“It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves” – Sir Edmund Hillary
Every now and again, when the world feels weary and the air feels heavy, I find it high time to look at my surroundings from a different view. Sometimes when life is grasping at straws and precious moments are few and far between, a vista from above is the answer.
The first thing one notices is that your lungs feel as though they are filled with cotton. Every agonizing step forward leaves you gasping for breath that you can never seem to manage to get enough of. Also, add that to the fact that you are carrying upwards of five liters of water, heavy coats, gloves and snow caps, and a certain evasive five-man tent. That, my friend, makes for one fucking difficult climb.
Although all the above mentioned is necessary, the hike is rather less perilous. And while you get many breaks, including lunch, the near vertical ascent seems impossible. Therefore, its based simply on sheer fortitude.
The base camp, being just a few hours from the dwellings, places itself just one hour from the summit. The dormant volcano of Acatenango has the picturesque view of its tumultuous brother across a small valley. It visually and audibly breathes almost every night with the occasional coughing fit. However, in the end it’s almost always the same, with liquid fire running down its spine.
A Guatemalan man died a few years ago at the peak. He froze to death, his last view surely being Volcan de Fuego. The quote by Sir Edmund Hillary was inscribed on the cross in Spanish. It makes you think about how short life is. Furthermore, it also makes me think of the risks we take as humans. The fact that any sane creature would crawl up here in the dead of night is completely illogical. We do the illogical though, us humans. Perhaps, that’s why we can comprehend the meaning of a few simple words on a dead man’s cross.
And yes, the climb was exhausting. It was utterly soul-breakingly exhausting. But sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.
*Anyone in Antigua looking for adventure check out Planet Maya on 7th Avenue South. Right next to the Refugio coffee shop. Cheapest bookings in town. Good luck!