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