NEMO Equipment is proud to have sponsored this climb along with La Sportiva and Deuter.
By Jessica Hamel, Summit for Someone climber
There’s something powerful about spending time outdoors. With each experience outside people tend to grow, change and transform. Four women from different backgrounds impassioned and connected by how their own outdoor experiences shaped them decided to help a next generation transform through the outdoors through the Big City Mountaineers Summit for Someone program.
The Orizaba adventure began with two very sleepy flights to Mexico and a catnap on the airport floor. Here we were, traveling to another country, to climb to the highest height a majority of us had ever been. (Big City Mountaineers Board Member and member of the womens’ team, Georgina Miranda, has climbed 6 of the 7 summits!) We were totally out of our element, but ready to charge full steam ahead into this experience. We couldn’t help but reflect on how Big City Mountaineers youth would feel later this summer heading out, mostly for their first time, on a week in the backcountry.
“I learned I am stronger than I think and can do whatever I set my mind to.” Big City Mountaineers Youth
The drive to our climbers’ hostel in Tlachichuca was long, but driving through the different parts of Mexico gave us an eye-opening perspective. We come from such a different world than those living in many parts of Mexico. We, probably, also come from different home and life scenarios than the under-resourced youth heading out on BCM trips.
Over the next few days, we rested, planned out the climb, checked our gear and began our acclimatization period on the mountain. During this time, our nerves began to act up in anticipation of summit day. We quietly sat and wondered to ourselves, “Am I ready? Are our bodies going to respond well to the altitude? Are we going to make it to the summit?” Elizabeth Williams, BCM Program Director and part of the team, shared stories of the youth on her trips anticipating their summit days.
“One of my biggest challenges is thinking that I can’t do it. Out here, I learned to ignore those thoughts and do it anyway.” Big City Mountaineers Youth
The night before the summit, we escaped from the hut at 14,000ft to sleep under the stars at 15,000+ ft. Sleep may not be the correct word here. You may want to think of it more like anxiously waiting in your sleeping bag as quietly as possible so you don’t bother your tentmate who may or may not be sleeping until the alarm goes off. The moment was finally here. At 3AM we would start our journey up towards the summit at 18,491ft.
The climb to the summit was slow, yet anything but relaxed. Each step was taken with intention. We slowly began to breathe harder and harder as the air thinned out. Most of the Big City Mountaineers do a ‘summit day’ during their week-long expeditions. They’re not always used to hiking mountains and it’s usually a long day for them. During our climb, we couldn’t help to hear the words of one Big City Mountaineers youth in our heads:
“Each step, each breath, it is the most memorable time of my life.” Big City Mountaineers Youth
We made it.
After a massive effort, we made it to the summit of Pico De Orizaba. Standing on the summit, we knew and felt it was for something more than us. It was for the Big City Mountaineers youth. We were able to dedicate our frivolous outdoor activities to get a new generation outdoors to grow, learn, become more confident and transform.
“I learned mental toughness when dealing with challenge. No longer will I let fear stop me from doing what I want to do.” Big City Mountaineers Youth
We want to send a huge ‘thank you!’ to all of the brands that made this trip possible and donated to get under-resourced kid out on transformative wilderness experiences: NEMO Equipment, La Sportiva and Deuter.
This post was originally published by Big City Mountaineers on Medium.