Published August 06, 2010 | ©Cisco WebEx 2010
9,000 Feet of Air Below Me
We were so close but also so far away - fromanybody or anything. I had no real way tounderstand all this. I just remember myhands and my knees wanting to move awayfrom Rob and crawling along the last part of this ridge. It's an extraordinary ridge whereyou can kind of see in the shadow there, itdrops straight down pretty vertically forabout 9,000 feet down to the plains of Tibetbelow.It's the highest, most exposed ridge in the world. You're climbing on top of this frozen waterwith nothing under your feet, no
at one point I was resting an ice axe between my boots and it just went
[makes ripping sound]
and pulling it out and seeing this hole of air - 9,000 feetbetween my toes and thinking, "This is a bad place to be climbing right now."Eventually, the end of this ridge coming down the bottom edge of what they call the HillaryStep is a 35-, 40-foot almost vertical ice wall that leads on to the final gentle summit slope. It'sone of those obstacles that if you can get over, nothing's gonna stop you from the top. You'd doit on your belly if you have to, it has that feel about it.
The Top of the World
I remember starting out this thing having this real fear that I'd get so close but this would bethe one thing that would stop me. It was like things I had climbed so many times at sea level,but at this height there's nothing working and just having no strength.Eventually after about 40 minutes of seeing the lip above me, throwing an ice axe over andover, wriggling and lying in this deep powder snow and clearing it away from in front of mymask, and then just looking out and not being able to comprehend the gentle, gentle slope thatfor the first time, indicated the roof of the world.I remember this adrenaline beginning to fire in and feeling it very busily pumping around mybody - it's like filling your veins and your muscles and it gives you this sudden strength. But thenalso that weakness that it leaves you with. You just can't sustain that sort of intensity. Iremember crying inside my mask. Crying because for me that little, well not entirely little, partof me ever since the hospital I'd never really believed that I could actually be here right now.That part of me was slowly being silenced.At 7:22 that morning, two of us from our team arrived on the summit of Everest.