Virtual Everest 2020: Leaving Home

The end of March and beginning of April is an exciting time for Everest aspirants. Their duffle bags are packed, plane reservations confirmed, and training completed. All that’s left is to get to Kathmandu or Lhasa.

Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas is a joint project of Alan Arnette and several global guide companies. Our objective is to entertain Everest fans during the Coronavirus spring closure and raise money to help the Climbing Sherpas who are not working this spring. While there will be accurate historical references, this series is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Please join us by making a donation using the links below plus by adding your Everest experiences in the comment section.

Leaving Home

The kids are in bed; the house is quiet; now is the time.

“Honey, I want to talk to you,” She said in a soft voice. “Sure, let’s sit on the couch,” he responded, expecting a discussion about one of their children’s schoolwork.

Holding his hand, She looked in his eyes and said, “I want to climb Everest.”

He fought to hold onto his emotions. He knew of his wife’s love of mountains before they were married. She had climbed Rainier in her early twenties, Aconcagua in her thirties and then Denali. She was good. She was safe. She was a natural. But Everest, the highest? Everest, where people die every year? He fought to hold on.

She squeezed his hand gently yet firmly. “You know I’ve always dreamed of this. The kids are in a good place. We are in a good place.” We have the money, and I have time off work …” He interrupted, “You have already talked to your boss?” he said defensively. “No, not yet, but I know I can get it. I wanted to talk to you first – before anyone else.”

He relaxed. She smiled.

That night they crawled into bed, a king-size bed – he flops around a lot. They had their usual hug and goodnight kiss before rolling on their sides, facing away from one another. As She laid with her eyes wide open, She felt him move closer. “Yes. Yes, I will support you in your dream.”

She didn’t need his permission. She needed his support.

The next year was a whirlwind. She trained like there was no tomorrow. He picked up the kids from school as She ran laps up the local hill. As he rolled over at 4 a.m. when the alarm went off, She went for her morning run.
She gave him a loving peck as She came back from her workout with her trainer after work. He cooked the endless chicken breasts, fueling her for the next workout. He agreed, reluctantly, to remove their beloved wine collection to support her training. This was about them, not him, not her.

Each night, they both went to sleep committed yet still uncertain about their bargain.

That Christmas, around the table, She lifted a glass of wine, an exception, for a toast. She looked across the table at him. She looked at her children. She paused as She took a deep breath.

“Kids, I want to tell you something.”

The duffel bags took up most of the room in the minivan. He drove as She carried on the usual conversation with the kids.

They had seen their mom leave before on many business trips.

“OK, you guys behave while I’m gone. OK? I want you to be good for your dad. OK? I will call as much as I can but remember what I told you about satellite phones. Remember?”

Tears welled up as She quickly looked away, avoiding eye contact. She squeezed her husband’s hand. He squeezed back.

The night before, they talked – they talked like they had never have talked. The tears came and flowed freely. No pretense, no tough guy, no tough gal. Real people, real emotions. Brutal honesty. “Honey, if something happens…” He stopped her. “Nothing will happen. I am sure of that.” Yes, but if something does …” her voice trailed off.

She was very thorough; She had signed all the forms, all the legal papers, every contingency was covered. Every base was covered … except for the unexpected.

The hugs at the airport were long. The parking police came over but unexpectedly left as they witnessed the scene. Her children looked at her. “I love you, mom.” “I love you too, sweetie. Mommy will be home soon. You be good like we talked about. OK?” She broke the hugs, knowing that She could never really let go.

With the kids back in the minivan, he looked deeply into his wife’s eyes, her soul, her essence; She looked back. The embrace was long, it was strong, it was full of love.

Nothing was left unsaid.

Climbing Sherpa Support

Who, how much, and how often you donate is a personal decision. Maybe you climbed with one of the guides, or plan to one day. Perhaps you have followed them for years and want to support their Climbing Sherpa team, or maybe you support by geography – Nepali, American, Austrian, British, New Zealand. It’s up to you and will be much appreciated.

My sincere appreciation to those companies who accepted my invitation to join Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas:

For an overview of the Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas, please visit this post.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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