It's a thumb rule that when you are climbing Everest, you don't risk your life for anyone if your life could be at stake. It was in 2019, when my 9 year long dream, effort and practice finally helped me reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
We were coming back down from the summit when one of the fellow climbers slipped. One small error and he was hanging upside down with entangled ropes. In no time, his oxygen mask fell off. You can only imagine how he felt because, when I removed my mask for 30 seconds on the summit to click a picture, I started having blackouts. We were helpless and so was he because he had no energy to pull himself back up.
There was a 13000ft drop beneath him and in no more than two minutes, we saw the life slip out of his body. We continued with our remaining journey with a heavy heart. I was still trying to get over it, when I suddenly started to feel my health deteriorate rapidly. It all happened too quickly. Within the span of seven minutes, I wasn't able to walk. I felt partially paralyzed every time I tried standing back up, I'd fall down weaker. I knew this was it.
At the altitude of 26000ft above sea level, your body would never be recovered and no help would come. Simple reason being that it is very risky. There was a flat piece of ground behind me. I crawled to it, placed my bag on the side, and sat down taking it's support. You know, when someone is dying, only the most important things or people stay. Everything else is filtered out into oblivion.
In that moment, when I was sitting there, breathing my last few breaths, do you know what filtered out and what remained? What didn't matter was the 9 years of sacrifices and efforts. What didn't matter was that I reached the summit. The only thing that remained, were those 3-4 faces. There were a lot of unsaid things that I wanted to say to those faces but I never thought I'd get the chance to. I spoke out loud to whoever was listening, saying, "Please, give me 30 seconds with them."
Just as I was fading away, my Sherpa guide who was behind me saw me and asked me what happened. I said to him, "I am not able to stand up. There is nothing you can do. Carry on and I'll continue to rest here." Nonetheless, he still checked and realized that my oxygen tank was running low and that I was absolutely fine. All it took was the slip of the mind for me to end up in that situation. They changed the oxygen tank and I could stand up again. I owe my life to my Sherpa.
People often ask me what was the best moment of the expedition. To me, it wasn't the fact that I spent my prime years obsessing over climbing Mt. Everest neither was it the moment where I made it to the summit. It was when I was walking out of the airport gate and saw the same faces in front of me with whom I wanted to spend my last 30 seconds with, that was my best moment. The downhill is always the most slippery. But, if you make your way out of it, there is nothing like it.
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