Monday, 20 July 2009

Nanga Parbat- Gladness and sadness!

Rick and the Italian mountianeer making their way up to the summit. Guiseppie (spelling) turned back with only about half an hour of ascent to do...... so he was gutted when he found out that Rick and I had kept going and reached our goal.

Sandy on the summit of Nanga Parbat :10th July 2009. The wind was very strong so standing on the summit was not an option.
As I took my last photos I glanced at my wrist watch and it read 1508 hours local time. I pulled on my down glove and Rick and I headed back down to wards camp 4. We were only on the summit for few minutes.With in half an hour we met Miss Go's Korean group and tagged on to that was Wolfgang one of the Austrians. It was obvious to us that they were rather late and were at least an other hour and a half from the summit. We explained this to them and that when we were on the summit it was incredibly windy and cold. It was so obvious that they had no intention of turning back! We advised them as strongly as we could, but our voices fell on ears which chose not to hear us!
That night at Camp 4 after we sent some Local Pakistani HAP porters out to assist the late party! They departed base camp around 10.00 pm and did not come back until about 3.00 am. But they said that they were really cold and could not really help the Korean party very much. ( I had enlisted two HP to assist Ed with his climb of Nanga Parbat, but as Ed had departed Rick and I had no real need for porters as we were very used to climbing Alpine Style. Still we apprecaited their company and help. We all shared teh work of cutting tent platforms and and brewing up. I must admit Rick did much more cooking that I did! Ed had gone home, but we were happy to continued the HAP's employment as they both expressed an interest in summiting and we were happy for them to share our equipment, food, tents and gas and try the summit. At 1.00 am in the morning while we brewd up they also woke up and started melting snow for tea... As Rick and I were getting ready to leave the camp 4 our two HAP's all of a sudden put their head back inside their sleeping bags and went to sleep. They lay as silent as the night as Rick and I pulled on our down clothing and 8000 meter climbing boots. They had obviously decided not to try the summit. Rick and I went on by ourselves. The following day (11th July) Miss Go and her team did arrive back at Camp 4 in the early hours of the morning and were brewing up in their respective tents. Rick and I descended all the way to Base camp clearing our tents and tidying up our camp sites as we went. We shared the loads with our two porters. All our rucksacks were way to heavy but the mountain was left clean and tidy ! On arrival at Base camp I was informed that Wolfgang had gone missing and was suspected of being blown off the summit. This was sad news indeed.
Later that same evening we learned from one of the Miss Go's base camp team that she had fallen off the mountain during her descent and was badly hurt. Next day it was confirmed that she had passed away.
It's all very sad, my heart goes out to all involved. Their lateness on the mountain and their determination to succeed in reaching the summit perhaps clouded their judgment. Rick and I had set ourselves a turn around time of 4.00 pm, no matter how close we were to the summit as we knew that to spend a night in the terrible weather without a tent and sleeping bag would be exhausting and then to expect our human bodies to climb down all the way after such a night would be unimaginable. We had made good decisions but were also very fortunate - Miss Go and Wolfgang were caught out and paid a very high price
Edward Whymper once wrote:
"Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are not without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end."

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