hiking, travel

Is this Type III fun?

Then the 1am wake up call came. It was far too early but thankfully all I had to do was pull on some pants over the pants I had slept in. Tried to go poo, didn’t happen. Noodle soup for breakfast. It was snowing and windy and cold and dark as fuck.

Waking up to total darkness

Layers on, boots on, crampons and harness and helmets with headlamps. Snacks for later, extra clothes and we were off, me and Astani. Simon stayed back, probably snuggled into the 2 extra sleeping bags. That’s what I would have done.

On our way out of High Camp we ran into MP again, she had spent the night in the cold and snow. She woke up when we passed and decided to follow us.

It was so dark. So windy. So cold. Well it wasn’t that cold for the first bit. Then it was horrible. The wind and the snow were pelting down, my boots hurt with every step. I was blindly following the orange rope I was tied to. Again ten steps break, breathe, ten steps break, breathe. There was a point where I strongly considered telling Astani I was ready to quit. The thought of curling up back into a warm sleeping bag was overwhelmingly present, and the current state I was in, it seemed like a better and better idea.

MP kept following us, having the best time, playing in the snow and digging for thing, chewing on my gloves. I wished I had half the energy she did.

I got to a point where I was telling myself next time we stop, you can quit. Then I told myself you have to at least make it to day light. Then my shins hurt too much and I had to ask Astani to help fix my boots, while it was still absolutely freezing. The wind was ripping through all my layers, my head was cold, 3 fingers on my left hand went numb. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to hyperthermia.

I was so incredibly close to just saying fuck it, get me into a warm sleeping bag.

We spent a good 10-15 minutes trying to get my fingers to warm up again, then the rest of my body got cold, like a deep in your bones kind of cold, a sucking every ounce of heat out of your body kind of cold. Spent some time walking in place, put some more layers on. All the while MP was curled up in the snow taking a nap. Still pitch black out.

Absolutely miserable.

In the dark there is no room for positive thoughts. In the dark when it’s freezing and spitting snow, the very idea of being warm is a distant, faded memory.

But my fingers warmed up, my chest felt warm again and we were off. And it was finally getting light. Except we were now in a total white out and could see no more than 5 feet in front of us. So we went from dark and black and not being able to see to slightly brighter and white and not being able to see. And then we sort of just wander about. There was a period of a good2o minutes or so I was sure we were lost and might be forever lost on Mera Peak.

Heading up to the summit as the clouds part.

But then we found a stick, a marker, and things looked up for a moment. Because we still couldn’t see, couldn’t see any other markers, just vague white shadows of things that could be a cliff or just seeing things. It was not looking like a good day for summiting. Astani said we might not make it, then asked if I saw anywhere to go.

We wandered away from the stick, then wandered back, still nothing. Then the clouds broke. As if they saw us struggling. We could see. And there it was. Close the whole time. Mera Peak.

I was actually going to do this, I was actually going to climb this peak. I took some photos and noticed it was 7am, we had been out in the cold and dark for nearly 5 hours, and finally there it was.

One of the hardest earned summit photos I’ve ever taken.

More step, step, rest, but the sun was out, the clouds had momentarily parted. MP beat us up the final bit, a careful ridge line of snow, a final steep snow cliff part and we were there.

Summit photo with MP and Astani

I had actually climbed to the top of a 6000+ meter peak. Despite being overwhelmingly under prepared, in no way experienced or even in the realm of being fit enough, I had done it. Aching shins, heavy oversized boots and at an altitude I had never been at before hadn’t stopped me, although so many times I had thought about it. So many times I had wanted to call it quits or say here is good enough.

Stunning views from the top

Like the American couple said, the views were like nothing I had ever seen before. Snow covered giants for as far as you could see, Everest and Lhoste, the mountains that conquer people. The stillness of it, the solitude of being one of the three warm bodies on top of the peak, fresh cold air. All the pain and suffering to get here, the top was worth it.

If I could have taken this dog home I would have. First dog to top Mera Peak?

It’s got to be a type II or III fun kinda thing, right? Totally and utterly miserable while your doing the thing, but yet you go back for more. Not sure I can picture anyone I know enjoying the suffer like that.

The peak, like nothing I had ever seen before.

Coming back down was a suffer fest as well. The snow had warmed a bit and was sticky and stuck to the crampons. So every few steps I had to bash it off, so annoying. I fell as few times but finally, thank god, made it back to High Camp.

Following MP back down the mountain to High Camp

Had some tea and coconut cookies, and a Mars bar, basically the best thing ever at the moment. Packed up camp and headed off, back all the way to Khare. So tired right now, gonna sleep like the dead. Been up 17 hours so far and had a heap of experiences in those few hours. I want to come back and do more. I love the wilderness of Nepal. And the people.

Heading back down to Khare.

Got to talk to Henry the double amputee, he seemed like an incredibly nice guy. Everyone we passed at High Camp congratulated me, no matter how small my achievement was they still said nice job. Pretty incredible feeling.

Back to Khare, walking on the glacier.

It’s been 10 days since I’ve showered. I may need to triple wash all of my clothes before they smell normal again.

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