There are certain peaks that every chimpanzee dreams of climbing, and once you've done Kilimanjaro it's pretty much Everest or bust. But lo was I unprepared for the adventure that lay in store for myself and our group of seven mandrills, three lemurs and a pasty-faced tree vole we let tag along for entertainment value.
On our first day at base camp it was mighty cold. We crouched in our tents to avoid the wind, and drank from water bladders to ameliorate dehydration. I read some tea leaves to forestall boredom and then brewed them to fight off the chill. Protective lip balms were applied to ward off the ugly fingers of chapping. We camped there for what seemed like 2 days and 4 nights, but later when I checked the itemized bill I found we had only been there for less than eighteen hours, and that someone had watched a dirty movie and charged it to my tent. It was frickin cold at base camp but we suffered it bravely, after all we had brought it on ourselves and there is no sense complaining about the cold when you are trying to scale an icy mountain summit. It is simply the nature of the beast.
Once we began our ascent, one thing went wrong after another. We inhaled all the Cheetos in the first few hours and the rest of the climb were running on empty quality-snackage-wise. We ran out of extension cords and had to cut loose the space heaters we were using to warm the inner linings of our thermal undergarments. After lunch we lost two lemurs who tried to set up the dart board on the edge of a precipice and found out the hard way that plummeting to your death is a one-way ride.
Nonetheless we kept our chins up and our bellies to the rock face as we inched our way closer and closer to our ultimate goal.
Around two o'clock it became apparent that we might not be able to make the summit that day without risking getting stuck at the top with no way down, and that we'd best look for a place to bivouac. We wasted an hour and a half arguing about how to spell bivouac because a white panther wanted to text his galpal to tell her he wouldn't be home for dinner and he was afraid a misspelling could spell the end of his fragile relationship.
And there we were, facing perhaps the greatest decision any of us will ever make. Having come so far and endured so much, would we have the courage to turn back now? You think about how many chimpanzees have attempted this summit, how many of your fellow great apes have faced that agonizing decision whether to push ahead or to turn back, just hundreds of meters from a lifelong obsession, knowing you may never get another chance to get this close, but at the same time aware of the nearness of death, the number of strong and brave mandrills who have perished on the craggy abutments of this cold, heartless rock.
Most of the group turned back, and I can't say as I blame them. Me and Robbie the Aardvark decided to go for it. But we hadn't climbed another seventy-five meters before Robbie starts weighing me down with major negativity, going on about nothing to go back to, no hope for the aardvark race in the grand scheme of things, how he's not some [
When you're hanging off the side of a jagged cliff with no way up or down, five hundred feet above a horrible death, you have a lotta time to think about your life, why you had kids, or didn't, all those celebrity recipes you never got to try and who you should have taken fifth in your 2007 fantasy football draft.
Maybe the biggest lesson I learned is that no matter how stupid your goal, if anything gets in your way you have to just block it out and push it aside, maybe unhook one of its spikes so that it falls screaming into the abyss rather than weigh you down and stop you from achieving whatever stupid goal you have set for yourself.
Editor's Note: This is a true story in some sense; some names and species have been changed and all the exposed privates blurred in the interest of good old fashioned common decency.