Denis Urubko: Gasherbrum - Shining mount (part 1)
http://urubko.blogspot.com/ So, bad weather approached Karakorum mountains. We sat in the Mess-tent in the Base camp, and Simone crossed the computer screen by fingers - the graphics became foggy in his breath.
- In my humble opinion, friends, we have to do the attempt… - (I srambbled by shoulders) - …Three days of rest are enough for us…
- But five-six days is better for me… before so strong push! - declared Cory.
- Yes, of course… and it’s very difficult to catch the weather window, - flashed Simone with good hope – but if Karl Gabl will give us the permission…
But looking the forecast I understood the global crisis in further days. And remembered the local’s words about usual winds increase in February … And clouds concentration. And the cold become angrier… so, I felt bad in my mind…
Our friend-meteorologist from Innsbruck, taking all data in one table, called by phone and guaranteed us about one and half day of the acceptable weather. I’d laugh at it, if he’ll be other person, not Gabl. But… that was Karl, and he’s a magician…
- But you need to rush out extremely fast after that, Simone, - he limited. - Because the Hell will begin in Karakorum. For many days.
We prepared our gear for the climb. If I tried to analyse the situation, the doubts came to my heart. So, I preferred to think in one direction only - forward. Don’t think about the reasons, don’t remember about the insufficient acclimatization only till 6400… Because it was the possibility to reach our goal by one kick only. I was sure about myself, about Simone also… so… Cory was able to support, to help us with loads if he’ll be in not so good condition.
At first, the American hold me, when I fell to the crevasse. It happened on the middle of the glacier on the half-way to Camp 1. Going not far from the friends, I heard as Cory did some steps in opposite direction, gathering free rope part. “Clever guy!” – I’ve thought just. And at the next second I fell by head down, together with icicles to the dark abyss. Made a graciouse turn with the leg help, I heard as Simone screeming something on the surface. Then they took me out right.
Then we swam in the huge snow fields during two days, broke the trail again. Seeing nothing two days due to strong blizzard, we climbed to the end of fixed ropes. Our ice-axes were fine, waiting… and we changed them to the bamboo sticks, which prepared in the Base camp. But the third morning award us with the fine weather.
- Six o’clock, Simone! - I woke up. – It’s time to act. Remove your body out!
I know English not so well, and used words by the intuition often… not so correctly sometimes. But Simone understood, and moved to the tent’s wall, for free place in the center for the preparations.
That day was nice. The sun shined and warmed. The wonderful Karakorum mountains were around. The feeling of freedom was till the horizon like a dream. We were full of power and the optimism. And climbed via the slope direct throw bergshrunds. The snow had been blown by winds to Gasherbrum bottom, so we lost not so much energy.
The winter tactics differ from the traditional one. The short light-day, strong cold, hurricanes… and following untypical relief… forced to look for another decisions. So, the First camp had been set on a edge of the plateau, Camp 2 located just immediately after Banana ridge, and Third summit camp we didn’t risk to establish on the Shoulder, but pressed into the last bergshrund. By the way, we’ve found two pieces of fixed ropes there, which helped us a lot.
And at the night darkness the alarm shaked me. The goal was only one: - to work, and to be pacient, in spite of all. I screemed with the wild energy: “Fire!” It was a music of Scooter, that only could to shake nerves by crazy dance. FIRE!!! And an Apocalypse could begin then! Drank- eat few, we put on the crampons to our boots, and started. Somewhere…
Pushing some hundred steps on the steep hard snow slope above the tent, I went on a less steep part. West wind kicked my face by the icy warn. Stressfull, like a Snow Leopard just before the attack. I felt the alert in his breath.
Once I climbed this route… but it slid throw my mind without emotions. Because I climbed in speed-style that time. And now was surprised, counting meters of rocks, which we crossed. The Simone’s head-lamp shined very far. Cory was like a ghost little closer. I followed them, and at 7400, where fixed ropes ended, began to lead again.
It was misunderstanding between me and Cory sometimes. When it was necessary to do something definite, he began to think by another way. Sometimes it was well… as in case of my fell to the crevasse, when he gathered the free part of rope… sometimes he made a problems. Simply, we’ve never climbed together before!
- Go round… by ledges, - I cried to him from upper part of rock throw the increased wind, showing the direction by the hands. - Put the rope under the rock!
- Into… - by Russian I tald hadly.
- I don’t understand! - very aggressivly resumed Cory. - Your English is good not about route only.
Into the grey rising day we count something… and very engry american rushed onto the traverse just below summit triangle. Simone and me fallowed him connecting by white line of rope.
We managed do it in twilight… Then angry American pushed to the traverse under the top triangle. Me and Simone, belayed by white line of the rope, walked after him, shocked. We were fools due to the cold.
And the high-altitude blanket covered us there – and the thin air was unsufficient for the simple movements…Before the ridge beginning, I began to lead that international march of crazy winter mountaineering again. Because remembered that “window” in rocks, which we had to go through.
We could find some protection from the wind after the turn, and could to rest. The further way, where we could find the deep snow or hard winter ice, for our happiness, occurred to be not so hard. There was the firn slope, with short snow sites, so we haven’t work hard… didn’t lost energy and time… and we could to stop in case of falling.
As usually is in such moments, the doubts filled my heart. I felt different: from full despair till crazy rapture. “We won’t climb… there’ll be ice…”, “That’s 7800 already! We’re about the goal!”, “Waw, there’s 200 vertical meters more…. I’ll die here…”, “Don’t be afraid, soldier!”, “And how will we descend here? It’s so dangerous!“, “FIRE!”
We worked. Simone stopped often, breathing. Cory waited him. And I looked to the further fog, trying to remember the route details. And in one place, where the ridge turn to left after the little rock tower, I cried happily:
- Simone! The summit is there… only hundred meters.
My friend looked at me. This was the calmness of the experienced man. All’s OK.
Of course, we had to work hard twice as long. But it wasn’t important already. I found red rope on the ridge, and threw it down, to Simone and Cory. I climbed further by somebody steps, to the summit. I was delirious – it were my steps, which I did here ten years ago… Like 28-years old me did them for myself. I felt the youth in my veins, like the fire, I was fool of feelings of great energy… And I reassure myself floating in a misty wraith blinding wind.
And reached the highest point, I lifted my hands to the sun, shining in the circle. Waited a second, laughing. And the thought appeared, like a incredible ice crystal, like a blue frozen lightning: “That’s all. I’m here. FIRE!!!”
Then my friends came. I recorded them on camera from aside. From the rocks, where I went to delete my doubts, like in 2001. The time stopped as that scratchy crystal, which froze my soul. And I felt all around me like in lightning - true moment. When you can understand the world’s depth.
Simone fell to knees, face down to the edge between sky and ground, he cried. Cory also cried something crazy to the open sky, shook Italian, hugged him. And I felt like stayed aside and looked at three of us, like I was not the member of the event, but only a spectator from the past…. From my 28-years youth.