Because It?s There
On Chen Chens route to the highest peak of the world, corpses of mountaineers served as a reminder of how tough it is to climb Qomolangma. Chen recently became the first female college student to climb Qomolangma.
It took her two years preparation and another 40 days in the oxygen?deprived, high altitude of Tibet. Chen Chen is a 25?year?old girl, whose major is outdoor recreation at China University of Geosciences, Wuhan campus. When she removes her puffy down jacket and climbing boots fitted with crampons, Chen Chen is a slim woman with a pageboy haircut.
But according to Dong Fan, director of this Qomolangma expedition who has been to the top three times, it is Chens unrivalled mental strength that got her to the top of the world.
“Apparently Chen Chen is a born mountaineer. She is tough and her mental strength is more powerful than many male mountaineers,” said Dong.
But for Chen, her mental toughness came at a price. When Chen was a freshman her father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a fatal disease.
The cost of keeping his symptoms under control squeezed every penny out of the family purse. Instead of enjoying a care?free freshman year, Chen took a part?time job in a local sports club to support her tuition and expenses.
“I learned endurance throughout my college life, which, by chance, is what a good mountaineer should require,” said Chen.
Chens cool, calm attitude singled her out from 400 student?applicants for the trip to Tibet. The expedition team climbed the peak via the north ridge, where climbers usually find the vertical ascent rather difficult.
Their final push to the 8,844.43?meter summit from the 8,300?meter camp was only three to four kilometres. “But it took us seven hours to crawl our way up,” said Chen.
In her final effort to the top, several frozen bodies were like monuments alongside her path.
“I thought I would be afraid of the mountaineers corpses, but respect replaced horror the second I saw them on my way to the peak,” said Chen.
At 8:16 a.m., May 19, Chen finally stood on the summit for 15 minutes. It was long enough. As the party descended, Chens parents were like cats on hot bricks thousands of kilometres away on her campus in Wuhan.
Many fatal incidents have taken place on the descent and there is no second chance if you fall down or miss your footing on the mountain.
“I hardly talked about mountain climbing with my parents, let alone the danger of it,” said Chen.
According to Chen, a mountaineer must avoid causing his or her family anxiety. “One wrong step could cost you your life, but you cannot have your parents haunted by that,” said Chen.
Following her trip to the top of the world, Chen is considering professional mountaineering as her career in the future.
She cited the reason why legendary British mountaineer George Mallory wanted to climb Qomolangma: “Because its there.”