Adventures of a mother of 7 – Johanna Gustafsson

Because it's there!

When 8 years old I learned about Mount Everest, and ever since I have dreamed about climbing up there. When I became middle-aged and sensible I thought that it's impossible.

2012 when I turned 50 I suddenly got this crazy idea to fulfill my childhood dream. Now, almost 2 years later, after studying, training, researching & finding solutions, it seems possible!

If things go well I will summit in May 2014, if things don't go well I will hopefully do it another year. If you want to follow me vie e-mail updates you can subscribe to them.

Mountains and an obsession

Mountains and an obession are a dangerous together. The mountaineers who have made a certain mountain their obsession are all dead, starting from Georg Mallory, my idol. That would be easy for me too. to have an obsession, summiting Everest.  But I will save it for some more years, then...

Turning back was kind of a natural decision for me. I have practised it mentally and also in reality so much. When I for the second time arrived to the Everest Base camp, after summiting Island Peak, the first view was a helicopter with a dead body hanging underneath it. At that moment I made my decision to turn back. I  didn't want to ruin the spirit for other team members, so I slept a couple of nights in the base camp before announcing my quitting.

But turning back wasn't easy. For a year and half every day I have tried to imagine how it is to climb up a steep mountain above 8000 meters. Many nights I have woke up to a nightmare,  I am in 7800 meters, camp 4, in a tent, in the middle of the night, it's -30 to -40 degrees cold, a heavy wind, total darkness. My two sherpa guides, Pasang and Mingma are trying to get me to act faster. I have my down suit on plus lots of other clothes, trying to get out from my -40 sleeping bag. I am struggling to put on my harness and crampons. We should be going on already say the sherpas, vite vite. I am so tired and try to breath. Every movement is like slow motion movie. The most diffiult and dangerous parts of the route are ahead.

Daytime I have been dreaming of climbing up a steep rim, the sun is almost rising, every breath is really exhausted, but that feels great. When dreaming I still didn't know how it is when you are dead tired (I know more about that now, I will write about that separately), I never have been as tired as I would have been up there.

But now the dreams must stay as dreams for some time. Maybe I start collecting money again. Next 30 years and I will have enough. I will be 80 + , not so many persons depending on me, not so many missing me. I will be free to die in the mountains, if I decide to take a heavy risk. What could be a better way to leave?

Johanna Gustafsson – the Everest project