Trail of Tears
Walking down is hard work, most people think it’s easy. We woke up the next day, again packing all our gear on our backpacks to head down to camp 3. Doesn’t take a long time but very technical terrain, crossing snow and rock paths, ridges, then the fixed lines. It’s very similar risks as driving, the problem is not you but other climbers mistakes that may risk your life. Took us 2.5hrs to reach camp 3, and quickly dig up our stash to cook an amazing lunch without setting up our tents. We also reorganized our gear into sledges that we were also starting to pull down. Then we descended to camp 2, which took another 2hrs. The plan was to reach base camp straight away but, the weather didn’t help. It was snowing heavy, we also had a white out that led us to call it a night at camp 2. It took us another 2.5hrs to reach camp 2. We had the final stash there, some food and gear we left there a few weeks ago. Loaded our sledges again and slept that night.
The next day, we woke up at 8:00am getting ready for our final descent to base camp going to be a long day. With a whiteout and snow in our faces, we left our camp pulling very heavy sledges. Now we have to carry all our gear, leftover fuel and food, and our trash to Basecamp and have to fly out with us keeping the mountain clean.
Pulling down was not a problem for the most part until reaching heartbreak hill. Which is a 300m incline just before Basecamp, where you know you are there and still you need to climb that one hill. Pulling a heavy sledge does not help. It’s very frustrating, I know I am almost there but I must do this last stretch.
Reaching Basecamp brings tears to he teams eyes, not only because of heartbreak hill, but as we realized that our journey of 7 years have finally came to an end. As the weather was bad I expected that we would spend the night at Basecamp, and hope for better weather the day.
But an hour after our arrival we didn’t even unpack. The skies suddenly clears up and we heard the planes engines as he planes landed.
The Rangers told us that we were leaving, I couldn’t believe that it will happen. I learned on the mountain not to get my hopes up, as the chances of disappointment is high. But I was wrong, planes one another started landing and so on me and my team were in one. Doors closed and minutes later we are in the air heading back to Telkitna.
It happened so fast, one minute we were fighting agains a whiteout and pulling sledges, couple of hours later we are on a plane heading home. Landing in Telkitna we realized how lucky we are. We were the last team that leafy that day. After our flight the weather closed again and the other climbers got stuck at Basecamp another few days.
Finally reaching Telkitna, as I stepped out of the plane I could smell the trees and grass. I was so happy I am done with this. Now the first thing on my mind was good food and shower, in that order. Telkitna is a small town, and we landed at 11:00pm so everywhere we went was closed. We headed for Ankerage straight away, stopping by a supermarket to grab food and shampoo. Me and the team were still in our mountain clothes, not showering off 23 days walking in the supermarket. We looked homeless, picking up the things we wanted and headed straight to the hotel for our well deserved shower.
That shower was everything we dreamt about the whole climb, I took and hour just standing there. By the time we were done it was 5:00am and we just crashed.
The next day, was my last day so I spent it walking around the city. Adjusting to seeing people and cars. We had an unforgettable dinner with the whole team and the guides as I said goodbye to all of them. The bond that is between climbers is inseparable, the guides to. We start as strangers, and in 3 weeks we are family. Unfortunately I had to fly back as ramadan is starting and I really miss home.
I am ending this book, that I worked on for seven years. And successfully climbed the heights 7 summits on each continent. The time has come to close this book and start a new one, still don’t know what is is though.