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Climbing blog: Never say never
So, today is the 17th May 2012, two years to the day since I stood at the top of Mount Everest, breaking a British record.
It was one of the most incredible moments of my life – all that doubt and worry, the physical pain and exhaustion – it had all been worth it, I was the highest person on Earth. I fell to my knees in tears, and said a prayer of thanks to the mountain for letting me climb it.
Two days later I sat at the bottom of the icefall – a jumble of ice and crevasses 600m high (and the entry up to Everest) having descended to base camp. I remember vividly taking off my helmet and crampons ‘for the last time’. I then looked up at that deadly mass of teetering ice blocks and gaping crevasses and thought ‘I never have to go up there again – I made it out alive, and now I can go home’.
Well, never say never. Two years after that incredible expedition I am back at base camp and back climbing through the icefall – which this year has claimed a life and suffered itself from massive avalanches as seracs hanging off the west shoulder crash down into it.
In fact, the entire route up the mountains Everest and Lhotse are arguably in bad condition – just this morning three Sherpas were badly injured climbing the Lhotse face. One from a serac collapsing and wiping out a few tents at the already precarious camp 3. He broke his leg and shoulder and has now been airlifted to hospital. The others were hit by rocks coming down from Lhotse’s summit – a head injury being the worst of all.
Amongst this my team and I are pretty much stuck at base camp and we listen out desperately for any tit bits of news as to how the mountain’s condition is developing. We have been off the hill for nearly three weeks whilst we wait for the right weather conditions to attempt a summit bid. I am now a Connect4 obsessive and a few highly competitive games of Monopoly have been played!
I imagine being in the couloir on Lhotse summit day, of reaching the summit and watching the sunrise over Tibet. I think about everything that could go wrong and how I would cope in those scenarios. I imagine myself staying calm, of breathing efficiently, of having a clear head. Of checking and rechecking my safety system on the fast paced descent. I then imagine once more that feeling – the best feeling in the world – of finishing the descent at the bottom of the icefall, taking off my helmet and saying to myself ‘Never again, I made it out alive, and now I can go home’.
Maybe I’ve just got a bug that’s too much to shake. Despite all this waiting, there aren’t many places I’d rather be than primed for a summit attempt on a tough 8000m peak. Apart from maybe at the top of it!
So my next blog is most likely to be post summit attempt, once the dye has been cast. To all you Sportsisters – wish me luck and thanks for reading. B.
About Bonita’s blog
Bonita Norris was a disability assistant from Berkshire when, in 2008, she decided she wanted to climb Mount Everest. Her first experience of high-altitude mountaineering was in September 2009, when she became the youngest woman in history to reach the false summit of Mount Manaslu in the Himalaya (eighth highest mountain in the world).
In May 2010, Bonita achieved her dream and became the youngest British woman to stand on the summit of Mount Everest. Having recently returned from climbing Mount Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain the world, she has also visited the North Pole and has plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in the not too distant future.
Now a member of outdoor brand Karrimor’s elite athlete team, Bonita’s story is about making an impossible dream a reality- she had never climbed a mountain when she set Everest as her goal back in 2008, and is now a passionate climber taking part in expeditions all over the world. Besides climbing, Bonita’s fitness interests extend to trail running, biking, rock climbing and even slacklining.
She has already broken numerous mountaineering records, including becoming the youngest British female to have climbed multiple peaks over 8000m, and continues to further her climbing experience and is always on the lookout for the next big challenge.