It was still raining
and was late in the day when we arrived at Tembagapura the mining town site
and were offloaded at an Army safe house across from the Military Police
Station. We were shuffled into a room where we met our Dani porters, climbing
guide, base camp cook, and various other Army personnel including the Mine
liaison officer. We would be moving out soon and needed to quickly sort out
our gear, we would be leaving here our non-climbing items locked up in one of
my gear bags. We soon learned there would be a change of plans; originally we
were to stay here for a few hours waiting for further darkness, now we were
rushing to get our gear repacked so we could leave. The other climbers had
arrived in Jakarta a few days prior to me and had most of their gear brought
over with our agent to Timika. I needed some time to sort out my gear and put
into manageable loads for the porters who would be taking the gear up the Mine
cable car to the top of the mine area known as Grasberg, a Dutch word meaning
lawn on mountain, this is where the open pit mining is done. They would then
be picked up by Army personnel and taken to the Army Outpost where we would
meet up again.
As we were loading into
the truck concerned being expressed by the driver the agent and Army officer,
others started to gather around. The new driver didnít know we had women in
our group until he stepped into the truck and looked back. We now found out
that women are not allowed to be above the Mine town site and he was very
concerned about this. Our agent and the Army officer quickly sorted this out,
we got into a different vehicle, one that is licensed to take us through the
underground tunnel, and we departed.
Immediately we started
to ascend quickly, at mile 74 at about 8500 ft, we entered the tunnel; we were
amazed at the engineering marvel that was before our eyes. We had to put on
the mine security guard vests and hard helmets to blend in with mine
procedures. We would be underground for 45 minutes driving through carved out
rock walls and roads, water now running everywhere. Intersecting roads
criss-crossed as we spiralled our way underground up through the mountain. Off
to the side we would see huge steel doors, which were a gateway leading
further into the underground mine. It made you wonder how many miles of road
and how much manpower and equipment were under this mountain. We would see
huge low squat mining vehicles parked off to the side as well as the odd
person walking with his headlamp on. We met up with a vehicle driving towards
us the wrong direction on this one-way road. We waited as he backed up to an
area where we could pass, it turned out to be a Mine security vehicle.
We were driving up
through 10840 ft with my watch showing a time of 5.34pm just as we drove out
of the tunnel, the truck abruptly stopped. We had to quickly jump out with our
gear and hustle into another waiting vehicle, an Army truck, which would take
us on up to what turned out to be the Army Outpost. Cloak and dagger stuff
right out of a movie, only we were the actors.
30 minutes later at
about 6.00Pm we arrived to the Army Outpost, at 11850 ft. Itís an 8 by 20
container which holds about five/ six soldiers, here they patrolled the upper
mine area. There were some mattresses spread out on the floor, a heat lamp,
graffiti all over the walls, nicely done graffiti I might add, and a coffee
pot. SS1 American made assault rifles were scattered about, leaning on the
wall, propped up on a sleeping bag, and hanging on a nail. When ever a soldier
went outside he always took his rifle. We jostled around this tiny room trying
to find room to sit and get comfortable. We would now be waiting here until 2
or 3 am, before we would depart for the trailhead and base camp.
I was pleased that we
were very close to getting on the trail to base camp, thatís when I felt we
would truly be on our way. Over the years many people have come over to Irian
Jaya with full expectations of getting to Carstensz to climb, only to be
foiled at the airport upon arrival and sent back home. Countless climbers have
been trying for years to get the opportunity to climb this mountain, waiting
and waiting for a permit. Although I didnít know for sure how close to the
trailhead we were, I knew we were close.
We spread out the
mattresses and got comfortable as we had about six hours to wait before we
moved out. I took photos of the inside graffiti and decided to sign the wall
with my trade-mark-saying, Ē See you at the TopĒ. Our agent told me as I
filmed him how everything was going fine, no problems at all. We were reminded
again how we could take the soldiers pictures but only for our personal use. I
thought to myself how having them on film might come in handy later on, just
We had gone from Timika
up to the top of the mine in 4 Ĺ hours and would now wait until it is safe to
make our way to the trailhead unseen. I had my photo taken with me holding up
the machine guns in various positions and then sat down. I was a little tired
from jet lag but still pretty pumped up all the same. How could you not be
with what we had just experienced. It all seemed to be going according to
plan, maybe too well, too easy, I leaned back against the wall and thought to
myself. I closed my eyes and rested.
An Army escort was
required every time we went outside to relieve ourselves, and we had to wear
an Army coat and hat. It was now cool and dark with a steady drizzle of rain,
with fog moving by. It smelt so refreshing as I stood outside wondering about
the days to come.
I opened my eyes as our
agent stepped back into the Outpost with the 2nd LT Commander; I
watched their lowered heads and heard them speaking in with hushed tones. What
was up? I grabbed my video camera. I couldnít believe what I was hearing,
reminded me of being up at the South Summit of Everest in 1998 when I was told
we had run out of rope. Our agent said that the Mine Intelligence knew we were
on the mine site, somehow word had gotten out, and they had informed the Army.
According to the 2nd LT we had to leave for Timika NOW, his Commander said to
him to get us out, we would have to fly out to Jakarta tomorrow morning, other
wise we would be arrested for entering the mine illegally. They said to us
that this was the end of the expedition, it was now over. If we didnít leave
now we would all be arrested and all the people involved in getting us hear
feared losing their jobs or worse. I didnít here what the worse might be.
I asked who was going
to arrest us? What would actually happen? They said the mine security would
arrest us. I said lets get off the mine then, letís move up to the trailhead.
We were up at the top, although I didnít know if it was a 20- minute walk to
get to the trailhead or an hour. The other problem was we didnít know what
direction to go; we needed our agentís help. He said that since we had been
exposed, and we left for the trailhead, that it would be impossible to come
back through the mine without being arrested. My thought was to get out of the
mine site, go to base camp and worry about how we get out later. I wasnít
really worried about that aspect, we had a sat phone and a few of us had
contacts we could call from the mountain. No way was I going back to Jakarta,
I had too much time and effort invested.
I started running
options through my head, a little dazed by the quick turn of events. Should we
leave for base camp now and make a go of it, can we get someone on the phone
to talk to about paying off whom ever else, were we being scammed? Who really
new what was going on? I wasnít confident that we were getting the straight
goods, obviously something wasnít right and I was trying to get a read on the
situation. Had this been the plan all along, take our money and run? No it
couldnít be, I had done a lot of research on our Agent and had repeatedly been
told how trustworthy he was. My mind was a flurry of thoughts, planning,
improvising, what ifs.
They kept saying how it
is too risky for us to try and go to base camp, how it will cause severe
problems for everyone that was involved up to this point.
Suggestions were being
bandied around by our agent who I felt might be giving us other possible
suggestions just get us off the mine site now. I was really trying to get a
good read on this but wasnít convinced we were being given all the
information. Something was missing. We were all talking out loud asking
questions. As we further pushed for answers we were told that the Mine
intelligence had told the Military intelligence that there were people on the
mine site unauthorized, and that they needed to get off immediately or there
would be grave consequences. I kept thinking about how close we were to the
outer mine boundary and trailhead, and how once there we would be ok.
Then the kicker was
then thrown into the mix, the 2nd LT said all our gear bags had already left
in a truck and had been taken down to Timika. That sealed our fate right
We are descending down
I mentioned to the
group that we needed to start thinking about a plan, looking at all
possibilities, from people we knew to call, to hiring a helicopter to Zebra
wall, to trekking in from another location. Letís get it down on paper and
look at options.
Well, setbacks are
nothing new to me; itís just a part of life. I started thinking overtime on
how to overcome this situation we were in. We discussed options as we
descended the down through the mine. Flying into the villages like Illaga or
to start our trek into Carstensz was soon out of the equation, they were
unsafe and dangerous, foreigner or not. Hostage taking, shootings and lack of
military would make it a suicide mission I was told.
On our way down I
mentioned how it would be tough getting back through security as the word
would certainly have gotten out that we were on the Mine and to be on the
lookout. But we didnít have any problem at all getting through, just a quick
stop and a wave. I started wondering what was going on with that, had we
really been duped?
We stopped at the
Tembagapura Army Outpost where we off loaded and waited 40 minutes until
another vehicle would arrive to take us back to Timika. We sat inside and
discussed the situation as I started writing down possible scenarios. Our
Agent had been outside talking with the 2nd LT when he came in to talk to us.
He stated that the Army 2nd LT and his people were very scared for their jobs
and livelihood if we were caught. Even though all the money has been paid to
them they cannot carry this plan out, not as it stands. He went on to say that
in the morning he would meet with the Military Liaison officer to see if there
is any way we can try and do this again, even if we have to pay more money.
The next option would be to try and get the Army helicopter to fly us to Zebra
Wall, although this has only been done once before, I had my doubts on that
After our agent
returned for a second time we learned that the mine intelligence had no proof
that we are on its property only that there was the possibility that
unauthorized foreign people are there. I could see the stress that our agent
was under in his furled brow, he truly was deeply affected by what was
Then I heard more
discouraging news. The women climber in our group had just finished telling us
that when she had gone outside the Army Outpost at the top of the mine she ran
into a bad situation. She needed to go to outside to the bathroom and followed
the Outpost Army officer outside, just like all of had to if we wanted to go
outside the container. Now that she told me the story I remember thinking to
myself as she walked back in through the doorway how she had been gone a very
long time. Earlier in the evening I thought I heard the Army officer tell her
that they had a toilet somewhere outside when she mentioned about a bathroom.
I didnít really pay any attention to their conversation. She now was telling
us that the officer lead her to an area a little further away from the Outpost
to go to the bathroom. She had finished but when she started walking back he
said there was a vehicle coming and pushed her away in another direction. He
then proceeded to grab a hold of her and held her against him as he tried to
kiss her. She resisted and pushed him away somehow avoiding a serious
situation. I was sort of dozing when she came back in and she didnít mention a
word to anyone of us at the time. She now told us she didnít want to trigger a
situation up there.
Sunday Oct 19th
We are back in Timika
and settled into a Hotel, the Komoro Resort. I am tired and going to sleep as
soon as I shower.
I have been up for
hours thinking about what had happened last night. I have now just come back
from talking to the Military Liaison Officer and the 2nd LT. It now
seems that no one knew we were up on the mine site; no one had seen us, it was
said that information had only been passed on that maybe some
unauthorised people were on the site. This information burned me right
through, as we were only minutes away from the trailhead hours earlier. I was
thinking that someone within the chain of command, got cold feet, scared of
what might happen and pulled the pin. We would now have to coordinate getting
back up through the Mine. Could we pull this off?
Our agent is thoroughly
stressed; you can see it in his face. He told us how over the last few years
the only way people are getting through to climb Carstensz is by doing exactly
what we did yesterday. But it was a limited few people. He has been doing all
the organizing for various clients and as recently as December 2002 was the
last time the mountain had been climbed through his efforts. The difference
this time though is that there has been more mine security stepped up because
of the shootings that happened in August, and other political uprisings.
We all just got out of
a meeting with the Liaison Officer and 2nd LT, and now have a new
plan. What was missed in the prior plan we were told was paying off the mine
security intelligence at the Airport. It was said that they reported to the
Army, Military, and Police intelligence that there was foreigners on the mine
site. I guess that it never went any further than that. In the past our agent
had never had to pay them off, they were never part of the plan. The Army
Liaison Officer was able to make a deal with them where if we paid them money
they would turn a blind eye. They wanted a further $2000.00 US, of which we
would split among us. I agreed to this with one non-negotiable condition, they
would only get paid when we came back down to Timika from the climb, they
agreed. I didnít want to be in a situation where they again came up with
another excuse and sent us down again. The other question I asked was if they
were sure they have everyone paid off that needs to be, the answer was yes.
The total dollars that would now be paid to the people would amount to
$12,000.00 US. You can see why they would jump at this risky venture; the
average monthly salary of a Private Army Officer we were told is $100.00 a
It was now set; we
would leave Tuesday evening at 5.00Pm and retrace our steps back up.
We spent the next three
days bound to our hotel complex, as it was advised we not be seen by anyone.
We ate in the restaurant, stared at the ceiling, read and watched TV in our
rooms. I still had a gear bag up at the Tembagapura Army Base, which contained
many creature comforts, such as a book or even my dreaded razor. I did have
my cameras and tape recorder where I recorded my thoughts. The hotel was set
in a quiet part of Timika, actually out of the way in a nice setting. The
uncertainty was constantly in my thoughts, and time waiting around dragged on
as we waited for our departure date. I couldnít help thinking about the time
being wasted waiting around, just sitting and being unproductive. I guess I
should learn how to relax.
Monday Oct 20
Our gear was picked up
today and taken up to the trailhead, to a hiding spot not far from the Zebra
Wall, which is a landmark 20-30 minutes up the trail from the mine.
We are now in the
vehicle working our way back up to the mine. The plan is for us follow the
same procedure of travel that we did on Saturday, working our way through the
six security check points, changing vehicles at the Army base, etc etc.
Our driver was having
problems shifting gears; it seems to me he just learned how to drive a std
transmission vehicle. He had just stalled our vehicle in the middle of the
mining road, and he canít get it started. Not a great position to be in.
Unbelievable. After some time of trying to start the truck with no success
they radioed the 2nd LT who is up at mile 68 and now heís on the
way down to get us. The group driving and escorting us are different people
than who we had rode with the other day. One of my concerns as we were stalled
was that some other truck would come by and offer to take us up to the mine
and find out who was in the vehicle. I asked whether we should jump out and
hide in the ditch, they felt it was better to be inside. They finally got this
rig running and we are on our way again, jerking around this steep bumpy road.
We descended down into
Tembagapura, the mining town that was lit up like the Las Vegas strip. It was
amazing to see the infrastructure that was before my eyes, up here, in the
middle of nowhere. We arrived at the Army safe house where we waited for the
change of vehicles.
We were just informed
that we would not be moving up to the Outpost tonight as the vehicle that is
licensed to go through the underground is not ready and that we have to wait
until tomorrow evening. Well all hell broke loose at this point; I wanted to
know why we just found this out, what possibly could have changed in such a
short period of time. We were given no answer, in fact all the people who
could tell us have disappeared, vaporized into thin air. I told our agent to
get the Liaison Officer on the phone now, as he was the one who assured us in
Timika that everything was now handled. Once I was able to talk to him he
proceeded to promise me that by 6 Pm tomorrow we would be on our way, 6 Pm
sharp. I was really having a hard time believing that we would be on our way
tomorrow, we were really in a poor bargaining position. Setback after setback,
their excuses were wearing very thin.
I looked around this
safe house, we were in utter disgust, no food, no heat, not drinkable water,
no stove to boil water. We all wondered how on earth we were to sleep without
any bedding, just a few mattresses, and without all our gear which had just
been had been taken to the trailhead. I was seething at this point. Eventually
someone brought over mattresses from another house, and broke into one of the
rooms that were locked, this room had a bunk bed with one blanket.
Wednesday Oct 22
I heard a rustling
noise coming from the side door and went over to it expecting to see one of
our Army officers trying to get in. What I found just as I got there to open
the door were two unfamiliar people dressed in plain clothes walking into the
room. They we certainly startled. I immediately woke our agent up and he
spoke to these individuals. It seems they are a friend of one of the officers
and were coming in to use the computer. Our agent called the officer who made
sure his friends understood the situation.
We were room bound all
day as we cannot be seen or heard by anyone outside the circle. At various
times throughout the day I would peak through the curtains poking my camera
lens out to take photos or to video the landscape.
Our Guide, porter and
cook have just left to take the cable car up to the top of the mine where we
will meet them at the Army Outpost later this evening. I really have my doubts
that we will be leaving on time tonight, if at all, something just seems not
Our agent just came in
and said that we wonít be leaving tonight. I knew it. We were now told that
the turbo charger on the vehicle we are to use is broken and that they canít
find any other truck to use or to pay anyone else off to get us through the
tunnels. They said it is going to take two days to get another turbocharger
in, I said it is unacceptable. Get us another vehicle tomorrow or get this
one fixed, take the part off another vehicle if you have to but get this one
fixed. I am so pissed off it is probably best that the little pricks are not
in front of me. I spoke to the Liaison officer on the phone and explained in
no uncertain terms what he needed to do to make this happen for tomorrow
Thursday Oct 23
Our agent passed me the
phone; it was a call for me. On the other end was the Liaison officer who was
assuring me that they were taking the turbo charger off another vehicle and
that it would be fixed later in the afternoon. I told him I wanted to be
updated every two hours on its progress. Do not tell me again at the last
minute it canít be fixed.
We just received
confirmation that the vehicle is fixed and that we will be going up tonight at
We are loaded into the
trucks and on our way up to the top of the mine.
11,850 ft - We arrived
up at the Army Outpost where we quickly got organized and set off to the
We have just arrived up
at the start of the trailhead where our gear had been stashed. We rearranged
our backpacks and set off on our 4 hour hike to base camp. Itís a beautiful
night, stars are shining, and in the background we hear the sound of heavy
equipment working at the mine site.
Five armed Indonesian
Army soldiers, plus our porter, guide, cook and agent accompany us giving a
total of 13 people.
We ascend over rock,
through tuffs of grass and walk past the famous Zebra Wall, a flat leaning
wall that has these black and white streaks thus making it look like Zebra
We continue our way
past a large lake working our way up valley where we will ascend up a steep
climb to a high narrow pass called Wind Gate. This pass gives us access to
Meren Valley where in 30 minutes time weíll reach base camp. In the distance
from the top of the pass you could look back and see the lights of the large
heavy equipment that was moving around the mine.
We arrived at Carstensz
base camp at 4100 meters, or about 13500 ft. and are waiting for the others.
My tent hasnít arrived as of yet, so the soldiers have invited me to sleep in
their tent. At times throughout the night you would hear a soldier patrolling
around our camp making sure it was secure. They are concerned that the Rebel
forces might try and take them by surprise. Iím thinking to myself, why on
earth would anyone really want to be hanging out here if they are not
climbing? Anyway I really didnít give it much thought.
I woke up early in the
morning and walked up valley climbing up to a high point where I shot some
video and took photos. I sat looking up at the incredible rock formations that
had been carved out from the receding glaciers, the high towering faces that
seemed to surround me. I was really amazed with the topography, I felt I was
in a very special place. Up valley on my left was the Meren Glacier, further
on up behind it was Ngga Pulu 4862 meters, the second highest mountain in this
Base camp sits between
a larger glacial lake to the north of us and a small glacial pond that is used
as our drinking source. I guess I shouldnít have been peeing in that direction
last night, but who would have known at the time eh? For the few people who
had had the privilege of being here I was amazed at the garbage pile I now
stood looking at. Plastic bottles, batteries, plastic bags and cans formed
this mound, with old pieces of rope, string, wrappers etc that were not only
in this pile but also scattered around this site. I talked to our agent about
the importance of keeping this base camp area clean and the usage of a garbage
bag, and how this is reflective on him and his people. I mentioned that he
should be charging his clients a garbage cleanup fee (maybe $100.00 each) and
make sure everything is packed out to the Mine site garbage dump. It doesnít
matter where I go around the world it a constant grind to educate people on
being environmentally conscious and respectful of their land.
My South African tent
mate and I set up my tent and started organizing our gear. It started raining
shortly after so we stretched out and rested.
We had another change
of plans; our agent wants us to go for the summit tonight at around midnight.
We organize our gear and pack it.
Saturday October 25th
We have just left base
camp for the 1-Ĺ hour climb up a pass, which leads us over to Yellow Valley
where weíll start, our ascent up the vertical walls of Carstensz Pyramid. We
will be climbing the NW Face up the normal route pioneered by Heinrich Harrer
in 1962. Itís a warm clear night, the stars are out in force.
30 minutes after
leaving camp as we are ascending up to the pass our Agent calls us from below
to say he canít go on. I tell to him to slow his pace down and not try to keep
up to us. After five more minutes he again calls up saying to our guide in
Indonesian that he has to quit, heís not feeling well. We ask him to pass up
the rope he is carrying and we continue on.
We start descending
down into Yellow Valley and make our way towards the NW face of Carstensz. Our
guide is leading through the valley floor where we soon start to ascend
towards the base of the mountain. Itís pitch dark and we canít make out the
mountain at all. I have seen photos of the route on the mountain but we are
really just following behind our guide anticipating seeing the route shortly.
Our guide canít seem to
find the hanging fixed ropes for us to start our climb; he is really having
trouble getting his bearings on exactly where we are. After some time he
apologises for not being able to lead us to the start of our climbing face,
and says that we now should go back to base camp and try again tomorrow. I
tell him absolutely not, no way. We are not going to go back to base camp
after all weíve been through. Why do people want to give up so quickly? I
start asking him questions on our position, trying to trigger something in his
mind on where we are. I feel that what we need to due is methodically start
traversing over to find the hanging ropes. I really canít believe that he
wants to give in so quickly; I just shook my head. We made a plan to start a
methodical search traversing to the left and right looking for any indication
of a hanging ropes and climbing route. After some time one member of our group
feels he has spotted a trail working up to the face, he calls us over. I climb
up on what looks like a worn trail leading up to a crack system but canít see
any fixed rope hanging down which would indicate our route. Two of the members
start up the crack to take a look. Our guide at this point is off to the left
lower down the mountain trying to find the route. I see his headlamp searching
in vain for the correct way, the light shining back and forth. I keep thinking
he still wants to leave for basecamp and yell down to him, encouraging him on.
After quite some time of searching with no results, I suggest to everyone that
we just hang tight where we are for a few hours until the sun starts to light
the sky, then weíll be able to see where we are in relation to the route.
Our guide reappears
unsure where he got off track. Dawn is coming, far off in the distance I can
start making out Meren Glacier a valley over, and off to my right I can just
make out Carstensz Glacier. At least I know we are in the right country.
With the sky turning a
lighter shade, one of the South African climbers spots the fixed rope off to
our right, an incredible 60 feet away. It was so unbelievably close, not far
from the crack system. It was so close but so far away, how did we miss this?
I donít know.
We hastily got geared
up and on our way. I gave our guide encouragement to keep moving, telling him
we have lots of time to climb this mountain. He seems to start coming around a
bit. Iím the first one on the rope climbing up onto the rock face. Itís an
easy Jumar up onto the route that leads us up to a series of gullies and crack
systems. The rock is great, lots of traction and firmness, good holds.
I clipped off the rope
and worked my way up to a scree section leading to another crack. I looked
behind me and caught this magnificent view of Meren and Carstensz Glacier,
wow. The views were spectacular, the rock and formations really unlike
anything Iíd experienced before. The Yellow valley unfolded below us where we
could look west looking straight towards Freeport Mine. Off in the distance
were numerous peaks rising up, pure magic. The weather was great, clear blue
sky with no cloud build up anywhere in sight.
I was feeling
excellent, very strong considering what weíd been through, lack of sleep etc.
Itís amazing what you can do on adrenaline. The climbing was going quickly, in
fact easier than I had anticipated, as the route was straightforward. I was
having a great time, and it was a great feeling to be finally be on this
mountain climbing. Although the Freeport Mine was only miles away, it seemed
we really were alone, a great feeling.
We continued working
our way up the crack systems, arriving at an area ĺ of the way up the face.
This is where it looks like something has taken a huge bite out of the face. I
climbed up a short section of scree and waited for the others to arrive, the
guide followed me up and pointed out the route above. I was very impressed
with the rock, it was excellent to climb on, firm and solid, unlike the
limestone I was used to climbing back home. The weather worn rock was quite
sharp in most places requiring you to wear gloves. You could tell that the
rock would be superb even in the rain.
Once the others caught
up and had a rest we were off. It was at this point that our guide said he
could no longer go on, he sat down. Maybe the quick ascent to this altitude
was a bit more than he could handle as we had come up rather fast. I felt
great and continued on.
We scrambled up scree
and rock to where we climbed up the obvious crack system leading to the West
ridge. We arrived on top of the ridge at about 9.00 AM, climbing our way over
to the first of the technical climbing. The ridge would eventually lead us to
the summit some 700 meters away. Before weíd get there we had numerous
technical sections to climb over with huge exposure making for spectacular
airy climbing at altitude. Definitely not for anyone with vertigo.
In front of me was the
1st notch; we down climbed and rappelled down 25 feet climb to the notch
bottom. I belayed one of the climbers as he rappelled down the face. From
here we had to climb up and over a huge bolder blocking the bottom of the
notch. We climbed up the bolder working our way across it then climbed back
down onto the other side of the notch bottom. Now we would ascend the 40 ft
shear rock face back up and onto the ridge, not for the faint of heart thatís
for sure. As we didnít know what condition the anchor was like up top we had
to be very cautious climbing. In order to re-fix sections we had to scrounge
around the discarded rope from past expeditions, un-knotting the frozen coils.
From here we would use both our Jumars ascending up the rope to the top 40 ft
above. On the north and south end of the notch was a vertical drop. This
section took a bit of time for the four of us to all get up. As everyone was
making their way up, I went on ahead to check out the route. I came back
telling the others that we still had a ways to go over a few other obvious
technical sections. From here we scrambled up and behind a huge section of
rock (from the valley it looks like a large tooth sticking up) making our way
over to another technical gap. We had before us one of the step across gaps,
not super technical but it had I would guess a drop off on each side of about
3000 ft, straight down. It certainly got your concentration level up, no room
for error here. After working our way up the very exposed ridge we crossed a
few more tricky sections and came to what was another adrenaline pumping,
shear drop notch.
It was shortly before
noon. I really couldnít make out the summit from this vantage point and I
wondered how much further it was, I looked at my watch checking the time. The
mist and clouds had been rolling in for the last couple of hours. Occasionally
weíd see patches of blue sky then theyíd disappear. We were engulfed in this
fine mist where it seemed the sun super heated the water droplets making for
the feeling we were in a convection oven.
At this point Iím
thinking to myself that Heinrich Harrer was really a ballsy climber pulling
this off 41 years ago. It is really a spectacular route.
We made our way over
the exposed gap and now had to climb up a steep exposed broken rock face. We
were being careful not to nock off rock on the others below or slip on the
snow as we climbed. We had climbed past a few small areas of snow on the ridge
but now were faced with having to climb up a very steep section on snow, which
as you stepped on it, it turned to a ice under you feet. We would have to
climb through this section very carefully.
We worked up and over
to the South side of the mountain where we scrambled up to the final rock
ledges leading to the summit.
A thin mist
congratulated us as we reached the top, congratulations and hugs went out.
I looked out over the
landscape below, thought of my wife Jamie and son Zach. It was deja-vu all
Iíve said it before and
Iíll say it again, ďthe mountains Iíve climbed just to climb that mountainĒ
Written authorization is required to use any of the
above information. Copyright Byron Smith, 2003
What to see more of Byron?
Byron Smith video,
Media Highlights + 22 mins Live Presentation a must see!! NOTE high speed
internet recommended, and it is 30 minutes long, but great Everest video.
Or better yet, have Byron Speak at your
Sport Everest Boot has made some minor changes by adding
more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High
altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to
-75įF Gore-Texģ Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads.
Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid
shell and built-in Gore-Texģ gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and
removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive
fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to
increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate
Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated
Expedition footwear for
mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold. NOTE US
SIZES LISTED. See more here.