a long run up to a climax which unravels rather rapidly. And so the
last days of the expedition which hold the summit highlight are told
We shifted camp to ABC the day after our technical gear had been
ferried. Due to our long acclimatisation period the increased altitude
of 4800m was not a problem, though the camp on top of the glacier was
notably colder than base camp. The new dome tents presented us with a
yet unencountered problem: how to fit four people into one tent to
play a round of hearts. A rather cozy affaire...
The following morning saw an early shift to Camp 1. Of course we
carried all the supplies up ourselves ('we' excludes myself from most
of the heavy lugging). On our way up we saw the remnants from a plane
crash in the last century scattered along the valley. Camp was set up
in the snow with CB13A towering over us.
A round of Scrabble and a plate of maggi 2-minute noodles was the last
we managed before falling into an early slumber, ready to wake up
before the crack of dawn to start the ascent. A cup of tea, a bowl of
PVM instant maize meal and we were rearing to go. Placing good faith
in our abilities, Rinku allowed us to lead the route. We split into
two teams - in the front Matt and I were lead by Jon (who got guidance
from Rinku) for most of the way. Following closely and overtaking us
towards the end were Hannes and Tim lead by Brendan (and guided by
Under 'summit' one tends to expect a defined high point, a solid snow
platform on which one can sit for a while, a clear blue sky and a
far-stretching view over snow-capped mountains. Our summit was none of
the above. Half an hour before reaching the summit it started to snow.
Our view was obstructed by a mass of white and cloud. The summit
itself was very undefined and we had to huddle together closely to
make it onto the rocky outcrop at 6239m. Even so there wasn't really
space for everyone and for all we knew there could have been 300m of
rock above us. But that's how it goes, conditions aren't always
perfect and we spent the following seven hours edging down the
mountain little by little in snow and rain.
To the team: pat on the back. We succesfully completed our mission of
summiting a technical peak over 6000m. To Rinku, Bhagwan and Mohan,
thanks for your guidance, patience and instruction.
Some indirect summit quotes from the team (what they did and didn't
say and how I interpreted it):
Glover: "Maybe front pointing 900m of mountain was not the best idea"
(note that Jon lead most of those 900m!)
Tiger Perks: "It was chilled. Can we do it again? Especially the 7
hours of rapelling in the snow storm."
Davey Gra...wait, not allowed to call him that. Didn't say much,
suspect he was tired. Defnitely got his energy back when it came to
bumsliding the last 100m though: "Thank goodness I took my crampons
off before that bump sent me flying!"
Ha(r)nes(s): I didn't see or hear much of him, as he was mostly
speeding up the mountain behind Brendan. Seems like a dislocated
shoulder isn't really an obstacle after all...
Brendan the machine: was seriously lacking oil (ie food) so "let's do
CB14 this afternoon" turned into a hungry silence from which he only
recovered the following day.
me: for the entire summit ascent there was just one thought on my mind
- "walk like a reindeer in winter". Translated this means walk slow
enough to conserve maximum energy so that you can make it back to camp
without collapsing of fatigue (as reindeer may do if they expend too
much energy in winter)
Modest Mix: came to the conclusion that altitude and Indian food
aren't her thing, so she left us to discover Spiti instead.
The expedition may be over, but 10 days of Indian travel and one more
blog post remain. So stay tuned...
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