THE BLOG

How to Love at High Altitude

19/09/2014 11:22 BST | Updated 17/11/2014 10:59 GMT

You know the feeling when you're so knackered you're being sucked into the vortex of your own bed. Then imagine there is so little oxygen in the air, you'd be better off breathing with a plastic bag over your head. It's as warm as a freezer, the wind is so strong it's lifting up the sides of the tent. And your partner is frisky.

Aconcagua is a 7000m mountain in Argentina, the highest peak outside the Himalayas. I'd never actually realised that normal people could do high altitude mountaineering. It is not that I had considered doing some mountaineering and dismissed it, thinking I was incapable. The idea that normal people could climb mountains hadn't even entered my head. I had thought that high altitude stuff was done by icicle encrusted bearded demi gods, born with crampons on their feet. Then a friend mentioned that he was going to climb it and the pang of jealousy made me realise that I wanted to do something similar. We can all do way more than we think we can, if we give ourselves the chance.

First, I did Kilimanjaro, a 6000m mountain in Africa. Never had I felt so ill or so fulfilled as on that summit day. With the expanse of Africa in front of me, I realised all the sickness, pain and discomfort were worth it and Aconcagua beckoned. I asked a few friends if they wanted to come along. They all said 'yes' having no idea what they were agreeing to. There's nothing like surrounding yourself with positive people to get stuff happening.

So off we trooped, and on the way we started chattering about what we were all expecting. On these big mountains some of the time is spent working really hard, suffering physically and mentally, being careful to avoid frostbite, sunburn, altitude illnesses and exhaustion, but the majority of the time is lolling about gossiping, playing, and doing nothing whilst your body acclimatises. And this is where the truth was revealed. I was on the mountain partly because I was training for an ultra marathon. One of the girls was keen to lose weight, another just to see what it was all like. And my boyfriend? He wanted to know how high he could have sex. Couldn't have cared less about the summit, just wanted some high altitude loving.

So, we came to a compromise. We would give it a go after trying for the summit. The summit successfully happened, and then for the windy, freezing, breathless shag. But I needn't have worried because it was the shortest of my life - about three seconds. Rumour has it that sperm isn't viable above about 4000 metres, so we didn't need to worry about contraception. But my boyfriend felt like the King of the Mountain. Out of the tent he shot straight afterwards, proclaiming his prowess to all of the Andes. He was a virile mountain god, and has never bothered coming on any mountaineering trips with me since. His goal well and truly achieved at 6,200m.