Still Exploring

Unfortunately, Purba, Pasang, and Dandi weren’t able to make it to the summit yesterday.  After the first steep slope, the route follows a ridge to the summit.  The ridge is exposed, with steep rock on one side and snow cornices on the other.  We’re sticking to the snowy side, which is deep and sugary in places, making climbing slower than expected, so it  will take another day to finalize the route. 

Somehow, Purba, Pasang, and Dandi are able to continue their arduous work again today.  I really don’t know how they do it, day after day.  Always with a smile.  From camp we can occasionally see their outlines on the route, and watching their track helps me to study what lies ahead.  Normally, I spend hours studying a climb by reading blogs and watching online videos, it helps me to mentally prepare.  But, in the case of Tharke Khang, the only information that I have comes from aerial photos so it is difficult to visualize exactly what I will be climbing.

On the ridge I can see three large steps, then a difficult-to-navigate bulge, followed by a descending slope and finally a steady rise to the summit.  This is a very general description, and there will be hundreds of tiny details like crevasses and steep snow pitches that I can’t assess from my comfortable position on the glacier, but any information that I have helps me to prepare.

The plan is to leave this evening, sometime between midnight and two AM for the summit.  It is always hectic before a summit bid, it seems like endless hours are spent packing and re-packing, assessing every glove and piece of food to be sure that I’m taking just what I need and nothing more.  Fueling is key to climbing safely on big days in the mountains, and although my body has gotten comfortable exercising for multiple hours without fuel, I still need to be prepared for tomorrow, so I have stuffed both my pant and jacket pockets with mostly candy bars and electrolytes.  The wrapper of each piece is already opened so that I can easily grab it with gloves tomorrow.  It makes a bit of a mess … the bottoms of all of my pockets will be filled with chocolate crumble … but it’s worth it.  Plus, how awesome is it to find chocolate in all of your pockets?!  It's like a childhood dream come true.