It's time I admit it. I get crushes. I see beautiful faces that are just my type, and I feel an insatiable yearning for them. I take photos, spend hours stalking them on the internet, and borrow books to find out how to approach them. I just want to get out there and spend time on these faces, but still dream about them day and night until I live my fantasy. I'm talking about mountains. What did you think I was talking about?
Some might know of the bigger feats, such as reaching the summits of the 14 peaks that rise above 8,000 meters or summiting the "Big Three" in the Alaska Range (Denali, Sultana, and Begguya, also known as McKinley, Foraker, and Hunter). But one mountaineering list I was completely unaware of, until I was standing on a summit in Scotland, is the Munros.
As soon as we were on the other side, a podgy Kyrgyz man in a crowd of other men watching the clearing of the slide started screaming at me in Russian, too quickly for me to understand. He approached me with his hand raised, as if he were going to hit me in the back of the head, so I flinched and got out of arm's length as quickly as I could. The rest of the crowd, which included military and police officers, didn't even give the situation a cursory glance despite an obvious foreigner about to be whacked in the head.
We hiked across the stream and set up camp for the night at the Onion Field trailhead. The next day, we had absolutely fabulous weather for the hike to Camp 1, and only a few instances where we could not find the trail because of snow. Camp 1 is at about 4400 meters above sea level, which was the highest I had ever hiked to before (this is the elevation of Mt. Elbert in Colorado). Needless to say, I was stoked for everything beyond.
We took our time on the tip of the summit, taking lots of photos and having lots of laughs. I think when you complete an exposed climb like this, there is something psychological about the summit that makes mountaineering become more than a sport or hobby, but as something one cannot live without. I had experienced an even greater relief and stronger positive energy at the summit of Komsomol Peak the summer before after free-soloing the Northwest Face, but this feeling is exponentially increased when the experience is shared with partners, perhaps because other people have overcome the same fears and obstacles, and they too have the electric feeling that only a hard-earned summit in difficult circumstances can provide.