Story and photos by David Morton
I’m sitting, drinking another cup of tea at base camp. Yep, still.
I’ve had a lot of time to stare around at the majesty that surrounds us here. My head is tilted way back half the day, staring far into the distance where spindrift curls off a jagged ridgeline or an ice collapse careens down a steep face, collecting unfathomable amounts of debris as it falls. The sunsets aren’t so bad either.
I see what a crippled affection this is. I want to believe the mountains are responding to how alive I feel up here. Isn’t there some bit of emotion or reciprocity, something human to show back? Alas, there isn’t. This range is like a mythological, stern mother who doesn’t want to see or show any sentimentality. I won’t get any love or embrace from these mountains. Sometimes I feel as though I am, but I know it’s a construct of my mind.
What I do get is to climb and play in this incredibly powerful environment. I get a brief hall pass to experience the feeling that I’m a part of the mountains and that I actually belong here. It’s temporary. The longer I’ve spent in the high mountains, the more I realize we really don’t belong here. We belong back home, down low, with friends, family, adversaries. But, the experience up high is irreplaceable. The intensity, struggle, beauty, challenge—there’s nothing else like it. Back down where we belong, a little sliver of that experience stays with me and reminds me of that other magical place I get to visit on occasion. I like that.
So, our plans once again have changed. It’s May 17, and we are now heading out of base camp tomorrow intending to try for the summit on May 21. The forecasts have been showing some days that likely allow a summit but no clear weather window. The 21st looks like it will give us a decent chance for acceptable weather. Plus, we will join about five others in order to spread out some of the trail breaking work if the forecasts turn out to be right, and we encounter some deeper snow during the next few days.
We’re looking forward to a shot and to a successful experience in that unique, magical world up high.
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