Many of you are wondering about my present state of health. This dispatch will address that as well as share a brief description of our summit of G1, descent, with some photos, and the obligatory ridiculousness which still seems resident even when I feel like crap… Total crap!
The real start of the summit push began on the afternoon of July 27th. Joined now by Marty Schmidt, Libor Uher, and Radek Jaros, Alexey and I climbed from Camp 2 to Camp 3 and stopped there for a few hours, resting and drinking. At 7:30pm that evening the five of us strapped on our crampons and headed up into the night, knowing that a pending storm was forecast for the following afternoon. We carried no rope, climbing together but independently. We climbed through the night, taking turns breaking trail and sharing the workload. As daylight broke, we were struggling 200 meters below the summit in extremely deep, unconsolidated snow – but, we continued on regardless, fighting hard to gain ever meter. Finally the snow became bottomless, so we traversed/swam to a rock ridge on the far extreme right of the couloir, and climbed steep mixed rock, ice and snow to the false summit. There the summit ridge towered above us, looking rather ominous in the twilight and clouds. At 6:10am on July 28th, after 10 1/2 hours of climbing, Alexey and I, along with Radek Jaros, Libor Uher, and Marty Schmidt, finally reached the summit of G1. People at base camp reported a huge lenticular cloud on the summit at this time. It was definitely cold and windy, but I think it might have looked worse than it was….. Kinda.
After taking the obligatory John Wayne and Pringles pictures, the five of us descended to Camp 3 with no issues. We rested there for a few hours, then continued down to Camp 2. At Camp 2 we were congratulated by the Koreans and Slovenians, then set up our tent and spent a very blustery night as the storm arrived full force. Alexey and I were both tired but happy and content, feeling pretty good. We even discussed descending further that day to Camp 1, but eventually decided against it and stayed at Camp 2 that night, the 28th.
At 4:40am the next morning, Alexey and I awoke to the forecasted storm still raging against the tent. Visibility was very low, but we knew the winds would ease as we descended the icefall, so we brewed up, packed our camp and headed into the whiteout. We both felt good, but still tired, and stopped to take a few photos at our depot under the serac. After reaching Camp 1 we loaded up the entire camp into our packs, leaving nothing behind - just in case the monsoon storms would arrive before we could attempt something else. We discussed the option of trying GIII if the weather would hold up, and agreed we could easily carry gear and supplies back up from base camp if needed.
Halfway down to base camp, we encountered the ever-widening crevasse field which required very careful navigation - believe me, it's getting really scary now. After making it through the delicate section, we could see in the distance the waving arms of our base camp crew. An hour later we arrived at the moraine, and together we walked down through the camps as one porter banged and empty kerosene can while singing a victory song on our behalf. Everyone, especially Alexey and I, were all smiles as climbers and cook staff all came out to greet us and congratulate us as we walked through camps. It was really cool.
We finally sat down in the dining tent, ate some food, and shared a few toasts with the many visitors who came to discuss our climb and congratulate us.
I took a shower - the Pakistani glacier kind, which is essentially squatting on the moraine with a bucket of warm water and an old tin can.
I returned to my tent to put on clean clothes and warm up a bit - and that's when it hit me like a bomb. Within 3 hours my body temperature was over 103F. I even double-checked it with a mercury thermometer because I couldn't believe it was that high. Throughout the evening my chest tightened severely, and I just couldn't breath, coughing up the most disgusting greenish flemmy stuff. My respiratory rate and heart rate skyrocketed, my O2 sats dropped.
Jump to today: I am completely wiped-out, much more exhausted from fighting a high fever for 3 days immediately after summiting GI. This is certainly the most wicked chest infection I've ever had. A helicopter was dispatched the very first day of my illness due to my horrible vitals and condition. With help from the people at Travel Guard and Askari Aviation, hopefully I'll get flown down to a lower altitude as soon as there is a break in the clouds. Today's weather looks grim, so I'll just have to hack and wheeze away in my sleeping bag, downing antibiotics, etc. and dreaming of...well- every place but here. As of now my chest is still tight and my breathing very shallow...hack. wheeze.
In an attempt to make you breathe equally as shallow, here's some photos from our grand exploration up G1. I promise to post more excellent images in the weeks to come, and keep you updated health and evac home. In case you haven't checked the news lately, Pakistan is in chaos...hack. wheeze.