Friday, 6 July 2012

Summit Attempt: Part 2

We are all quite relieved to have a nice proper break, get the packs off, have a snack and just enjoy the views...they were spectacular and words really cannot describe the immense beauty and sheer brilliance of the clouds, slopes, mountains and skies...
I desperately needed to wee by this stage, but as I was the only lady I thought I would rather hold it in until we got to the top of the slope...Yuriy said it would take about another 90minutes or so, and insisted I rather go immediately...well all the guys sprang into action, build me a ledge (flat area) and now it was up to me to strip off the layers...first problem:  what about my harness?? do I take the whole thing off? Anyway I was told to just loosen the leg straps (clever!!) strip the layers and squat!  I had to take off my mitts, grab my layers and get them down, all whilst being aware not to pee on the loose straps or my there I was at 5000m in the clouds, squatting whilst watching the sunrise and the planet Venus...I could think of worse things to be doing in my life!!
My wee carried on....and on....and on...and them some...Joe eventually asked me what the hell I was doing haha - I just laughed and said it won't stop! By the time I got my pants back on I had peed a cavern so deep I couldn't see the end of it haha!
Yuriy even said, sho-good thing you went you must be at least 2kg lighter now, the climb will be easy haha (says the strong Russian who can climb those slopes in his sleep)!

We got going again and it's just a slow slog, left and up, then right and up...all the time I can see the crest of the slope, but it just never seems to get any closer...I cannot believe how deceptive snow one point I thought hooray just 2 flags to go, I made this first section, and then oh no, there's another row of flags behind this row!?! The wind was also blowing a bit, and my thumbs were really going very numb and burny...I kept doing the arm swing thing and also wriggling my fingers as much as I could whilst still trying to grip my poles in those large mitts!  I had the most awful finger and hand cramps from this...those mitts are not designed to do anything with...I also found my left pole kept twisting as my grip wasn't tight enough around it.
I never took my pack off again until we got to the saddle around lunch time...I just found it easier to sit down on the slope with it on thank taking off the straps etc etc, besides I never really felt it was weighing me down anyway!  Joe generally fed me water, or got goodies out for me, I never really felt like eating anything, the slushy I drank seemed enough for me - my carb/electrolyte/game mix was so divine, but freezing with chunks of slushy ice in it - and my Nalgene bottles had insulators on and were inside my pack...shows you how cold these temperatures were getting!

I kept glancing back, the clouds below and bits of peaks sticking out - it was just awe inspiring...and I knew I was home right then...the mountains are just so a part of me...I cannot think of anything else I would rather be doing, or any other holiday I would want to experience!
Let me not kid you though, it was tough, it was so damn hard, it was probably the hardest thing I've done....but not once did I think to myself..'why are you here', or 'i'm not going to make it', I knew it was what I came here for, what I've wanted all along and I was just doing what I needed to to make it happen!  No one ever said that the great things were going to be easy...I was experiencing one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I was going to soak in all my surroundings no matter how hard it became!

We did eventually reach the end of the slow slog slope...and then we had the long traverse to tackle before reaching the saddle - I stupidly thought the end of the slope ridge was going to be the saddle, but no! The traverse is also very tricky, very exposed and by now the sun was shining very brightly!  Yuriy had to work really hard in breaking trail, and we could see a few other groups also coming up behind us.  We sat on the side of the slope for a small break - Jayson was not doing well at all, he was extremely nauseous, had a bad headache and nothing they did seemed to be helping him.  Ray was giving him loads of fluids etc to try and get him to feel better.  Whilst we were all waiting, another group who were roped together overtook us, but a few meters after doing this they just came to a complete standstill!?   Turns out, they are too weak and too scared to go ahead and break trail, and they expected our guide Yuriy to go ahead and do it! The nerve! Why overtake us then if you are just going to cause a bottleneck and split us from our guide?? I was not impressed at all! So Yuriy had to go ahead and work his butt off, whilst we had to trudge along behind this long group of people!  Eventually Yuriy came back to us and we had to stop again as by now Jay was totally not right anymore, and Doc was also very very tired.  Yuriy was also getting very impatient as we were losing a lot of time and he wanted everyone to make decisions immediately or we would be risking everyone's summit attempt - we had lost an hour by now.  Yuriy told the doc that he felt he was too tired to continue up the summit ridge, and the doc agreed that he was very tired.  Robby would also turn back, taking Jay down as well to recuperate at a lower altitude.  So Yuriy, Joe, Ray and myself continued along the traverse into the saddle.

The traverse went on forever...felt like hours to me! I could also feel I was being burnt by the sun, I couldn't seem to keep my buff up and over my nose as it was so wet from condensation already.
All of a sudden, there it was....the saddle, the summit ridge, OH MY WORD!!
I thought Yuriy was joking when he pointed at the summit ridge we had to climb up - there were no tracks, it was SUPER STEEP and it just looked damn scary!  The Saddle is also not as flat as I had imagined it to a few rocks scattered around it was just white and plain!

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