Expedition to Nanga Parbat
First news from the “Wild Choice” Expedition to Nanga Parbat
I am with Baby Jesus again, my debate with Allah in the westernmost part of the Himalayas came to an end after two months. Just to remind you of what me and Zdenda were contemplating after coming to Pakistan – nothing less that to find and alpine-climb a new line on the south Rupal Face. If I am to report the result of our expedition, then the evaluation is that we got a smack on the bottom, that’s all. But those forty days that we spent either at the foot of the mountain or directly on the wall were a magnificent experience for me that I can rate among the best things I ever experienced in the mountains. The following several lines are a brief excerpt from the article I am preparing, therefore I take the liberty of rushing through the history until the moment which was the turning point of our expedition.
“An invisible wind turbine blows ice grits with an aggressive power all night long, the particles hit the tent walls with deafening rumble and monotony. It gives me the jitters. I must crawl out of my wet sleeping bag again to free the tent from the snowy embrace. I have neither time no desire to put on the crampons. I open the tent and immediately there is a flood of ferociously dancing crystals rushing inside without being invited, making white everything inside the tent with malicious pleasure. And the omnipresent dense darkness is a bonus, “shit”. I crawl out carefully into the light cone of the forehead lamp and push my leg slowly into the snow until feeling a firm support in the snow. The snow reaches above my knees. One wrong step and the next halt is three thousand metres below. I put on my gloves, turned by the frost into a stiff skeleton, and try to rake away the white mess. It was an uphill struggle. After the wasteful work, I creep back into my cell which has no more than two square metres and puts the finishing touches to the perfect depressive picture. My whole body is shivering. Not only the omnipresent cold is to blame, I will have to face an imminent mental collapse.
“Allah, let me live”, I yell out almost half-mad into the nothingness which surrounds me.
“And what now, you hero, you are in the shit, aren’t you?”, I challenge my boldness. My self-appraisal leads to nowhere, gasping for breath in the thin air dampens my hysterical ravings. Rationality is slowly forced out by emotional runs.
Fragments of thoughts start turning faster and faster, forming a fierce whirl. How to get down.
Does Zdenda, who is waiting for me at the Base Camp, even suspect that I am up the creek ... Kája, Viktorka, my girls, send me a protective capsule from home ..., where did I make a mistake ..., so why ..., what for ..., oh Lord, help me!!!
One thing is clear – the idea of moving across the peak of Nanga and to reach the gentler Diamir Face is buried under a thick layer of fresh snow. I have no choice but to make an almost hopeless attempt at going down across 2300 metres of mix and ice slopes to the screes. Then the final way down – some 1300 metres and I am back at the Base Camp, happy, unhurt, unharmed.
But it has no sense to continue waiting here on this tiny platform dug out in the hillside. It’s only a matter of time when an avalanche wipes away everything. Well, I must go down in the morning. Before reaching the screes, I will be forced to go down backwards like a crayfish because the uneasy terrain does not allow to make a single step facing the valley, and I shall make not a single wrong step if I want to live….”
Nanga Parbat was impartial towards all other expeditions this year. Nobody set foot on its peak. That’s the way things are in high mountains. There are years when will-enthusiasm-skill-good plan do not stand a chance to succedd. But still I feel no bitterness inside. Me and Zdenda spent a wonderful time in the vicinity of a mountain which is absolutely demoniacal. During the whole period we met nobody to share the south wall with. Climbing like nectar and it is unnecessary to add anything else. The agreement is – to come back to the old friend next year. And I already started to implore Nanga to treat me and Zdeněk more kindly in the next season.
The complete article with more photographs, including a short video, will appear on my website marekholecek.cz and other web servers shortly.