I’d been told by the team that once onto the final switchbacks it got flatter and easier. I was completely demoralized, once there, to find the opposite. The rocks filling the “road” were bigger and harder to gain traction. So much for the differences in perception of hikers and wheelchair hikers! But light was beginning to fade on the east side of the peak, and a cold rush of urgency spurred me to just look down and push forward. This was some kind of demon’s joke! It got so much more difficult and I was in so much pain that I felt like just sitting there, stopping and hoping something would change. I looked up, and the Summit Lab seemed almost within touching distance, all of a sudden! Yow! Maybe it’ll finally happen, ya think? I came up the final two turns, cursing like a drunken sailor at every rock, every slippery patch….and of course the final 20 feet were the toughest. It took all I had left to churn around the corner and suddenly be level with the Summit Lab, Summit Register…I was almost in tears. Only exhaustion kept me from completely breaking down like a kid on Christmas morning after getting his Red Ryder BB Gun. Tom, Rick and Cheryl took photos, and there was a completely unforced whoop of elation from everyone. Ten hours and 45 minutes after we’d set off, at 6:44 PM I made the summit – 14,246 feet.
This is what I recall: I got to the summit a few hours ahead and just dawdled, took a few pictures, soaked up the scenery, and looked for signs of Bob on the trail below. He was moving at a crawl, but like the seasons changing, he just kept coming.