One, Two, Freak Out!

Island Peak (Yikes!) photo by Emil Friis from

Ok. Take 2. I have the duffle bag half open, I have my toothpaste and toothbrush lying next to it, it’s 11:30 PM and I’m a few pounds heavier. I am packing this time to go to the Himalayas. This is the journey to go meet the Big One. I will be climbing with a group of 7 people I don’t know to Everest base camp at 5300 m altitude, I will be greeting Mount Everest, and I will begin my first technical climb up Island Peak to 6180 m. In snow.

Let’s see … About a month ago I went on an Amazon shopping spree and I bought five mountaineering books ranging from guides to true stories of horrors and successes. The books arrived when I was on a trip to Dubai and when I came back the box remained unopened for three days. I have the books lying in front of me on the desk but I’m too hesitant to read any. I have not been doing any physical training for this trip. I have not looked up any information on Nepal except an hour ago to check out the weather.

I short, I’m freaking out. And when I freak out I go on denial.

My body weight and shape have definitely changed. I’m not sure how comfortable my clothes will be this time around. I’m not sure how my heavy backpack is going to feel on my back. I’m not sure if I can still carry the weight and continue to endure at a high altitude, let alone start my first climb in snow. My brain keeps telling me to drink a lot of coffee in the morning and eat a lot of junk at night. I stare at the TV for hours, hating, loathing the acting and the cheap plots. I have a jammed state of mind with loops endlessly swirling around my head.

I’m still moving on with the plan, though. If Kilimanjaro was about quieting my mind then hello?? I think my mind now needs to shut up!

There still is one thing different about me this time. I have learned my bitter lesson and got myself a lot of dry sacs to categorize my things. Now I have a sac for pants, a sac for tops, a sac for socks, etc. And I love the you-can’t-beat-and-drown-me-this-time feeling I have towards my things! I now look at my bag with command and superiority.

To be fair to myself, it hasn’t really been that long since Kilimanjaro. It’s been only two months. That’s not enough time for my muscles to completely fall out of tone. Maybe go to sleep a little, but not reverse. Muscle memory will hopefully make my body pick up where it stopped.

I made the decision to fly to Nepal in one minute. I read the announcement about the trip and something inside me began to boil. My adrenalin started to pump in seconds. I knew I wouldn’t be alright if I stayed and slackened in Cairo for too long after Kilimanjaro. The longer I do that the worse my mood becomes. And if the motivation for working out is behind me I feel depressed. More and more of the TV mode I’m currently in is only further proof that I need to get on a mountain as soon as possible.

So I guess I took my decision back then to save myself from today. I’m glad I made that decision. I need to throw myself at another mountain. I need to count my steps and look at my boots. I need to wash my ears with the silence and my eyes with the whiteness of the snow. I need to feel and hear my every breath. I need to be free again.

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  1. #1 by Marwa Elnaggar on November 11, 2010 - 4:48 am

    Now THIS is an adventure! Can’t wait to hear all about it.


    • #2 by Arwa Mahmoud on November 11, 2010 - 8:59 am

      Can’t wait to begin it! Now I feel more refreshed and looking forward in the morning :)


  2. #3 by Reem on November 11, 2010 - 4:49 pm

    حبيبتي وأختي الصغرى أروى: أنا فعلا كنت قلقانة جدا عليكي في الرحلة هذه وخاصة أني جاورتك اثناء اتخاذ قرار الذهاب .. لكن الآن وبعد قراءتي لهذه المقالة الرائعة من روائعك المعتادة أقول لك اذهبي .. وارتقي.. واصعدي فوق السحاب .. كما عهدتك دوما تحبين النظر من الأعلى فمارسي هوايتك المعهودة في حفظ الله وسلامته
    أروى: بلا شك أنت مقدامة وشجاعة.. كوني دوما على حذر، فمن خاف سلم.. في انتظار أخبار رحلتك هذه خطوة بخطوة ولحظة بلحظة.. ربنا معاكي
    أروى: حين تتخطين السحاب وتنظرين اليه من أعلى وقد اختلط عليك السحاب الأبيض بالثلج الأبيض ، عندها فقط اذكريني وادعي لنفسك ولعائلتك كلها . نسأل الله أن يجمعنا في الجنة في عليين.. آميين


  3. #4 by Omar Samra on November 11, 2010 - 6:14 pm

    will be great to have you back on the mountain with us :) I am sure you will do great like you did on Kili. And I am even more sure that this will be a more amazing experience, the Himalayas are my favorite place of all.


    • #5 by Arwa Mahmoud on December 1, 2010 - 6:18 am

      Got your comment now that I’m back and online again. It was a great experience Omar! Something I’ll be telling to my grandchildren! Thanks for everything and for all your support :)


  4. #6 by Sara on November 12, 2010 - 12:44 pm

    Wow! Very powerful writing, mashaaAllah. Good luck. Looking forward to your pictures from Everest’s peaks.


    • #7 by Arwa Mahmoud on December 1, 2010 - 6:18 am

      Thanks a lot Sara! I’m preparing my blog series on it now :)


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