When I began researching for the Nepal trip of my dreams, I was shocked to find only guide service recommendations and websites that looked like they could have been made in the 90s. For weeks, I felt in the dark about how I was going to go to Nepal and climb under my own power. There was a time when I didn’t think it would be possible to climb Ama Dablam; a friend had told me of his own struggles securing a permit and having to stick to trekking peaks instead.
And then I serendipitously ran into my friend Juya who had been to Nepal previously and became my silver bullet. But more on that soon. First of all…
Why Nepal? Why Ama Dablam?
Before I was a climber, I fell in love with the Himalaya on a visit to Dharamshala, India way back in 2012. I thought it was beautiful that walking in the mountains was a spiritual practice for the Tibetan people living in Dharamshala in refuge. It resonated with me. After I started climbing and climbing in the mountains, the Himalaya represented the ultimate culmination of climbing skills. The path I mentally charted for myself went something along the lines of climbing in the Andes to experience altitude… climbing in the Canadian Rockies to experience technical alpine routes… climbing in Alaska to experience climbing cold and remote mountains… and then maybe after all of that I would be ready to climb in the Himalaya.
Admittedly, I don’t have endless free time or budget for months away in the mountains. So I advanced myself along this climbing journey through guiding assignments. In 2019, I got to guide the volcanoes of Ecuador: Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Chimborazo. I did my first work assignment on Denali in 2019, and have since guided 3 expeditions on the West Buttress with 2 summits. I’ve climbed rock and ice in the Canadian Rockies, with many other technical ascents in the Cascades. In my assessment of the situation, I’ve laid a very strong foundation from which to climb from as my climbing career unfolds.
For my first Himalayan foray, I wanted a route that was inspiring but known. Ama Dablam is exactly that. My primary goal with this trip was to learn about how to get around, how to manage expedition logistics, to learn what resources were and weren’t available to me. And I feel like we accomplished exactly that. And yeah, a summit was bagged so that’s cool.
From “Not Possible, Madam” to Possible
To climb in the US, you sort out the approach, sort out the rack and gear you’re going to need, make a few decisions about a few key pieces, figure out your descent, download a GPX track and go. Not so in Nepal, friend.
It was – and remains – incredibly unclear to me how you obtain a climbing permit in Nepal. Our secret sauce was hiring a Sherpa climber to help us arrange logistics, and before you balk and say, “But I don’t want to do that!” If you want to get permits, climb routes, and have the required sirdar/climbing liason oversight of your party, you’re going to have to hire a local outfitter. Once I wrapped my head around this necessity, then I got to kick back and feel the confidence that someone local was going to help us make our plans logistically possible. There was no bartering with porters (and we paid them fairly,) we always had a safe and comfortable place to stay, we had no trouble getting our equipment where it needed to go. After flying halfway around the world, it was a relief to know that we just had to show up and climb. We also got a readymade itinerary that made acclimatization a synch and set us up for success when it came time to go high. We also got connected with a pair of fabulous and incredibly reliable porters that made our expedition possible.
Before you think I sound too bougie, just know that I’m a dirtbag at heart. This is just how it works – necessarily – in Nepal. Without the porters, we would have had to double carry many of the days and the trip would have taken twice as long. I also felt like we were contributing to an economy that we were very fortunate to participate in. Pricing felt fair and reasonable.
Who did we use? An outfitter called Himalaya King Trekking. We were put in touch through a Facebook message and I would gladly refer anyone interested in organizing their own trip (just send me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your dates so that I can relay on your behalf!) We got pricing that did and did not include Sherpa guide support. They also provided a detailed description of what we were paying for: climbing permit fees, fixed rope fees, lodging, food, porters, etc. Very professional and willing to work with us on edits to the itinerary.
PS: A plug for the most sincere and helpful porter ever, Dewan Sing Rai. If he’s available, and you should absolutely request him, you’re going to have a great trip and experience.
Allow me to say it one more time: you absolutely should hire an expedition outfitter to manage the logistics of your Nepal expedition if you’re going to climb. They’re going to save you countless hours dealing with the bureaucracy of climbing permits, sourcing porters, etc. All told, we each paid about $3500 to Himalaya King for 20 nights of food and lodging, 20 days of porter support, climbing permits, fixed rope fees (necessary fees that go to fixed rope maintenance,) climbing liason fees, etc. I brought a bunch of snacks and bars that I didn’t need because we were fed 3 hearty meals a day (more on that soon though.) This rate did not include Sherpa guide support; we were self-supported on all of the climbing that we did. Had we hired a Sherpa to join us for some climbing, it would have cost us each roughly $1000 more. And in all honesty, that’s a screamin’ deal for a guide that’s likely summited Everest numerous times. My roundtrip flight from Seattle to Kathmandu cost $1400 purchased about 2 months in advance, which I found on a Google search. I flew Singapore Airlines and they were LOVELY. I wish every airline could be this pleasant.
When to go: Ama Dablam, Lobuche, Trekking
Climbing season for Ama Dablam is the post-monsoon season, which is usually mid-October through November. Though people climb before and after this. We enjoyed sunny pleasant weather for nearly the duration of the trip; more on a packing list shortly. The thing you have to watch out for is that the winds on Ama Dablam and in that region will eventually pick up and remain high later in the season. For both of my ascents, Lobuche on November 5 and Ama Dablam on November 13, the wind was mostly calm and very reasonable. But there was some stress associated with timing the Ama Dablam climb. Lacking for a better weather resource, we used a combination of Windy (comparing all weather models) and Mountain Forecast and synthesized our own weather product. We also turned many a prayer wheel. There are whisperings of some Swiss weather guru that forecasts for all the local guide services, but we also observed people relying heavily on the “now-cast” – weather looks good? Okay we go.
If you’re not looking to climb, the Three Passes Trek and route to Gokyo seemed like very worthy alternative Nepal missions. I bought my ticket with plans to do the Annapurna Circuit, touted to be one of the most beautiful treks in the world. But when Kelsey signed on, climbing became an option.
Key Pieces of Equipment that Made My Trip
If you bop around the internet, you can download a gear list from nearly every outfitter offering a trip on Ama Dablam. The one I found to be most useful and accurate was the Alpenglow Expeditions packing list. But check a few for peace of mind. Ultimately, I think I brought roughly 20 pounds of gear that I could have done without. Like I’ve mentioned before, I just had a really hard time knowing what I was in for and what I was going to need. Learn from my mistakes!
Solar panel & battery. I have this solar panel because I think it’s one of the most weight-efficient and productive that I’ve used. I’ve also seen these panels frozen and whipped around in the wind on Denali, and they still perform beautifully. I like to keep mine in the hydration sleeve of my backpack so that it doesn’t get crushed. I also use a Goal Zero battery that usually gives me 2-3 charges. I don’t like packing around too much battery weight, and I find that this is the size that works best for my phone, inReach, watch and headlamp.
At nearly teahouse we stayed at, we were charged 300 or more Nepalese rupees to charge phones and power banks. Since the power bank and panel were coming for our expedition days, they also helped to offset some costs.
Phone with downloaded detailed map and itinerary. Before the trip began, I spent a dedicated afternoon with the itinerary Himalaya King provided to me and charted it all on a CalTopo map so that I would have an idea for the distances and elevation we would be working with each day. While I was building my map, I also poked around Google Earth and while it didn’t give me a perfect idea of what we were truly in for, it was better than nothing. I also found it most helpful for visualizing the climbing routes since, as I’ve mentioned, pre-trip information was limited.
Here’s one of the best visual Ama Dablam resources I found in my pre-trip research. The opening photo clearly depicts the summit, and the black pyramidal peak in the background is Mount Everest. I’m already dreaming of going back!
Backpack kit: 100L expedition pack for when we had to say goodbye to our porter friends; 45L Arcteryx Alpha for climbing from the tent and packing kit around while trekking; 18L Marmot Kompressor for Kathmandu and walking around during the day when the trekking was done; 100L Patagonia Black Hole Duffel for carting around the expedition kit.
I’m going to need to rave about my Kompressor pack for just a second. I specifically got this little guy for the trip thinking it would make for a great backpack purse for life in general. I totally underestimated it! The Kompressor is a fully-featured rad little pack ideal for multipitch rock climbing. It’s got smart little pockets that kept my wallet and passport safe in the big city, a smart rope carry system, a secure helmet carry and 2 water bottle pockets to keep you hydrated. I’m also in love with the sunshine yellow color. Can’t say enough good things about that little guy.
A good book. A physical one. I had a bunch of audiobooks downloaded to my phone, but I found it really relaxing to unwind with a physical book each night. The book that I carried around with me was The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and it was great for having something funny to relax and unwind to. My partner was pretty keen to have “High Places” by Steph Davis. Personally, when I’m on a climbing trip I like to unwind to something other than climbing. Later in the trip, I picked up a copy of “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” and I feel that I’m learning a lot from it.
HEADPHONES!! Wireless and the gold old fashioned kind. Day in and day out, you’re just walking through beautiful landscapes… passing herds of yak… passing other tourists. It’s pretty special to just get lost in your own world in a beautiful place. That, and there’s really only so much to talk about day in and day out trekking along.
Comfortable footwear. My footwear kit was as follows: La Sportiva Aequellibrium, EXPED Down Sock & Bivy Booties, Scarpa Phantom 8000, and my trusty Teva flip flops I scored in Anchorage at the Hoarding Marmot. Much of the trek into the Khumbu valley is on uneven cobbled stones. In the Cascades, for pounding out miles on soft packed dirt trail, I love to live in trail runners. But given the uneven nature of the Khumbu, I was very happy to have the Aequellibriums. They were always warm enough for trekking and gave me great ankle support and dexterity without feeling cumbersome. I also thought they would be a great option for the Yellow Tower on Ama Dablam, but since I climbed the route Camp 1 to summit to Camp 1, I ended up electing for my Scarpa Phantom 8000s for the majority of the climb (it was cold at 3am when I started!) More on that later though. Down booties are like slippers and great for cold nights in the tea houses. The Scarpas were not part of my day to day… And flip flops were great for avoiding the community loaner shower flops. If everybody is using them, doesn’t it kinda defeat the purpose of footwear in the shower? Just me?
A small food gift for the porters. I wish this idea had occurred to me a little earlier. I wanted to bring a little taste of America to the fine folks helping us get our gear where it was going. And since bringing a cheeseburger didn’t seem like a viable option, I brought some of those little stroopwaffle cookies from Trader Joes. Kelsey brought 2 tiny jugs of maple syrup, representing for Canada. I’ll do better next time. And on a related note…
Cash tip for the porters. Porters make all things Khumbu possible and should be compensated for their hard work. Our trip would have been considerably longer had we been responsible for carrying our full expedition kits back into the Khumbu Valley. I arrived at my tip amount based on what folks usually tip me in the US; this was after a healthy deliberation of how much they’d truly empowered us. Tip your porters generously! And do not try to short them on wages to begin with. They deserve every dollar and more.
4 pairs of pants all day… (okay maybe 6 including baselayer and puffy pants.) “All day” being another way of saying total. I did most of my trekking in a pair of yoga pants, with many days also spent in a lightweight pair of softshell pants. When it came time to climb, I upgraded to the burlier and more wind resistant Marmot Rom Pants (which I adore) and supplemented with the windproof Marmot Mitre Peak pants that I climbed in all day on Ama Dablam. (In the Cascades, I never run a baselayer… but on summit day on Ama Dablam I started and remained in: Expedition Weight Baselayer, Rom Softshell Pant, Feathered Friends Helios Pants and the Mitre Peak Hardshell Pant over top. Crazy.)
Underwear. This is the thing that I’m never going to be too ultralight about. My partner was constantly washing and drying underwear in the teahouses, but because it’s usually dark and cold in the teahouses they wouldn’t dry in a timely manner. Don’t skimp on the skivvies. Just bring a bunch. Live your best life. You’ll be happy for it at the end of your trip when you’ve been living in the same pants for WEEKS. I was.
A quick plug: you can buy SO MANY THINGS for your expedition in Namche Bazar. Gloves, booties, puffies, softshell pants, canister fuel, you name it, they’ve got it. Rest easy knowing that if you’re missing anything from your kit, it will probably be there… but not after you head deeper into the Khumbu Valley. Namche is the last place where you can get most expedition goods.
Altitude drugs. It makes me slightly uneasy to advise what kind of drugs to bring for your kit so I’m going to be intentionally brief here. Consult a doctor. But know you can buy altitude drugs over the counter in Namche Bazar easily (dexamethazone, acetazolomide, niphedipene, and general antibiotics too.) When you inevitably develop the Khumbu cough (nearly everyone everywhere was coughing for the duration of the trip,) the ANTIKOF tabs are pretty handy.
Steripen and backup batteries (in your checked bag!) I brought a Steripen (yes!) with fresh batteries (yes!) and left the extra lithium ion batteries at home to avoid airport hassle (no!) The Steripen lasted 2 people treating all of their drinking water about one week before it died on us. It was a great tool for peace of mind and something I would use again… But be sure to bring batteries especially if multiple people are using it.
The right plethora of puffies. The good news is that it’s mostly dry cold in the Himalaya at this time of year, so if you’re deciding between down and synthetic for any of these layers, go for the lighter and more compressible down option. That said, I love a close-to-body synthetic puffy that I can wear as an uphill layer that will continue to insulate when damp… whether that’s from sweat or pricip. This is what you need, no more no less:
Marmot Novus LT Hybrid Hoody. This is my ultra do-it-all layer. I sleep in it. I wear it all day. It can act like a softshell. It moves with me and climbs well. It looks good. This is my ultimate layer.
Marmot Hype Down Hoody. This is the perfect weight alpine down puffy. Not too thin, not too thick, ultrapackable. Nice, soft face fabric. The right fill to keep you cozy come cold zero degree temperatures. This puffy comes on all of my climbing trips and I’m never disappointed.
Marmot West Rib Parka. Nobody does down better than Marmot, and this Himalayan cuddle machine is a testament to that. Due to wind and cold temperatures on my summit day, I spent most of summit day at and above 20,000 feet in this jacket. It has also summited Denali twice and been known to make an appearance in cold ice climbing conditions. When I want to be warm, I put this bombshell on.
100L Backpack. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty luxurious and awesome working with porters. Since I’m used to climbing in the Cascades, I’m used to carrying my full climbing and 1-person overnight kit. At first I felt guilty handing over my expedition kit, but then I grew to LOVE IT. Keep in mind that porter loads should not exceed 30KG or roughly 66lb. Its for the porter’s wellbeing. The 100L backpack enabled me to put my full cold-weather kit, tent and rope away to drag up and down the hill. When I was climbing, I paired down to a 45L light pack to carry my puffies, water, summit mitts, etc. I would repeat this system in the future.
Tent. Having our own tent gave us a lot of flexibility. We used the Marmot Thor 2p ultra-wind-weather-bomb-proof tent. I gotta say, it’s a very roomy and livable tent even though we didn’t have to spend much time in it. I think you should bring the most rugged, reinforced but also lightweight tent available to you. See the section about the routes for more thoughts on tents.
You could also forgo bringing a tent, but then you’re at the mercy of reserving a spot at camps. And if you’re ready to go high, there are likely other people with similar plans. Upon my arrival at the Ama Dablam Basecamp Lodge, I asked about the availability of a tent at Camp 1 or Camp 2 and was simply told “no they’re not available” for a 5-day summit window date range. So keep that in mind, too. (I would bring my own tent again because it gives you options.)
Crampons. I brought my Petzl Lynx cramponsn and was happy with the decision for both Lobuche and Ama Dablam. Both peaks could be climbed with flat front-point, glacier walking crampons (shoutout to the fixed lines!) but I felt like the vertical frontpoints were nice for icey sections on both peaks.
Axe? Tools? I used an ultralight CAMP Corsa ice axe and was happy with the decision. Once again, fixed ropes really take the uncertainty out, assuming you’re sticking with the trade routes. If you’re venturing off the beaten track, more power to you.
This was one of my bigger question marks before the trip… And one of my greatest sources of delight on the trip! Most every day that we were trekking we were fed 3 quality hot meals in tea houses. Breakfast wasn’t always great and the eggs were a little grey for my liking… But Tibetan bread with honey became my jam. For lunch, dal bhat power 24 hour, baby. It’s basically lentils and rice and always pleasant. That, or a fried rice with vegetabes, fried noodles with vegetables, Sherpa stew (veg heavy stew with homemade thick noodles.) And something similar for dinner, always with a side of veg momos. I avoided all meat before climbing as a precaution. If you think about it, most all of the meat has to be helicoptered and then portered in. And most porters aren’t carrying around refrigerator units (though it looks like they could be.) I found the simple foods to be nourishing and comforting, even if they did get a little repetitive by the end of the trip. But that’s okay, there are many great places to eat in Kathmandu to make up for it (I went to OR2K in Thamel at least 4 times, highly recommend.) That, and I’m just far enough out from this trip that I’m proud to share I never had Delhi Belly, even though I had a mess of drugs to treat it the whole time.
So what kind of food kit should you bring to Nepal?
Snacks you’re gonna want to eat at altitude. Usually, it isn’t much. I find that my appetite more or less evaporates and that I really only want to eat simple sugars. For me, the Peak Refuel Brownie Bites, and Tahoe Trail Bar Mango Coconut bars were the only things I could really stomach. And the occassional Hi Chew.
Hydration enhancer! Hydration is the difference between feeling okay and feeling no-way at altitude. Add something to your water whenever possible to make you drink constantly, especially if you’re going to take diamox. I fell in love with the Peak Refuel Melon Flavor drink mix. Salty, pleasant tasting electrolytes. I was also happy to have a cache of EmergenC after the Khumbu cough finally got me halfway through the trip. The cough didn’t go away, but it felt good to know I was putting some vitamins in.
Stove. I had a hard time imagining what food was going to be available to us along the route. We came prepared with 1 week of Peak Refuel dehy each. And I’m SO GLAD we did. We saved a bunch of money on food by doing this, and the “grab and go” options for food are pretty dismal along the way (think cookies, chips, chocolate bars, etc. Nothing with much substance.) One week of food was just enough to keep us covered with some buffer for our two climbs.
TLDR; bring a canister stove. I couldn’t find white gas in Namche Bazar in any of the bodegas or outdoor shops. And yes, I brought a Reactor and a Whisperlite (and a sweet little frying pan I scored at Goodwill in advance of the trip for $7!) I thought for sure we would be using the WL, but not so. Everybody is running canister stoves and the Reactor RULES for putting out a billion BTUs and melting snow at altitude fast.
BUY FUEL IN NAMCHE. You don’t know what will or won’t be available after Namche. If you buy too much fuel, or if you get lucky and score somebody else’s spoils like we did, you can sell it back to shop keepers in Namche. Better to have too much than too little; be sure to budget for melting snow.
Delish dehy that you’re gonna want to eat up high. For me, that’s the Peak Refuel Thai Chicken Curry, Biscuits and Gravy, and Pasta Alfredo. Miso packets are a nice savory alternative to tea too. Honestly, I would happily eat any of those dehy meals at sea level. They’re bomb. The dehy bags make for great garbage management too after you get a delicious meal – win, win.
Snacks, but not too many snacks. I brought approximately 2 million bars because I thought for-sure on the trek getting to and from our climbs I would want something to snack on. I had to give a bunch away to our porters and tea house hosts because I found that was so well fed from our 3 tea house meals. In all honesty, the snack game along the way isn’t great (like the grab and go food options, IMHO) but the meals are super satisfying and good for giving you all day energy.
Things I Brought that I Didn’t Need
I’ll keep this short: a smartphone gimbal (annoying to use and heavy,) too many bars, one puffy too many, a WhisperLite or white gas stove and associated cooking things, too many glove options, I brought a rope and picket and didn’t use them (fixed lines, baby!) but wouldn’t go without a RAD Line in the future, deodorant (sorry, it’s a mountain girl thing,) coffee and filter (I really embraced the Nescafe life and try not to hit diuretics hard at altitude,) 6000m boots would cut it but I love my 8000m boots… I’ll add to this list if I think of anything else.
Lobuche East: A technical trekker’s delight, 6,119m
Our itinerary had us trekking to Everest Basecamp, climbing Lobuche East and then going on to Ama Dablam after. What actually happened was we trekked to the town of Lobuche, stayed at the lovely New EBC tea house, saw a splitter weather window and made a gametime decision to climb instead of trek. I’m glad we did!
From what I’d gathered from the internet, the climbing route takes you to a low camp above Chola Lake and then a second higher camp beside a lake at 17,000 feet. That’s one way to do it, but it seems like most folks approach from Lobuche the town on the eastern side of the mountain climbing through improbable looking 3rd and 4th class terrain. Most folks then dropped down to high camp at 17k. We basically crested the saddle above high camp and decided to make our home on one of the several available bivy pads. We had no neighbors that night… but we also drank from the tiniest tarn that felt like cause for concern, given all the trash on the ground and general disregard for Leave No Trace in general. But the chlorine tabs worked! We survived!
Like I’ve mentioned before, if you wanted to forgo bringing a tent, you could totally make a reservation at Lobuche High Camp through one of the guide services. I’m not sure how much this would cost and what availability is like during peak season. An option, though. Hot meals are nice.
We hiked to high camp and stayed at 18,300 feet, give or take. We got to enjoy a gorgeous show put on by clouds spilling over Ama Dablam and other neighboring peaks, slept great and then got up around 6 to begin climbing. Originally we’d planned on getting up earlier, but given the lack of distance and Kelsey’s lack of movement at my alarm going off, I resisted the call to exit my cozy -40 sleeping bag and instead waited for daylight before pulling on my down puffy and parka.
Even with a later start, and with this being a new altitude record for Kelsey, we managed to summit at 11am. We traversed rock slabs first thing in the morning and followed what looked like tattered boat line to the base of the snowy part of the route around 19,500 feet. Here’s a decent idea of what the route looks like. There was a short ice step and then a well defined track all the way up to an exposed Himalayan ridge. Glorious.
We descended back to New EBC in the town of Lobuche and were back in time for leisurely momos and Khukri rum-enhanced milk tea.
Ama Dablam: The most beautiful mountain I’ve ever laid eyes on, 6812m
This mountain is the stunner of the Khumbu Valley. The first time you see it, you’re pretty much guaranteed a gasp. Ama Dablam means “Mother’s Necklace,” with the Dablam being a giant terrifying serac looming over Camp 3 on the mountain.
You have two options to choose from to begin your climb. There’s Ama Dablam basecamp, where it’s entirely possible to pitch or hitch a tent. Glamping is very much an option, tents are decked out with real beds, wifi, hot cooked meals and more. Not sure how much those run ya though. The alternative is to stay at the similarly luxurious Ama Dablam Basecamp Lodge, which is what we did. You pay an inclusive “fooding and lodging” fee that covers a bed (BYO sleeping bag) and all-you-can-eat style meals, like pizza, spaghetti, garlic soup, veg curry, chapati, sherpa stew, and other familar Nepal staples. Usually 3 or 4 dishes at each meal. All the hot water you can drink (with drink mixes supplied on the tables.) If you’d like to order something different, that’s an option too though we didn’t feel the need to explore it.
Once again, consider me dazzled by Nepal hospitality and the way things are done. The lodge was recently built in the last year and is very cozy. When it’s time to leave to sleep in a tent, it’s rather disappointing.
Our climbing strategy was as follows:
- A note, this was after spending weeks gradually climbing into the Khumbu Valley and after summiting Lobuche to acclimatize
- Day One: Climb from Pangboche to Ama Dablam Basecamp Lodge (14,810 feet)
- Day Two: ADBC to Advanced Basecamp or Yak Camp to cache equipment (17,838 feet.) Return to ADBC to sleep low.
- Day Three: ADBC to Yak Camp (17,838 feet.)
- Day Four: Yak Camp to Camp One (19,035 feet.) Since I was solo from this point onward, I had to make two trips to Yak Camp to get the full kit to Camp 1.
- Day Five: Camp One to Summit to Camp One (22,349 feet.) 12 hours to summit solo.
- Day Six: Camp 1 to Ama Dablam Basecamp (with all my gratitude to a porter that helped deliver my kit to base.)
This was after weather watching and watching winds steadily increase on our intended summit day. Ultimately, I made the decision to go with “not ideal but bearable” conditions and was rewarded with mild winds for the better part of my summit day. I like to reference the NOAA Wind Chill Chart to help steer my decision making. On summit day, temperatures were forecasted to hover around 0 degrees Fahrenheit with winds around 35mph forecasted throughout the day for the upper mountain. This put me squarely in the “30 minutes of exposure means frostbite” window per the chart. I was very happy to have my neoprene wind mask and ski goggles! Although I didn’t end up using ski goggles, I did use the mask.
I wrote a fairly lengthy post about my summit day here. And I listened to this album on repeat to see me through: Vieux Farka Touré & Khruangbin – Ali. The song that I liked the most is called “Lobbo.” In sum I’ll say: then number one thought I had that day was repeatedly asking myself, “Am I in control?” I very much didn’t want to human factor myself into making bad decisions while I was climbing solo. It was also the highest I’d been, so I was constantly keeping tabs on myself. So long as I could formulate a descent strategy, I gave myself permission to continue to climb. And what a beautiful mental battle it was. I questioned my motives. I got to fully step outside of myself and examine who I was and what I was doing there. I felt every bite of food nourish my body; I felt myself relish every drop of water. It was profound. Altitude is incredible. Will power is incredible.