|At Lukla airport after flying down from Everest Base Camp.|
Left: Jon Reiter of Kenwood, California
Right: Marcus Bridle of Melbourne, Australia
After getting back to Kathmandu and seeing all the press, I can't help but to step back from it and think "I just wanted to come climb a mountain". But as we all now know, Marcus' and my climb has instead become a pawn in a much bigger story.
The loss of 16 Sherpa's lives, watching their bodies be brought down one by one and the near miss for Marcus and myself, has together somehow changed mountaineering's position on my list of life's priorities.
I've enjoyed a great decade of climbing the world's highest peaks and I've certainly enjoyed sharing these times with all of you back home. However, I think it's time for this chapter of my life to come to an end. It's nice that I have this option, the choice to decide to end this chapter and move on to the next life experience; to spend the next 6 years participating in my boy's life on a day to day basis before he leaves for college; for 16 men on Everest they'll never get that choice.
We've all heard about these life illuminating events and we've all surely experienced something that has set us back on our heels and made us re-evaluate what means what; this expedition has done just that for me. I feel so lucky to be headed home; to get to be there for my boy as he grows; another shot at living a full life (I may have used up all of my "get out of jail free" cards at this point :-) and a chance to appreciate all my friends and family once again..
I'd also like to say thank you to all of you who have taken the time to send thoughtful and appreciated notes offering support for the disappointment that Marcus and I must feel. We have read each and every one of them and they've meant more to us than you know. It's true that missing the summit of Everest is a great disappointment but what we have witnessed and been a part of has impacted us much more than the summit ever could.
Life is a great and unpredictable journey. We each make of it whatever we choose. I think that if we want to focus on the worst, on the negative, surely that's exactly what we'll find and what life will deliver. If we decide to do the best we can, to try to see the best in others and to remember that we only have so many days on this planet to practice this... We'll each do ok.
Thank you all for participating in this adventure with Marcus and me. With each passing year and adventure, it seems to become clearer and clearer to me how simple life really is. As someone once said, we just need to watch our words around others and our thoughts when we're alone... Life is simply a reflection of the thoughts we choose to think..
Today I choose to think about all the wonderful friends as family that share my life. I'm a lucky guy...
Enjoy your journey! JR
Below is a link to the NY Times article that so many people have responded to. The best part is at the end.