Dreams of Really Tall Mountains

If you read my blog last week (the one where I confessed my love for REI), you probably figured out that I like to hike as well as travel. And with spring just around the corner, I’ve been getting ready for an adventurous summer.

Still recovering from an injury, I haven’t been able to get on any trails yet, but I have been spending my nights living vicariously through documentaries.

Yes, I’ve become documentary girl.

My best friend and I are a little obsessed. After watching a particularly good one, she’ll send me a text with the title and a brief synopsis. I have a running list of titles to watch on Netflix, and just not enough time.

Last night, I watched K2: Sirens of the Himalayas. It tells the story of a group of mountaineers hoping to summit K2 in 2009, the 100-year anniversary of the landmark 1909 expedition. One of the 14 mountains over 8,000 metres, K2 is the second highest mountain in the world at 8,611 metres, second only to Mount Everest. While more than 4,000 people have climbed Everest, only a little more than 300 have climbed K2. K2 is easily regarded as much more of a challenge than Everest; the former has harsher conditions, and is the second mountain with highest mortality rate.

According to the documentary, Everest has a mortality rate of 5%, while K2’s is 25%.

So what with this love of just really tall mountains? It is a “just cause it’s there” type thing? Perhaps; that’s probably part of it. It’s the ultimate challenge for people with this passion. It’s pushing yourself as far as your body and spirit can go, and realizing that you can accomplish something extraordinary (if you manage to summit; though I think even making a serious attempt is worthy). Also, the view must $@%*ing amazing.

Now I love to climb, but I can’t even imagine climbing K2, let alone anything that is 8,000 metres high. Trekking through the harsh Karakoram range to glimpse the amazing scenery and the breath-taking mountain, now that’s something I’d love to do. Not to mention that the mountain is located in Pakistan — a country I would love to visit and learn more about from the inside.

For now, I’m happy to settle with some outdoor climbing with my sisters in the Pacific Northwest this summer.

But, who knows? Maybe I’ll be a mountaineer someday. One of the women in the documentary — Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner saw a slideshow of K2 in her early 20’s and went on to become the first woman to summit all 14 eight-thousanders without the help of supplemental oxygen.

She’s pretty cool — shout out to Woman’s History Month (which just ended a few days ago). She was also named one of National Geographic’s 2014 Adventurers of the Year. Check out her bio and fun facts here.

Happy trails and travels — spring is coming!

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