once we have arrived, we were allocated a tent and all met in the mess tent to trays of popcorn, and steaming flasks of tea and coffee. An evening meal soon followed, and despite the dark and unknown area, I found myself enjoying my evening and really confident about the next day. Following a briefing by our head guide, Herman, we made our way back to our tents, ready for an early night and an early start the next day.
That day I overcame my fear of long drop toilets, peeing in a bush and well, y’know, going the toilet on a mountain. Oh and I’d survived the climb: day one.