|Our Really Big Adventure|
Descent from MBC
| We awoke before first light,
and an excited air of expectation propelled us into the cold morning air.
We were dressed, having gotten into our sleeping bags fully clothed, hats,
head torches and all. We quickly downed a cup of tea, the pace of our actions
keeping the anxiety of the morning at bay. The previous night had snowed
and it hadnt been that cold; the upper slopes, beneath with we would
have to pass, may not have the total security of the morning before.
Bob and Curtis, with two stereotypical mountaineering beards, were staying at the lodge and we joined them for the weak, sweet and very milky tea that is consumed in vast quantities at altitude.
What do you make of the conditions I ask them, realising that these guys probably knew more about the danger we were going to face than everyone else in the lodge combined.
I reckon its good to go, its not perfect but then again who knows how long it will be till it is this good again, said one of the beards of wisdom.
With this lack lustre endorsement we swallowed back the lukewarm remnants of our tea. We were pretty sure it was safe but we had two hours of walking before we would be past all of the avalanche zones, so time was of the essence. Bob and Curtis broke trail, their preparations and gait more efficient than ours.
The sun was still well beneath the mountains, but night was being pushed back by light reflected and refracted off the ice. The cliffs that dropped into the valley were shades of blue, totally still and silent. It seemed as if we were the only things alive in this beautiful dream like world. Later in the day Suicide Gully would become a femme fatale; we would slip past as she slept.
The only sound was of our boots crunching into soft snow through the frozen top layer. Thickening air and gravity allowed us to move much more quickly than we had in our ascent the previous morning; the lack of exhaustion allowed our minds to wander making the route seem more adventurous.
Our energy was boundless and we regularly broke into a run, pausing only to remove layers of clothing. We knew that this was symptomatic of a rapid descent from altitude. The walk was a joy and we took pleasure from the efficiency of our movements and the clarity of our minds.
All too quickly the solitude was over as we reached the first village where we had stashed the bulk of our equipment the previous day. Another cup of tea was downed as we quickly packed our bags, the sense of urgency persisting as we still had one last avalanche zone to cross, but the magic of the earlier descent had vanished in the presence of others that had not shared our experience.
We finished at midday, after 6 hours of walking. We felt as if we could
keep on going, but rationally we knew that our bodies and especially our
knees had taken a pounding and would appreciate the rest. That night we
celebrated, pushing the boat out with 3 small cans of beer each.