Ama Dablam Diary – Clearing Town

October 10, 2014

Ama dablam Diary 2906 October 2014. I am looking at a pack that is not as tightly or comprehensively loaded as it could be , and at two smaller bags which I hope will withstand the rigours of yak travel for a month. Those two bags look deflated as well. I run the checklist again and, despite my misgivings figure I have everything packed which I need. And all that I can get my hands on in Kabul. Surely there should be more? Tomorrow I head to Nepal with a view to climb Ama Dablam. It’s no big deal for the hard core climbing folks but I remind myself that only 26 months ago I was in Nepal looking at those inspiring Himalayan peaks and thinking I should climb one of them. Read more

Don’t Step on the Crack (Chance of Injury or Death. Or a Laugh)

February 20, 2014

tasman290Apparently the prospect, memory or concept of sex crosses the male mind every eight minutes on average. (Who measures these things? And how?) If ever there is a cure for the wandering mind it’s a four hour walk down a glacier in summertime, when crevasses are open, icy maws with white flecked palates and blue throats that drop into deep dark throats, the bottom of some being invisible. No mind, not even a male one, wanders off when the next step into soft snow might have you crashing into empty space. It happened on numerous occasions this morning. Despite being VERY focused on where I was placing my feet. Read more

Hochstetter Traverse

February 19, 2014

crevasse290I woke at first light, snuck out in the icey slap your face cold to the latrine, then snuggled back into the sleeping bag only to be told ten minutes later it was time to get up. Arrgghh. Read more

Storm Warning – Ignored

February 15, 2014

storm 290The ink does not want to flow, while my hands are barely able to grip the pen. It’s zero degrees in the hut at the moment and snow drift has been blasted in and sits on the sill. Water in pots inside is frozen. Vapour blows from mouth and nostrils as I eat a breakfast of ham and eggs. Thanks Carolyn. She is having a crack at  pancakes  as well. They taste great but she regrets the state of their delivery. I tell her I am ‘eating for effect’ and what they look like doesn’t matter. Besides, the effort and thought counts for much more and I am grateful for her cooking. I slept well, though as the temperature dropped I woke, chilled a little around my exposed shoulders. A quick adjustment of the bag liner, pulling on the Nepalese cap, and I was cosy again. My sleeping bag is not rated for these conditions but the liner should allow me to handle -10 if it comes to that.  I am betting on that not happening. Read more

Inside an Elysium Fridge

February 5, 2014

storm290A storm smashes the hut an hour before our colleagues arrive back from the top of the Tasman Glacier where they have been doing crevasse and ice work. We are surprised that they were  able to find their way in such a white out and had half expected them to make for the Tasman Saddle Hut. As I sit down to fill in the journal they are stomping snow and ice off themselves in the foyer, a neutral air lock of sorts between the kitchen and the outdoors. They stagger in one by one, eying off the steaming kettle, disheveled and wooly and looking mildly surprised at their own arrival in this haven – and possibly survival. Read more

Mt Alymer

February 3, 2014

alymer290We climbed to the top of Mt Alymer (2699m) today and sat up there and had lunch lodged in a rocky eyrie. (That’s the peak curving away to the right of the picture). Having scribbled that note I realize it makes the ascent more prosaic than I felt at the time of doing it. It was a nice steep warm up exercise and in the scheme of things it’s a pimple. But I should never detract from any accomplishment since it represents one step towards even bigger feats. Read more

What Goes Up Must Come Down – Until Next Time

December 2, 2012

The previous evening the snow started in just before six thirty, and just as three others hove into view in the saddle below the hut. They struggle through the knee deep snow and we symapthise and put the kettle on then start into our own dinner. Wolfgang cooks up a mean stir fry but as he is quick to admit alpine climbers are not fussy eaters and at the end of a hard day will almost anything without complaining. He sells himself short because it’s actually quite tasty, helped of course by a fine Pinot Gris which washes it all down. Two Belgians and their Welsh/Kiwi guide bustle in. They are looking a little worse for wear but are very friendly and they fit straight in. They seem to appreciate the hot coffee. And a gingernut biscuit helps revive them. Once settled they pore over maps of the ranges. We wonder at the lack of technical kit given we know what is ahead of us. Have I mentioned knife edges? Read more

Taking a Step when You Shouldn’t

December 2, 2012

Fear is in the pit of my gut fed by tidbits of “What ifs” that are impossible to repel. What if I lose my footing? My balance? What if the snow slope gives way (the avalanches on Middle Peak crack and rumble across the valley from us and we watch the snow and rock cascade in to the glacier below us) What if I can’t self arrest? How far is it to the valley floor below me that I cannot even see? (Okay, that was not a “what if” but it fuels the fear nonetheless).  And then I surprise myself and lift a foot and move it forward with conviction so the crampon bites and off I go towards a lip of snow over which I have no idea what exists. Read more

You Peak Bagger You

November 21, 2012

I have been freaked out!! All day. Along knife edges. Up ice and rock. More knife edges. One preceded by “if you have to choose, fall right not left. If you fall right you are less likely to die.” He was serious. Heck, so was I. I actually started the day marveling at the teal blue light that beams out of the ice when I withdraw the ice pick. As if a soft neon light was lit under the ice. Why does no one ever write about that when they are talking about the mountains? There is glory and majesty underfoot it turns out, just as much as there is on my horizon. Read more

Mind Over Matter Over Ice

November 19, 2012

I slept well though under the shadow of a migraine. Altitude and hard work and my dreams are vivid and ridiculous and I turn through the night to get away from them. We cracked a window to ensure we didn’t suffocate and I enjoyed the cold air blowing over my face although we rose to a drift of snow across the floor. I lay in bed ‘playing trains” with the vapour form my breath. First order of business however was digging out the latrines. Nothing like shoveling a few cubic metres of drifted snow to focus on what is really essential. To my amusement the kea pestering us yesterday appeared with her two chicks and quickly we were playing a game of “I’ll throw (a shovelful of snow) you duck” Score: about a 5 all draw. By the time I was done I am well and truly warmed up and the overnight polys came off very quickly. Read more

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