Friday, August 24, 2012
I am lying in my four-person tent with Dan and Brendan at 11,000 camp. Today we climbed just about 2500 feet just outside our next camp called 14,000 camp to bury everything we won't need over the next few days. Somethings we would bury would be food and extra layers of warm gear we won't need until we reach a higher elevation. This is done so that we make two lighter loads rather than one really big one. It was a tough climb today. Each morning we start off by having breakfast prepared for us in the meal tent. We ate hash browns today, no cheese for me! After we eat we pack up for the day. Generally I try to get most things ready the night before, this day not being an exception. Brendan and I were the first two people tied to the ropes with all our gear on. Seems like a good thing, however we had to wait in the freezing cold for everyone else to get ready. This has become a pretty normal thing. We are with a couple guys that are over 50, Dwaine and Jim. Nothing wrong with the guys. Infact they are both quite accomplished climbers. The only thing was they were really slow in the mornings. Our first hill of the day was named motorcycle hill. Not sure why they call it that. I asked the guides and they said "you will want a motorcycle while going up it." We started climbing this hill and it turns out that it's a 35 degree pitch and all ice. We have our crampons on so we made quick work of this hill. It's funny I see people on TV doing exactly what I was doing today by taking two steps, stopping and taking a breath before taking another two steps. As it turns out, there's no other way to do it. We got to the top of motorcycle hill after about 1.5 hours. I loved it. I was feeling really good except my feet were really cold. I knew I was moving my toes but couldn't feel anything. This was the coldest my toes have ever been and is one of the first signs of frostbite. A trick to warm your feet up is to swing one leg at a time back and forth like a pendulum on an old grandfather clock. After several minutes of doing this I began to feel a stinging feeling in my toes. Normally stinging is a bad thing but in this case the stinging feeling was the blood coming back into my toes. No frostbite for this guy!
The rest of the climb was similar, with steep frozen walls of ice. Going up these hills was the first time that I realized that mountain climbing is dangerous. We are all tied to each other so if one of us were to slip and slide down the hill everyone else could dive to he ground throwing their ice axes into the ice and be able to stop the people from sliding to far. Good idea in theory however I feel very strongly that if someone starts sliding we are all going to be taken down with him. This was running through my mind when we were traveling a short section called Windy Corner. As you can probably figure out it gets it's name from all the wind. We had to stop just before we got into this area and put our helmets on to protect us from the 100s of precarious rocks that hung from the mountainside. We knew that this section was not a joke due to all the out of place rocks that littered the snow around us. As we started our trek through this area we were told to move quickly. Now thinking back that there are 4 of us tied together and we are going around the side of a mountain with falling rocks that's named windy corner; you could imagine that I was a little worried. We were walking across the hill trying to stand upright. We were pulling sleds that slid from behind us to beside us. Any mistake we would have slid down this hill to an edge that would be our maker. I took every step very carefully hoping that the people I was tied to were doing to same. After a 20 min sprint around Windy Corner we got to a safe zone. We are currently at 13,000 feet and in a good location to bury our extra goods. At this time I notice a head ache coming on. Very annoying because I have been getting them every time we ascended. Every time this happens I worry its altitude sickness, which would end anyone’s climb and would place them in a lot of danger. I put up with the headache and climbed with my team back to 11,000 camp. We ate supper drank lots of water and told stories while sitting in our snow kitchen. I still have my headache and am hoping it goes away soon.
Posted by Daily Struggle at 8:35 PM