October 22, 2012

A Flash of Memory from Trango II

Jonathon Clearwater following in foul weather on the Shield headwall, Trango II 2005. Photo: Jeremy Frimer

Today I found something in the back of the journal I took with me to the Karakoram of Pakistan in 2005.

On this trip our team attempted the first free ascent of the Italian Route on Uli Biaho Tower, and completed the first ascent of Severance Ridge (VI 5.11 (5.10+X obligatory) A2 AI3 M5). Three of us starved and sent in mixed weather over the course of five days, with food for two and a half and a planned outing of three days.

As Jay continued to wait for us while we starved and fought our way through some difficult and runout pitches high on the mountain, he wrote this in the final unused pages of my journal.

"17 August 2005 6:30 pm Uli Biaho Base camp. Jay.

I grow increasingly worried about the boys. My last transmission was around midday as they approached a blank section of the shield as cracks ran out. The last I saw, of them was as they disappeared around the backside of a roof system some 60m below the shoulder of the shield feature. Around 2pm a fierce storm passed through camp and brought heavy rain and wind for an hour. Since this time I have kept a close watch on the shoulder and adjacent 'road' feature but have seen no sign of movement.

8:00 pm

For the second time on this trip fear grips me as I await a sign from the mountains towering over me that my friends are OK. The dusk grows ever darker as the mountain lies silently in the blackness. What is it that instills such paranoia in me to worry and fear the worst? Perhaps it is because I have nothing else to do here in basecamp? Yet there is more to it, something grips me so hard it makes me shiver."

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