The 2023 Everest spring season is over, and most of the climbers are back home with their families. They’re providing an intimate look at their experiences, sharing tears, laughs and holding hands as their loved one reveals their true story.
Often the stories are difficult, as no one likes to see their partner in pain. Yet the true emotions come through in their eyes as they describe seeing a dead body or being told the summit push is canceled because of winds. And they also share the joy of the summit. While one climbed, the other stayed home, often wondering.
Summit Coach client, Asher Perez, summited Mt. Everest in May with Phil Crampton’s Altitude Junkie team. His wife, Elianna Perez stayed home with their one-year-old daughter, wondering. After all, this spring was the deadliest season in history on Everest with seventeen deaths. This is her story.
My Husband Left Me and Our One-year-old Daughter Alone for Six Weeks So He Could Climb Mount Everest … And We’re Doing Just Fine
By Elianna Perez
“I would never let my husband do something like that.” That seems to be the most common phrase I hear when I tell people that my husband Asher is gone for six weeks to climb a mountain.
Once I delve a little deeper and explain he’s climbing Mount Everest, I usually see a little excitement, a few “Oh wow, so cool,” and a bunch of “He’s crazy!”
“But I still wouldn’t let him do it,” they end with.
The word “let” is what bothers me. Do we really feel that we control our partners so much that we can make decisions for them?
Don’t get me wrong, leaving for six weeks is a lot, especially when you’re leaving behind an overactive one-year-old. I’m no saint, and it does bother me. But I would never tell my husband he can or can’t do this. He’s his own person, and I don’t control him, just like I’m my own person, and he doesn’t control me.
Joining together in marriage means we’re in a partnership, but we’re not in charge of each other. We’re each individual people with our own individual talents and needs.
Is it easy spending six weeks alone? Yes and no.
Sometimes I feel it is easier without him. That’s why so many people stay single, right? I don’t have to clean up after him, I can make whatever I want for dinner, I can keep the light on as late as I want at night, I don’t have to hear his alarm in the morning that he puts on snooze at least four times, and there are no disagreements. Everything is done my way.
But in other ways, it’s hard.
Sometimes, I get overwhelmed taking care of my daughter while simultaneously running my own business and simultaneously overseeing a remodeling project in our house. There are days when she wakes up at 5:00 AM, won’t nap, and is insanely energetic. I get tired, really tired, and I can’t turn to my husband and tell him he’s on duty. I can’t just take a nap. I have to push through and be there for my baby because I’m the only one who can.
My husband was on the mountain for Mother’s Day, so I didn’t get flowers or a special brunch as a family. I spent the day with my daughter and my mother, and that’s what the day is really about, but I still missed him.
We’ve had full weeks where we were able to video chat every day, twice a day (yes, there’s internet on certain parts of Everest). Those weeks were amazing. He was doing his thing, and I was doing mine, and we were able to connect at the start and end of each day. But then there are full weeks where we can’t communicate at all. He’s climbing towards the summit to acclimate or attempting the summit push, and I worry about his safety without updates.
I love hosting people in our home for dinner parties, but I’m holding off until he’s back. He’s encouraged me to do it anyways, but it feels weird to do it without him. I’ve had friends stay for girls’ weekends and an aunt visit, but I don’t want to invite couples and be the only one without my partner. It has made me all the more aware of my single friends out there and how hard it must be for them.
“How are you doing this by yourself for six weeks?! I can barely do bedtime alone,” one friend wrote to me.
For me, taking care of our daughter alone is not the hard part. It’s missing his support and partnership. When he’s home, Asher will often make me a coffee and listen when I want to talk about my day or a particular issue I’m facing. While I don’t NEED those things, I miss it. Nowadays, I’m lucky if we have a one-minute conversation. You don’t realize how much you share with your partner until you can’t anymore.
At 29,032 feet above sea level, Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. Temperatures can drop as low as -76 degrees Fahrenheit, and winds can reach up to 177 miles per hour. It takes an incredible amount of grit, strength and ambition to summit the mountain.
Part of the reason Asher climbs mountains is for self-reflection. He learns to be alone with himself without the distraction of technology and discovers new parts of himself he didn’t know existed. He pushes himself in new ways.
While Asher’s incredible feat of climbing Mount Everest is certainly more adventurous and cool, I, too, am pushing myself in other ways. I’m proving to myself that I am capable. Take care of a one-year-old solo while running a business and overseeing a remodeling of your house? No problem. I can do it all. I may not be climbing Mount Everest but I’m pretty badass for holding down the fort and keeping our lives running without any help.
My husband’s goal is to reach all seven summits. He classifies the seven summits by continent, which means Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount McKinley in North America, Mount Elbrus in Europe, Mount Everest in Asia, Mount Vinson in Antarctica, Mount Aconcagua in South America, and Mount Wilhelm in Australia. He has already sumitted Kilimanjaro, Denali (Mckinley), and Elbrus. That means he just has three mountains left and none as dangerous as Everest. I hope he accomplishes his goal, but I also plan to accompany him to those other destinations with our amazing sassy daughter. I won’t be climbing the mountains, necessarily, but I will be a happy tourist in Australia, Argentina, and Antarctica.
Could I leave for 6 weeks to pursue a passion like this? Yes. My husband would gladly step up. Would I? No. But that’s my choice. I am insanely obsessed with my daughter and I wouldn’t want to leave her during these formative years. I want to be her rock, the person she can count on, who will always be there for her. But it’s a choice I’m consciously making, and I don’t feel stuck.
Does it bother me that he’s climbing Everest? Yes. It’s dangerous. 11 people have already died this year and there are bound to be more.
Do I wish he found another passion? Yes, of course. Do I want him to do this again? Hell no.
But I would NEVER want to squash his passion.
Asher’s life isn’t normal nor easy to deal with, but I accept it. I love that he’s different, has unique interests, and is willing to work hard to achieve his goals. To me, the sexiest quality in a partner is ambition. His pursuit of Everest’s summit personifies that.
Do I support him? 100%. I married Asher, knowing who he was, and I accepted that this was his passion. Despite it being hard, I will always defend him and support his dreams.
I think that’s why our partnership works and why we have a successful relationship. We give each other room to be independent people. We don’t change ourselves to be what the other person wants or expects, we’re just ourselves.
During this period, we’re exemplifying for our daughter what a healthy relationship looks like and the importance of setting ambitious goals and pursuing one’s passions. We’re showing her we’re all capable of more than we think, Whether it’s my husband climbing the tallest mountain in the world despite his fear of heights or me doing solo parenting for six weeks.
Our daughter started walking while Asher was on Everest. It was hard for her to get up on her own two feet and take that first step forward alone without mommy holding her hand. But she did it. Sometimes, she moves too fast out of excitement and ends up falling. I explain to her the importance of taking it slow to ultimately get further. She picks herself back up, starts over, takes another step, and puts one foot in front of the other.
The same thing applies to Asher. To rush to the top of Everest is dangerous and reckless and will result in some sort of fall. He needs to go slowly, cautiously, and take his time to adjust to the altitude and wait for good weather. Is it easy that he’s gone for so long? No. Definitely not. But we’re not rushing. Some days are harder than others, but we’re taking it slow. If we fall, we pick ourselves up and continue. We move on. We keep going. One foot in front of the other. One step at a time.
Elianna Perez currently resides in Hollywood, Florida, with her husband and one-year-old daughter. She is a former CBS National News Producer who now runs her own travel planning and production business, Elianna Mintz Productions, after traveling the world during the pandemic. She can be reached on her Instagram @aroundtheworld_inbabydays.
Thank you, Elianna and Asher.
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If you dream of climbing mountains but are not sure how to start or reach your next level, from a Colorado 14er to Rainier, Everest, or even K2, we can help. Summit Coach is a consulting service that helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals through a personalized set of consulting services based on Alan Arnette’s 25 years of high-altitude mountain experience, including summits of Everest, K2, and Manaslu, and 30 years as a business executive.