We’re still musing about whether to add Chimborazo to our Cotopaxi climb this summer.
Last night we went to a combination birthday/retirement party for a dear friend. Among other presents – was an URN. Not an urn for a plant, or to carry water or wine, and it wasn’t even Grecian – rather it was the repository for ashes after the inevitable end. And what made it even more remarkable – it was a USED urn. I did not inquire too deeply of the circumstances that had led to the removal of one set of ashes and the apparent preparation for another occupant.
Tonight we had dinner with another old friend who was singing the praises of the Galopagos Islands. And one of my yoga buddies wore his Galopagos Islands t-shirts to yoga today. What I haven’t mentioned before here is that Chimborazo isn’t our only possible trip extension – Galopagos is there also.
Connection with urn? Back to the only live once phenomenon. On the urn – as John Keats told us – the characters are immortalized in time and art. The husband and I clearly aren’t going to be. Life is now or never. So now we’ve added a third decision point – we KNOW Cotopaxi is in – I have already submitted my application although the husband is dilly dallying with his. But now – no extension, Chimborazo – which would stretch mind, body and soul, or Galopagos? I should be happy to have such first world problems. Thoughts, fellow travelers?
As I sit here on a weekend, waiting for the plumber to take his interminable time to arrive (three hours late, thus far), we have some decision-making to do. As hoped, the work schedule cleared up, freeing the way to commit to some June 2015 dates for our next mountain climbing endeavor. And I’ve already contacted the guide company that successfully led us up Elbrus, so that’s done.
But here’s where the itch of mountain climbing – or you could say hubris – sets in. It turns out for an additional four days and a few more dollars, we not only could climb Cotopaxi, but also climb Chimborazo – the highest mountain in Ecuador and one that reaches my long dreamed of goal of a 20,000 foot mountain. Well, long dreamed of if you count 2011 as a long time ago, since that’s when all this started. This would mean acclimatization hikes up Guagua Pichincha and Illiniza Norte, followed by Cotopaxi at 19,348 feet and three days, later – Chimborazo. At 20,564 feet, Chimborazo is harder than Cotopaxi. It’s one degree south of the equator, and because of the bulge of the earth, is the farthest point away from the earth’s core and the closest point to the sun. Hubris is the right word. Think Icarus.
I hadn’t really considered doing the extension. But then yesterday, in the midst of multiple levels of work related issues and general lawyerly stresses – and perhaps in reaction thereto (what a good, lawyerly phrase) – I suddenly found myself saying, “hell, yes.” Not out loud. But a lawyerly phrase, nonetheless.
If not now, then when? I’ll be 54 by next June. There’s no doubt that if we make this commitment it will require the highest level of training either the husband or I have tried to achieve. Sometimes mountains – and summits of all sorts – whether at work or at play – throw the gauntlet down before you and just ask to be climbed, and climbed hard. But I still think I better have a serious talk with the guide company.