“At once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised.”
< vol. 1 vol.3 >
Of course, Cherry Garrard was writing about Polar exploration, but things are similar here in the cold, snowy mountains. I would have begged to differ about the cleanliness part until my weekly (or is that twice weekly?) wash this morning. The having a bad time part, I definitely agree with. The other night Karim and I were woken by feeble cries outside. Daniele was requesting help. Drowsily we donned semi-frozen boots and crawled out of the tent to find him frantically shovelling snow from around the tent he was sharing with Rahmat, who had woken him up to say they were beginning to suffocated due to the snow building up around the walls of the tent.
So before 4am, we took turns with the shovel and were soon back in bed for a few hours sleep. I should explain that the position of camp three (circa 5,700m) is situated actually in a crevasse/bergshrund. When Karim and I had arrived several hours earlier, we had spent two hours digging the tent out from under a meter of snow.
The first time we reached this camp, it had been a long slog with heavy packs against a biting wind. There were three of us, with a two man tent. I decided to do the decent thing and descended back down to camp two and had a nice quiet night. Meanwhile, Daniele vomited in his dinner and Karim had a sore head, neither had a pleasant night. We were all back in basecamp the next day.
We rested a couple of days. I worked out a fun drytooling traverse on a nearby boulder to keep us amused for a few hours.
Back at camp three. Despite being in a sheltered position there is always wind in that bloomin' awful place. Taking your outer gloves off to do any delicate task means wet inner gloves within minutes due to spindrift. Because it is such an uncomfortable place the thought of sitting out one day of bad weather wasn’t even considered. Rahmat was still struggling with a sore throat and Karim had pulled something in his back, so they descended. Daniele headed up the gully that is a prominent feature of the Mummery spur. Finally, we were actually doing some climbing, after so much glacier slogging. We carried tent, sleeping bags, stove, food etc. with us. The intention being to sleep that night at camp four. There was continual spindrift. Blustery wind. To look up meant a facefull of snow.
Really good Scottish-like conditions, except at altitude.
Even, long pitches led to the proposed site of our camp, ca. 6000m. Daniele looked puzzled (from what I could see under goggles and all wrapped up) because where he had spent the night with Elizabeth Revol in 2013 just didn’t exist anymore. No snow ridge. We could barely stand up in the wind. So, we left a rucksack full of kit attached to a trio of ice screws and abseiled back down to camp 3. The usual situation here, spindrift. Into the tent for a rehydrated meal. It went dark. Headlamps switched on and off down the mountain. Exhausted we reached basecamp at 9pm. We were very glad of the fresh tracks left by Karim and Rahmat to help us back. Without we probably wouldn't have arrived until nearer midnight .
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