Within understanding the human physiology, there has been a long-going study acclimatization. Thus all the strongest climbers spend a lot of time acclimatizing by trekking and climbing for at least two months before serious high-altitude projects. And look at the recent fashion of “climbing from the plane", when the simplest trekking is perceived as acclimatization (although it is not). Here comes an emergency condition, which two generations of climbers have already successfully passed.
The sign that it is time to go back down is very simple to spot. At the foot of the mountain you should have a detailed plan through which you must realize what you have to do almost in steps. While on route, you identify plans with your ascent. And if something goes wrong, you have to assess whether you're willing to take risks, or not. Not ready? Go down.
For example, you thought that there would be ice on route, and then it is rocks, the ice melted. Or you thought you were going to climb 10 ropes a day, and took supplies for 5 days, but for some reason climb only one or two ropes a day. You must immediately solve the equation: if you have a speed of 5 times lower, then you will climb not in 5 days, but in 25. And you prepared supplies for 5 days... What will happen on the 7th day? Does it make sense to continue the ascent? That's it, that’s all.
One needs to understand that no matter how strong, agile and healthy you are, from the nature’s point of view you are nothing. You can adjust to the situation, use the tools, but if it is not enough — in some situations you just must go back.
Imagine if a hunter went hunting a hare, and there were bears in the forest, and hunter was like, "Well, okay, I have a shotgun for a hare, but I will forage for a bear"! — No one will do so in theirs right mind. But for some reason it became possible in mountaineering. Maybe sometimes people just stop thinking?
Choosing Your Climbing Partner
Of course it is better to go with trusted partners, but unfortunately modern life is such, that somebody with whom you went through hell and high water, can often not bear company. But the choice of a climbing partner is certainly very important. You should go to extra-class mountain only with a person you know really well. Recently, there have been a lot of inverse examples, and results were also similar.
In any team there is always an inspirer, who makes you move forward. There should also be a "skeptic", who can say at a critical moment: "Sorry, guys, we’re having it all wrong"! So, in terms of motivation, people should balance each other.
It happens: one’s expectations may not be manifested in real life as one wanted to. And if climbing turns out more difficult than planned, and the reality is different from initial idea, you have to make a tough decision. As such, do not forget to ask yourself a question "What will happen, if...?” more often.
I turned back many times, sometimes without even going on the route. It's a pity, of course, but it is better this way. It happened at times that we did not even see the mountain, and I understood already that we would not climb it.
What About the Vanity?
In order to deal with sports vanity you better go to a shrink. There is a more global question of goal-setting to climber, as well as any other person: what do you want to get from your life? If you do not understand yourself, this unnecessary tinsel in the form of a Piolet D’Or or other award can put some really important values at risk.
Compilation: Marina Sivokon. Translation: Natasha Poletaeva