Well, it's over. The gap year is coming to an end and we just completed our week long trek up the tallest free standing mountain in the world. On the first day we hiked for about 6 hours uphill to base camp. It was a long day but the weather was fine and spirits were high. After the first dinner we all knew this was something we could totally accomplish and everyone was really positive. The second day was fine also and everyone was really enjoying the experience. We hiked above the clouds on the second day and the view was totally incredible. That night it rained as we slept in our tents and tried to stay warm. The third day was pretty difficult and all of our stuff got wet from the rain and was nearly impossible to dry. We were snowed/ sleeted on for a few hours during the hike and it made it emotionally difficult to keep hiking and get to camp. The weather was bad that day and we even had to reroute our hike to get to camp safely. Everyone was pretty tired after the third day but we kept spirits high and kept on going. On the fourth day our stuff was wet but we knew we were nearing the summit so we kept moving forward. The weather was harsh, we were cold and wet, but still we pressed on as determined as ever to make it to the top. Our guide informed us that if the weather didn't stop then we would not be able to attempt the summit as it was too dangerous. On the fifth day it rained all day and we barely made it to camp in time for dinner. We were about 16,000 feet up, the altitude didn't seem to be affecting anyone though so we all stayed positive and prepared ourselves to summit that night. Our guide gave us a very serious talk that night and said he did not want to kill anyone on the mountain. I could tell by his tone of voice that the journey ahead would be far more difficult than all the days we had hiked combined. Our guide told us that if the weather was okay, he would wake us up at midnight to attempt the summit. Around 11:30 I heard a tap on the tent and a voice telling me it was time to get up. After a few short hours of sleep we all woke up and layered up for the last time. We had some tea and cookies and set off on what would be the hardest night physically and mentally of my life. Justin and Addie decided it was not in their best interest to attempt the summit so they stayed behind at the camp. Me, Amy, Emma, Virginia, Hannah, Jake, Ellie and Noah and our guides set our to conquer the mountain. A few hours in I began to realize the altitude was getting to me a lot more than I thought it would. My vision was blurred, my head was pounding, I was incredibly nauseous and every step felt like a mile. The ground was covered in snow and with every step forward I slid back a few inches making it really difficult to keep going. Ellie was in front of me and kept pausing every other step. I kept telling her words of encouragement like: keep going, take another step, mind over matter, and you can do this. She took another step, paused and collapsed right in front of me. I caught her with my hiking pole and watched as she fell to the ground. Immediately the guides ran over and helped her up only for her to collapse again. One guide raised his voice and begged us not to push ourselves to much. As she was carried down the mountain it soon became clear to me that summiting was not going to be an option for me. All of the symptoms from the altitude became worse and worse with every step. Me and Amy soon decided that going down was in our best interest before things got any worse. Although I was angry with myself and the mountain for most of the descent, I had to walk away knowing I did the best I could and gave it 100%. Half of the group remained to keep going and attempt the summit. They made it to a place called Stella point after over 8 hours of hiking. They were unable to reach the actual summit because it was covered in ice and too dangerous to attempt. I am so proud of everyone in our group and I can't believe what an amazing experience it was. It was a beautiful way to finish off a wonderful year and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Thank you to everyone who prayed for this journey and has followed along!


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