One of the biggest lessons K2 has already taught me, is to cherish and understand the impact of a great support network.
Without our support networks, we would never be able to spread our wings and set our sights on our biggest goals.
Everything we achieve in life, we stand on the shoulders of those that we love. For even the smallest things that they do take time and thought and effort, with the hope that that little thing will make a big difference to us. That it will make our journey along the path less travelled a little kinder, and that we will take them with us along the way.
Support networks come in all shapes and forms. For me, I am so blessed to have so much support. From friends who have sent cards, emails and good luck trinkets, to my mum, who has washed clothes, cooked dinners, bitten her tongue when I’ve been making a mess whilst packing, and all the time holds back the fact that she does not want me to go.
Then there’s my Dad, who was always the person who told me to follow my dreams, and who had my corner when few others did. I wouldn’t have gotten very far in life if I didn’t have him tell me he believed I could anything I put my mind to.
Then, there’s the support of a mentor, and I had that in my Step-Dad. Rob has always guided me and taught me the importance of working hard, having discipline and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
So, I can proudly say that I have always had great support since the day I was born. I am incredibly lucky to be able to say that. Without my parents love and guidance, I certainly wouldn’t have had the courage to climb Mount Everest aged 22. I wouldn’t have had the knowledge, or skills or self belief to do a lot of the things I have done.
As we go through life, our support networks change and grow.
I met my boyfriend, Adrian, just over 8 months ago. Today, this entire journey, in my eyes, is completely bound up in wanting to get back safely to him.
When we met, I instantly felt like I had a partner in crime. Somebody who I could be spontaneous and adventurous with. Someone who would have my back, and I would have his.
Little did we both know that K2 would become just as much Adrian’s project as mine. He became chief strategist, website designer, agent and training coach. He slept for months in a hypoxic tent with me, and in his own words “hated every second”. He set up meetings, wrote spreadsheets, sourced kit, and got me doing “just one more rep”, all whilst juggling his own business and commitments.
He’s also been a boyfriend and life partner, saying the right things when I’ve been lacking in confidence, or feeling scared. He’s given me guidance when I’ve faced tough decisions, and has always made me feel very loved.
Without his support, I would not be on a plane to Pakistan right now.
As the trip has drawn closer, the realisation that I won’t have my partner in crime with me every dayhas been hard to prepare for. We are both independent characters and are used to going away on long trips, but I’ve never felt so strongly that I have something much more important than myself to return for, that perhaps I don’t want to leave behind in the first place.
At the airport just now, we said to each other that if something happens and we never see each other again, we’ve had the most incredible 8 months. He’s given me all the support he can, now it’s time for me to go and do what we’ve worked so hard for, and to make sure I come back to him.
Maybe you’re not heading off on an expedition to climb a dangerous mountain, but every day you are stepping out into the world and taking risks.
Be thoughtful of the people who see you off on your adventures in life. Who worry about you even when they have their own worries. Who make little efforts every day to make your life more special and easier. Who bring you breakfast in bed, or run an errand you needed doing. Who agonise over a gift, or organise their day around when they can see you.
Show your support network how much you cherish them too. Go the extra mile. Put your needs second. Do something little that to them will make a big difference. Show them that you care, and that you appreciate their support.
Without our support networks, we would be nothing. And, we would have nobody to share our best and worst moments with. What would be the point of going it alone?
Mountaineers are seen as very selfish characters, but every time we stand atop a mountain, we are there because of the love and support of many. We represent the combined efforts, dreams and worries of those who have worked tirelessly to help us get there. From Sherpas to sponsors, family and friends, partner’s in crime to climbing partners and everyone in between.
As I head off on this next adventure, I am bound up in love and am supported by so many, and I want everyone reading this to understand that however far I get on this journey, I am standing on the shoulders of my support crew.
I cannot wait to see them again, to give them a hug and thank them for helping me to live my dream.