Asia | Nepal – Iceclimbing, part II

Asia | Nepal – Iceclimbing, part II

Another rest day today – meaning that I’m running out of time and will not be able to join the team if they are going to go over the Mingbo La and then Amphu Lhatse. Something that isn’t sure yet anyway, it all depends on how the climbing is going on Ombigaichan…
It’s clear by now (after yesterday’s ordeal) that Jo & myself will not join the others for the climb to the top – too technical… so I won’t be the first Dutch woman to have conquered Ombigaichan, snif, but hey, I might come back someday!

Yesterday was a very very hard day.
We left a bit late (8.20 am) and immediately I felt I didn’t have a lot of strength in my legs. We reached our snowboots hide and changed into them, clambering over the rocks. A terrible exercise – imagine wearing your skiboots (closed) and trying to do rock climbing… When we arrived at the point where we needed to put on our crampons, my legs felt so jelly that I decided to throw my pride overboard and tell Victor I wasn’t sure whether I could make it today. As it would be difficult to go 1/2 way up and then having to abandon (meaning I’d put the whole team in a difficult position), we agreed it would be better if I stayed here and wandered back to camp after a while.
Charles & Victor kept on saying that I could still change my mind… and in my foolishness (I was rather pissed off with my legs for letting me down so badly) I said: ‘Let’s do it!’
So off we went. Cramponning up on the snow was not too bad, the 2nd rocky part (no crampons) horrible again. Then, back at the icefall again… it was still tough, but I felt a lot better than 2 days ago.
Made it up to the top of the fall, probably more on will power than on musclepower and after only 1 nasty bit this time, wishing for just a little rest to recover my breath (remember we’re at 53 or 54 something meter!), only to find myself clipped in again straight away, to go up, and up, and up, …
1 – 2 – 1 – 2, it’s the only way of surviving here. Just put one foot in front of the other, and then again, look at your feet and do not look up, because it’ll only be utterly frustrating that the Mingbo La does not seem to get an inch closer whereas you feel you must surely have covered at least 50 meters since the last time you looked up…
We made it to our favorite picnic spot and I just sunk to my knees to catch my breath and try to restore some kind of normal breathing pattern – exhausted is the word…
Added to my slight tiredness was the fact we were getting pressed for time, therefore, and being my usual Dutch pragmatic self, decided I would not climb the Mingbo La but leave that to Victor, Charles & Jo.
Sonam & I walked back to the top of the icefall after some time, where I would wait for the rest and Sonam could go on – not before he hooked my ice axe further up in the snow and tied me up to it! With instructions I was not to move…

It’s wonderful out there.
There is no sound but for the sound of the ice breaking.
Tall magnificent mountains all around you with a majestical Ama Dablam towering above all, unclimbed peaks, pointing snowy and rocky into the blue blue sky, seracs in the most fantastical forms and colours, blue, white, glistening in the sun… J.R.R. must have been here when he wrote Lord of the Rings…
There seem to be tiny glistening particles floating in the air, or is that just my imagination?
I’m all alone in the middle of the Himalayas and yet not lonely, as the mountains are there to keep me company.

I do get a bit worried though, when, slowly but surely, the clouds start to envelop the valley below me, slowly threatening the sun and her warmth.
All of a sudden the place feels a bit chilly and not quite as friendly.
And what if they take another route down? No they can’t.
Or if they fall all off the mountain in a crevasse? Not with Victor in charge.
So I sit and wait, albeit slightly worried and think about what to do if the unthinkable comes true and they don’t come back before the darkness falls… but before long my 3 teammembers appear on top of my little hill and I sigh with relief.

A much quicker retreat this time, with me almost doing OK on the icefall, another hard bit on the rocks and a last bit on the glacier before getting back to our hiking boots.
The light is fading, but during our walk down the most beautiful sunset unfolds, with snowy mountains turning orange, light cascading off thin folds of clouds between the mountains and the strangely, but beautifully formed seracs gleaming mysteriously in the fading light.

We get back to basecamp in the last light.
Exhausted all of us, but happy with another day in these strangely comforting mountains.

Category : Asia | Nepal , Uncategorized