Spending years and thousands of dollars to reach a goal only to turn back at the last moment is a gut wrenching decision that will likely stick with you for the rest of your life. For an absolutely vidid and emotional look at one of those moments while near the top of the world, check out the blog post from Nelson here, specifically the Summit Day post.
“What I realized on this expedition is that summiting Everest takes a lot of things to go perfect and in your favor. So many things. Everyone is different—mentally, physiologically, and physically. Some people have a higher tolerance for cold and pain, some people are stronger for longer periods of time, some people have better patience, some people are more willing to risk things when it comes down to it. Maybe that’s my limiting factor: to what point I’m willing to push my body and to what cost. Maybe I’m too scared of that point and that’s what stops me. Who knows?”
I’ve written before about Ed Viesturs and his words of wisdom, that getting to the top is only half way. It takes someone super in-tune with their own physiological and mental state to be able to make that decision, to turn around. It takes a significant amount of additional bravery to write it up in such an emotional and raw way.