The Leap Of Faith
The Leap Of Faith
It was getting windier. As the sun dove behind the clouds, the sky darkened turning into deep purple.... and finally black. We trudged up the mountains in the darkness, our lamp lights bouncing up and down with every step we took. We were all weary, and our suits were drenched with sweat, even though it was well below zero up here.
It was mid January. It was freezing cold, and for no apparent reason my friends and I had decided to scale Mount Everest - unaided. At that time it had seemed like a wonderful idea - it still did except instead of sitting in front of a warm fire, we were hiking up in the dark.
We had just reached the so called base camp. While normally people came with sherpas and guides, the five of us had come alone and we were going to scale it by rock climbing up the southern phase (the only unexplored phase). We were going to free solo the twenty thousand feet of rock and ice.
We had prepared for this day for years. Every single day for five years we had spent a lot of time and effort on building immense amounts of strength and endurance. We knew it was a send (top) or die situation and so we were mentally prepared for the worst. The saddest past was that it was every man for themselves.
We broke camp about a kilometer away from the actual base camp. We were going to rest ourselves here for a few days - acclimatize and then ascend it in one go. It would be about twelve and a half hours of continuous climbing - sunrise to sunset and we would be up!
The next morning was very bright. We were lucky to have this weather, any good weather would make our climb easier. We stretched our limbs and passed the time by playing tag in the cold. This would help our lungs immensely during the climb.
It was half past one when the alarm rang. We got up with a bounce, adrenaline rushing through our veins. Everybody was impatient to start the climb and we quickly packed everything. We would climb shirtless even though it was sub-zero. We walked over to the actual base camp, left our bags there and hiked up to the nine thousand feet. From here we had roughly twenty thousand feet of rock to climb.
We were all psyched up. Each of us took different routes. Ironically, my route was the hardest. There were plenty of dynamic moves on crimps and I was going pretty strong. The sun had come up now and I saw how my friends were faring.
We weren't even one fourth the way there. We were all sweating profusely even though it was minus five degrees Celsius. I spotted a ledge about twenty metres above me. My hands weren't pumped but my throat was parched. I decided to break over there. It took at-least another ten minutes of hard climbing to reach there. When I did, I slumped down and gulped three enormous sips. I had to conserve it for the rest of the climb.
I sat there in silence and let my breathing return to normal. I then returned to my climb. My friends were at-least three hundred feet above me. I had to climb fast but cautiously. We had trained so hard for this day that the climb felt easy.... or so it seemed.
Suddenly a rock broke. My foot slipped and I was left hanging on one hand. I could feel all my muscle sinews straining. I calmly pull myself up, chalk up and continue. Now I kept a sharp lookout for loose stones.
By now I was about half way there. We had roughly climbed for about six hours straight! In the distance about ten feet up, I could make out my friends waiting for me on a ledge. I quickly climb upto them. We reunite, rest and start again. We couldn't afford to waste time. Time was of essence here. The top was the hardest and we needed to be up by nightfall.
Now started the toughest and most wonderful part of the climb. Since we were higher, the rock face was now slippery and had patches of ice. If we weren't careful, we would slip to out inevitable doom. I climbed cautiously. I tested every handhold. But then I came to a halt. From what I could make out, jump-a coordination dynamic move. I would have to leap upwards and then kick sideways on my handhold to reach the jutting out piece of rock which would be just enough to pinch on with two fingers. I take a deep breath... and jump!
I pinch the hold as I can. My whole body swung out and I pinched even harder. I could literally feel the rock tearing my skin. I swung back and in that swing launch myself upwards. This was called a campus coordination dyno. It is where you just launch yourself up with your upper body. It required insane amount of shoulder, finger and core strength.
I reach the mini jug and hang there for a few seconds. I then lock my heel on the same hold and pull myself up. I was about twenty feet from the top when I reach the crimpy part (part with lots of crimp holds). My forearms were pumped and I was losing control. I forced myself on, taking deep breaths. I had to constantly remind myself not to give in to exhaustion. I could feel the perspiration dripping into my eyes, blurring my vision. My hands were so pumped I could barely move them. They felt so heavy. I put one hand up and launch myself to the top... but my foot slips.
My hand barely reaches the top and would have fallen had it not been for my friends. They had reached before me and caught me just in time. The feeling of elation of reaching Everest peak through a completely uncharted way was amazing. It was a feeling of pure ecstasy that all of us felt. And with that feeling in our heart, we begin our journey downwards, the humane way!