Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chris's blog from Base Camp after her summit bid (Damphus 6,000 metres)

Getting up at 3.30 am was no fun, especially when the inside of the tent was covered in hoar frost. Group 1 hosted a very chaotic breakfast before we headed out of camp and into the darkness. Denzil, Jim and I brought up the rear of a long line of torch lights heading up onto the Damphus pass.  By day break we were already winding our way breathlessly up the snow and scree slope of the peak. We were going well – 30 steps, then stop for breath, 30 steps, then stop for breath! By late morning we reached the main summit ridge and ate lunch – a boiled egg (frozen), slice of cheese and chocolate bar. (I couldn’t face the greasy Tibetan bread). With axes, crampons and roped up we continued along the ridge, steep snow to one side and some amazing fractured rocks to the other. The summit remained hidden behind so many other false summits and by the time we were nearing 6,000m we were gasping – 5 steps, then stop for breath, 5 steps, then stops for breath – even when it was almost flat! Was it worth it, yes! The views from the summit were spectacular – up onto the 7 and 8,000m peaks of Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas, way down onto our Hidden Valley Base Camp and deep into the valleys of Dolpo and the Kali Gandaki (where we’re heading next). Celebrations over, we enjoyed a rapid descent with ever increasing oxygen. We had been out on the mountain for just over 12 hours, a spectacular day in the Himalayas and another 6,000m summit reached successfully. At the time of writing, around half of the expedition will have successfully summited Damphus and returned safely – a great achievement!

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