Climbing is a sport that is not only physically and mentally demanding. It is a sport that also demands considerable psychological and emotional preparation, especially on how to keep your emotional state sane when waiting out for good weather. How do you keep your emotional state a healthy one in the absence of all creature comforts and being in the realm of constant physical discomforts such as the cold, the altitude, the unfamiliar food and not seeing your loved ones…
Even in this harsh environment, we are not short of love and concern.. Mother’s love was best expressed in the form of physical food delicacies, such as Joanne’s mother painstakingly prepared one-month-before-the expedition cooked ‘hae bee hiam’ and fried ikan bilis to go with our daily porridge. Despite Yihui’s mother strong disapproval of mountaineering, her mum still prepared her favourite ‘hae bee hiam’. My mother also went out of the way to buy quality salted fish for my high camp food.
For this trip, our team is most fortunate to have Dr Mok Ying Jang (our expedition doctor) and Mr Lim Kim Boon (our base camp manager) who have tirelessly showered their fatherly love onto us. Dr Mok, could not have showed it better by whipping up local delicaies such as bak ku teh and longan and red dates dessert. He kept nagging us to eat more red dates as they will generate more red blood cell production. Kim Boon was the champion when he surprised us with a complete make over of the dining tent while we were away for our first acclimitisation cycle in Camp 1. He fixed up the leaky patches of the tent, rearranged our medical supplies and food stash and even put in nice touches such as putting a ‘Welcome home’ plaque and plucked matching purple flowers for table display…
Back home, we have Esther whom has been tirelessly co-ordinating our email support. She never failed to remind us that there are people thinking of us. Here’s what she emailed us:
“A SONG FOR YOU ALL
sorry, i know i shouldn’t send heavy emails, but i went for a musical recently and this song reminded me of you all. it’s sth along the lines of “come back when it’s cold” but in chinese “tian leng jiu hui lai”. i’m not saying you guys shd come home when it’s cold (then you might as well turn around now!), but i found this song very touching, and want you all to know that there is someone, many of us thinking of you all through the cold you’re facing there…”
Although I feel grateful and heartened that we are never alone in this world, I cannot help but feel a bit down the day before. Especially when my team mates played the song ‘Love, Me’, it reminded me of my grandmother. Throughout this trip, there were moments when I grieved alone. I wonder is it a case when devoid of the daily busy working schedule, where your life has been reduced to the basics revolving around eating, sleeping and climbing, that one has more time and awareness for such matters of the heart.
I guess that we should always keep in sight of what really matters and not let a change of environment or circumstances remind us of what not to take granted for.. Nothing puts it more aptly than Collin Raye in his song; ‘In this Life’..part of the lyrics go like this:
Every mountain that I have climbed
Every raging river I cross
You were the treasure that I long to find
Without your love, I will be lost
Let the world stop turning
Let the sun stop burning
Let them tell me love is not worth going through
If it all falls apart
I will know deep in my heart
The only dream that mattered has come true
In this life, I was loved by you.