Day 23 - Wednesday 30th Sept 2015
Finally, we look up at the beautiful monster that is the upper North Ridge of Nanda Devi East and say our farewells. There is a tightness in my stomach and I will need all the grace in the world to get safely down to Base Camp. I pause for a moment, absorbing the grandness of my arena. What a privilege to be part of such an epic attempt to climb on one of the finest looking mountains in the India Himalaya. We begin our descent as the sun settles behind this Himalayan masterpiece, ahead of us a 12 – 14 hour night-time extravaganza. 1600m of descent, in total darkness, with marginal protection, fatigue and mostly in ‘fall zones’.
I wait in total darkness, alone at over 6000m. Martin is somewhere, way down below me, fighting with yet another ice thread. We are almost out of tat and have used up all our snow stakes and our food rations are almost done as we slowly, methodically, inch our way down this 2000m mountain face. The air is still for a moment, the stars are alive, the silence only broken by the creaking of the towering serac above my head. Shards of ice are sprinkled all around me, like confetti. They tinkle in unison with this advancing menace.
At 04.00 we collapse into the tent at Advanced Base Camp, totally spent, emotionally empty. Not so many words are exchanged, our faces telling the story of a thirteen-hour nightshift, descending one of the most difficult and dangerous faces in the Indian Himalaya. Phew!
Thanks to Mark for the words and to Martin Moran for the images.
After recuperating in Base Camp, the pair then commenced a tortuous 60km extraction over a series of high passes.
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