Everest

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.

Tired, for the first time in my life

Being exhausted is not bad for me, being tired is. Because I had never been truly physically tired. I noticed this when climbing Island Peak. I carried in addition to my own gear also Jessica's stuff, crampons, harness, climbing stuff like jumar, carabiniers, descender, ice axe, drinks and food for 12 hours.

After several hours at 5600 meters, around 3 A.M. I noticed that Jessica looked very tired and for the first time in my life I noticed that I was also.

I have participated in really many different endurance sport competitions. When I do, I always take the most serious sprint to the finishing line. I have been exhausted and felt like I will die, but I have never been tired. Always after some breaths and some moments I have felt I could do the whole thing again.

 The Island in the middle of the ice, Island Peak

The Island in the middle of the ice, Island Peak

Now at the steep slopes of Island Peak I was tired. I wasn't sure whether I could do it. And the terrain changed really to a most challenging one. One step, 10 centimeters wrongly placed, and you could have been dead. Finally I persuaded Jessica to turn back down. She is no mountain girl with an obsession to summit. She had been really brave though. I was admiring her going all the two weeks. Now she was nice enough to agree and bravely went down alone in the darkness.

 Up there, hand on the rope, harness attached.

Up there, hand on the rope, harness attached.

I continued to the summit. The backpack was lighter now because we stored Jessica's stuff in a rock-hollow. I was the only one summiting with heavy Everest +8000 boots. That was hard, but not impossible. I was the second in the team back to the local base camp, even carrying back Jessica's stuff from the hollow. When coming to the tent I noticed that I was really, really tired. We were supposed to continue dawn after an hour to a lower village, Chukkung, 4700 meters. I thought that I would have to go on strike and rest for a while.

It is terrible to be tired that way when you don't recover and regain your energy. I needed to live for 50 years to understand that. I feel so sorry for all the people I have forced to push on and continue when hiking, skiing, swimming, running, paddling or rowing. Tommi, my kids and most of my best friends must have suffered from that. Being tired is the most terrible feeling I could imagine. That scared me.

The journey ended happily, for my part anyway. I ended up using a magic potion. Leader Food my sponsor, had provided me with something called "Nitro boosters". A powder to be added to a cup of water. 60 minutes and you start running. When the magic powder started effecting me, I passed the couple of men in our team, by running. Jessica was laughing out loud and the men, you should have seen their faces!

I continued running to Chukkung, normally 2 hours, now done in one. But that wasn't really fair. Leader, though, says that the drink I took is totally legal and doping free stuff. But I think you shouldn't use something like that too often to maintain that kind of a wow-effect. I never drink even any caffeinated drinks, coffee, tea, coca-cola or energy drinks, so the effect must be stronger on me.

Johanna Gustafsson – the Everest project