How much you enjoy reaching the summit of a mountain is in direct proportion to how much you had to fight to reach it, as well as how much time and dreams you invested. As have my 7 summits quest grown during the years. One of my team mates said he wanted to be on my rope team just to see a 7-summiteer finish. And that´s the first time I fully realised; (depending on weather) – I´m going to finish. It´s going to be over. I didn´t want it to be over. It’s been so great, such an adventure and such a purpose. There was a equal mix of happiness and sadness.
Another of my team mates asked what it felt like the night before the summit push. I said it feels a bit like its my birthday. It´s even more special than a birthday though, because you can only finish your 7 summits once in a lifetime.
The big day came. I was on the first team out and we moved slowly upwards. After reaching the first plateau the wind started to pick up. Snow swirled over the ice. It´s never just a trek when you are in a cold environment. We´re fully busy with pressure breathing, checking that fingers and toes dont get frostbitten and that all skin is covered against the sun. If you lose concentration for just a few minutes you can get a severe frostbite. You have to be disciplined adjusting your temperature, even though you are tired and cold you will have to fix whatever is wrong.
As we reached the summit ridge I was wearing all my clothes. 4 bottom layers and 6 layers on top with 2 down jackets. The wind twirled snow into whirldwind and tornadoes that danced over the slope. 20 knots of ice cold wind hit me sideways and I bent my head the other way. The windchill made it extremely cold. The wind made eerie singing voices between the rocks, tempting us higher. We were completely alone, no other teams caught up to us.
There is a long fun ridge climb over rock and snow to reach the summit. When I saw the top at the end the first tears came. I think I kept crying all the way because my vision was blurred and cheeks were cold with frozen tears. A few meters under the wave shaped summit our guide Vern stopped to unclip from the rope. I broke down over my ice axe crying, then hugging Vern and crying before he ushered me along the last few meters to the end of my 7 summits. The top was small and the view was breathingtakingly beautiful. I just sat there for a while. I didnt want to step off the summit. This was it.
But every summit is only halfway. I had pushed my airway infection way beyond its limit. Had it been any other mountain I might not have climbed, but this was short enough to push the limits. I had to pay the price afterwards. I got a terrifying cough that shook my whole body, tearing through lungs and chest until I was sore. As I lied down it got worse and left me sleepless at high camp. With no recovery and bad breathing the way down was tough. I got more antibiotics from the doctor.
Now we´re in the union glacier camp waiting for the russian freight to fly us out. This is an amazing place and a good rehab to slowly getting back to civilization. We´re still camping in tents but eating really good food in huge dining tents. And we dont have to do our toilet business in plastic bags or bottles here! but there is still no internet so I will post photos in a few days when back in civilization).
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