Meagan: I love both [high altitude mountaineering and polar skiing] - it's just that simple. I wouldn't spend my time doing something I didn't enjoy - life is way too short for that!
ExWeb interview with Meagan McGrath (final), My sense of achievement was more than I would have felt if I hadn't fallen into the crevasse
Posted: Oct 22, 2010 08:40 am EDT
In Part 1 Meagan told ExWeb about her fall in the crevasse at Hercules inlet on Antarctica and how scared she was to start again. Today she tells more about the influence off the fall as well as about her recent experience on K2.
She also compared the mountains and poles, I find climbing in the mountains to be very civilized and a "gentleman's" sport. Sure, mountain climbing is dangerous  Polar expeditions are hardcore, grueling endeavors. In the polar realm, you are out there for weeks and weeks, no break - no rest - you have to give and give and give.
ExplorersWeb: How much influence did this experience have on the rest of your expedition positive and negative?
Meagan: When I decided to go out again, I was still a bit unsteady... I did a practice the day before I was going to go out, and I made painfully slow progress as I poked the snow ahead of me with each step.
I was spooked! Who wouldn't be!?! So the day I headed out, I wasn't in a good mood. I was a bit scared! I knew I couldn't quit - I would regret it for the rest of my life.
When I completed the expedition - I think I felt a relief I wouldn't have otherwise felt. I realized when I was standing at the South Pole mirror ball - that my sense of achievement was more than I would have felt if I hadn't fallen into the crevasse.
I had carried on after I had a scare of a lifetime - I did it! :-) I wasn't scared off! I really dug down and I knew it!
ExplorersWeb: You were attempting K2 in August the mountaineers mountain. How did you experience the mountain?
Meagan: I had planned on going to K2 with a partner. He had to bail off the trip at the very last minute, and so I found myself landing in Islamabad without a real idea of what I would be climbing. Maybe I had just paid a lot of money to go on a trek down the Baltoro.
I was going to speak with my logistics agency in Pakistan and see what I could do. As fate would have it, however, Fabrizio Zangrilli (well known K2 climber and working with FTA this 2010 season), happened to be waiting in the airport for the same logistics agency to pick him up. We got chatting and realized that we were embarking on the same expedition plan, Broad Peak and then K2.
We went to Skardu on the same day, and ended up in the same hotel in Skardu (not too hard a feat, considering how many hotels there are in Skardu!) I explained to him my original intentions, and how I'd brought gear for fixing lines and how I wanted to climb these mountains with as little HAP [high altitude porters] support as possible.
I guess he realized that I was serious about wanting to climb these mountains, and that I wanted to contribute and participate in the climb - not just be a tourist - and he invited me onto the FTA team. Honestly, this was one of the best things that has happened to me! Because I became part of a larger group, I was able to make better progress on these mountains than I otherwise would have made.
K2 was an experience.
If you can't climb up without the lines then don't go there - chances are high that the fixed lines will be compromised from the falling rocks cutting the lines.
If you can't climb down without the lines then don't go there - chances are they are frozen in the slope - there aren't hundreds of people climbing and using the lines every day.
You need to have skills - but mostly, you need to have guts to climb K2. Courage and cahones - if you don't have these, then don't bother. It doesn't take skill to traverse paths of flying rocks, but it does take courage. You either got it or you don't.
ExplorersWeb: Will you try K2 again?
Meagan: Yes. Yes. Yes. I've had my first taste of climbing the mountain. You can read all you want about K2. Going there and climbing it is its own experience. Now that I have a true idea of what to expect, I can tighten the necessary skills and make a solid attempt next time. And I'm definitely looking forward to going back!
ExplorersWeb: What differences and similarities are there between the polar areas and the mountains?
Meagan: The differences are huge!! LOL!!
I find climbing in the mountains to be very civilized and a "gentleman's" sport. Sure, mountain climbing is dangerous, but after climbing for a few days on a mountain, you can return to base camp and have a shower; eat in a mess tent on chairs; eat fresh baked apple pie!
Polar expeditions are hardcore, grueling endeavors. In the polar realm, you are out there for weeks and weeks, no break - no rest - you have to give and give and give. The same scenery - staring at your compass for hours a day - hauling everything you need for your survival in a desert blowing -45Â°C winds! No shower, no chairs, no apple pie! LOL!!! I love it, baby!!! :-)
ExplorersWeb: Which one do you prefer?
Meagan: It 's hard to say which I prefer... I like each for different reasons.
I like the views and the exercise of mountain climbing - sometimes you reach the summit, sometimes you don't - reaching the top is a bonus. I really love the decision making - the consequences of poor decision making in mountain climbing are huge - it matters what you decide - that's my favorite part.
In the polar world, it's harder to say specifically what it is that I like... I think because you're out there for so long, the feeling of accomplishment is so fulfilling and overwhelming. (Hey, I also like that my body gets really cut and fine-looking! LOL!)
So I love both sports - it's just that simple. I wouldn't spend my time doing something I didn't enjoy - life is way too short for that!
ExplorersWeb: Future plans?
Meagan: As always, I'm working on a couple of projects! I have to return to work for a bit and earn some money, but I hope to make these projects happen! Stay tuned!
[Ed note: Click here for Part 1 of the interview Optimism helped me realize that falling in a crevasse wasn't hopeless]
Canadian Meagan McGrath was born in 1977 and lives in Ottawa, Ontario where she works as an Aerospace Engineer at the Canadian Air Force (she holds the rank of major).
In 2002 Meagan McGrath started her quest for the Seven Summits, which she achieved in January 2008 on top of Carstenz Pyramid in Indonesia. She also climbed Kosciuszko, Australia (April 2006) as part of the Seven Summits. On 21 May 2007 she stood on top of Mount Everest.
Meagan completed the 245.3 km Marathon Des Sables in the Moroccan section of the Sahara Desert; a seven-day run equivalent to five and a half regular marathons. She ran and walked on uneven rocky, stony ground, and sand dunes in temperatures up to 48Â°C.
At the end of November 2009 Meagan took on a new challenge by skiing to the South Pole in temperatures in the opposite scale of the thermometer. After a fall in a crevasse near the Hercules Inlet Start, she was rescued by ALE staff. She started over solo again, this time from the SP base camp, Patriot Hills. Meagan arrived at the South Pole on January 15, 2010.
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