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On the north east pillar of Tengkangpoche (6487 m, Nepal), the first attempt to climb in early October by Tom Livingstone and Matt Glenn ended in a bad fall in an artificial climbing passage. Tom injured his hand, still far from the summit, and the team decided to descend. Ten days later, but the snow had turned the mountain white. Is this monster project still be possible ?

Of all the reasons to bail from climbing a mountain, I didn’t think this one would be so bad. 

Storms have rolled in, heavy spindrift pushing my head down into my shoulders. Drilling a v-thread into ice is a lot harder when you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Doubt has clouded my head and heart. Could this really be possible? I’ve thought, looking at the ground. My partner and I have reached « unclimbable » features, devoid of holds to climb or cracks for protection, and felt the sting of defeat.

But to cut my little finger? Of all the reasons to bail, this seemed like the most pathetic and ego-punishing.

***

The peaks had been transformed, now completely plastered with snow

The doctor in Thame valley winced when he saw my finger.. « Hmm… that needs cleaning, » he said, squirting more iodine into the wound. He slowly dressed it then gave me antibiotics.

Five days later, the clouds cleared. Matt and I could finally see the mountain-tops. The peaks had been transformed, now completely plastered

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