*I took this post down as there was a hint of it getting published in a magazine. That never happened so popping it back here to keep everything together. First posted December 2014.
I was woken at 3.30am by the shrill alarm. I was inclined to stay snuggled up warm in bed with the boys and have Nick continue up to Base Camp without us. The suggestion was not well met. “Shut up and shift your arse Mrs”. The boys were equally unimpressed at being snatched from sleep at that hour as we bundled them up, bewildered in as many layers as possible.
The icy air took my breath away as we left our hut. The majesty of the inky sky dusted with stars was proof enough that getting up was the right thing to do!
With Tom slung on my back we set off. Sharing a head torch, Tanja and I made slow progress quickly falling far behind Nick and George. Each step took a huge effort. My stomach churned with nausea and my head throbbed from the altitude. I had no idea what surface was underfoot. Not quite snow but it felt crispy like frost covered leaves. I couldn’t think more than a step ahead and just held onto reaching Base Camp and having a cuppa.
We could see a trail of lights bobbing ahead and another behind us marking the passage of other trekkers. Somehow Tanja and I lost the main path and ended up crossing a frozen river. I tried calling for Nick but he was too far ahead to hear. I tried to stay calm as we searched for a way back. I feared putting a foot wrong and falling into the freezing water. Newspaper headlines flashed before my eyes Mother and child die from exposure in Himalayas. Relief flooded through my body when a beam of light from another trekker helped guide us back.
The light of dawn crept into the mountains and their magnitude showed against the murky sky. Tomas began to cry from the cold. And as I tried to go faster the energy each step took seemed immense. I dug deep and reminded myself of all my body was capable of (walking on fire and natural childbirth) to get my baby inside and warm. I moved him onto my front, wrapping him inside my coat to share my body heat. This made walking harder as I couldn’t see where I was treading.
As I was nearing the ABC sign Nick appeared like the proverbial knight in shining armour and took Tomas from me. The relief of carrying less weight spurred me on but Nick still managed to go much faster. I lost him. Staggered into base camp and spent several confused minutes searching the cluster of huts. Until there they were. My boys, my loves snuggled up in a duvet drinking hot chocolate.
We watched as the snow-capped mountains were bathed first pink, then gold as the sun rose. As we huddled together for warmth I was hit by waves of nausea and relief. We drank ginger tea, for the sickness, and had a muted celebration of our achievement. We had made it, every one of those 4130 metres.
I needed to get moving to warm up and we started our descent pausing only to get a been-there-done-that family photo beneath the “Anapurna Base Camp” sign. The relief of going downhill was so immense that I ran with glee. Surprised at how even the track was in the daylight. We were reunited back at the lodge for a much needed breakfast and real celebration.