In February of this year, our sponsored mountaineer and endurance athlete Derek Mahon (Senior Qualified Financial Planner with Tara Financial Partners) had to abandon his attempts at reaching the peak of Aconcagua as a part of his 7 Summits/7 continents challenge due to health reasons. Now he is back and more determined than ever. Over the next five weeks, he will share with us, his mental and physical preparation, in order to reach his goal. Derek, we wish you all the best and we support your efforts wholeheartedly.
Time is the Healer. Experience is the Teacher.
The old expression that ‘’Time is the healer’’ is so true in many respects. But time in my case since my non-summit of Aconcagua last January has made me so much more focused and so much more determined to return and try again. The memories of that morning sitting at 6,500 meters are all still so vivid – the bitter cold, the wind chill, the spin drift, day breaking, taking shelter and trying to keep warm. My fingers and toes were tingling. I immediately knew my core temperature was plummeting as my system shut down extremities while guarding my vital organs. The thumping headache and sickly feeling followed quickly. I was very conscious of my situation and the onset of high-altitude sickness. I knew a decision had to be made having seen 4 four bodies taken down from the mountain earlier that week. I decided to retreat and descended to lower camp and returned to base camp ‘’Plaza De Mulas’’ later that day smothered in disappointment but content I had made the right decision for me.
The next morning the 6-hour trek from Plaza de Mulas to the gates of the National Park passing through Confluencia was a real soul search, a post mortem of events. The walk through such a peaceful place was soothing in so many ways. The incredible scenery of mountain ranges towering above you on each side as we descended were breath-taking, the blue skies, the sunshine and warmth were welcome, the condors circling on the warm breezes and the rivers flowing from the mountain glaciers broke the silence.
I reflected and questioned what had gone wrong if I could have done better, if I should have pushed higher ignoring the physical signs, if there is a next time how would I improve myself physically and mentally, what I would do different … many questions and few answers but time, reflection and guidance I believed would tell!
As we reached our pick up at Penitentes I had decided I would return but I knew I had to return stronger and wiser. The first objective for me was to return with a stronger and better expedition company. I very quickly committed to the 2019 7Summits expedition. It also meant making some other changes and sacrifices, but they would take time to plan and put in place.
Returning home, I had decided to take a month off and regroup. I missed early season adventure races and triathlons as a result, but rest was the priority. I planned a lot more than before for the spring and summer – 4 triathlons, 4 spotifs, 3 adventure race, monthly mountain treks, and climbing. The season has gone really well and I came through with no real injuries and PB’s. Fingers crossed I can stay injury free over the months as I prep for Aconcagua ‘’Round 2’’ … bring it on!
Time has healed. Time has me now better prepared, focused, determined, and driven to succeed.
I have learnt a lot about myself and believe time has rekindled and strengthened even further my unwavering self-belief. Life swings happen for a reason and on reflection January was an experience which needed to be learnt from which will benefit me for future expeditions. I believe there is no such thing as bad experience as all experiences are good experiences which I and we should all learn from. I did learn and continue to learn every day which strengthens my resolve.
Bring It On!