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Written & Photos by (作者, 图片来源): Matt Galat


 

When the time did come to move up the mountain, things started getting exciting. The first obstacle you come to as you move out of Base Camp is the Khumbu Glacier and then the Khumbu Icefall. The Icefall is one of the most dangerous elements of the trek up to Everest. It’s the place where the Khumbu Glacier falls half a kilometer to the level of Base Camp from the level of Camp 1. Along the Icefall, the glacier crumbles into what has been called “popcorn”. These are building sized seracs of ice that slowly break and tumble down the face at around 4 feet per day. You can see how this is a dangerous area, as the ground under your feet breaks apart, shifting and falling constantly. In fact, every time I passed through the fall, the route was changed to accommodate a new ever changing landscape.

I enjoyed the Icefall. There were a lot of obstacles, which broke up the monotony of climbing, and offered bits of rest as time was taken to get up and over each of them. Where I had trouble were the longer stretches of white glacier. Trudging through snow and over crevasses, on a steady incline, all while being drenched with intense and relenting sun. It was the sun that was one of my greatest enemies. I was not sure if it was the thinner atmosphere, my choice of black wool undergarments, the fact that I was spending more time on the treks due to my slow, exhausting, pace, or a combination of all of these, but as soon as the sun came out and started bearing down on me, all energy sapped and my pace ground to a crawl. It’s hard to imagine being so hot at the heights just below Everest, but I can attest to them.

We visited the camps above Base Camp on two separate rotations. For the first rotation the team ascended to just under Camp 3 and returned to Base Camp over the course of 6 days. The first rotation was for the purposes of bringing the gear we would need for the final summit push up to Camp 2, and to give us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the route and acclimatize our bodies at a greater elevation. These rotations gave us a first hand look at the Southern Route on the face of Everest itself, as we were not able to see the actual mountain directly from Base Camp. Beyond seeing the face of Everest, we also saw spectacular views of Nuptse and Lhotse, Everest’s conjoined mountain sister. We would need to climb the face of Lhotse to give us access to the best path to the summit of Everest. On these rotations we crossed over deep crevasses, ascended over walls of ice, and climbed the near vertical icy Lhotse face. The first rotation was done with heavy packs loaded with the gear we were going to use for the final summit push. It was tiring, laden, grueling work. Each day of climbing followed a specific cycle for me. It always started with confidence, continued with determination, and ended with exhaustion, self-doubt and frustration. I was slow, and it was evident right away that to get up this mountain, I was going to have to dig deeper than I ever had before.

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The second rotation was where all my preparation was put to the test. Day one was a climb up the Icefall passing Camp 1, and arriving at Camp 2. The first day was an overall ascension of 1200 meters. The whole team was completely exhausted, which prompted us all to take a rest day. After the rest day, it was onto the Lhotse face again and up to Camp 3. The Lhotse face angles sharply upward, and requires that you follow a line, which you are attached to with a safety rope. Many people lose their lives here; one misstep could send you hurdling hundreds of meters down the face.

It was there on the Lhotse face, just below Camp 3, that I found myself alone, out of water, and under a blazing sun. I had started that day climbing in the darkness of early morning, hoping to make it to Camp 3 before the sun reached its apex. Unfortunately, I spent too much time on the face, and found myself in dire circumstances dangling from my safety rope in full heat exhaustion. Utterly drained in a complete state of desperation, I shoved handfuls of snow in my mouth, down my shirt and under my helmet, while I tried to get my goose down climbing gear off. But it was too little too late, and I succumbed to the heat, blacking out on one of the most dangerous mountain faces on Earth.

15 minutes later I awoke, limp and stretched out on the snow, with a taught rope attached from my harness to the main guide line, keeping me from tumbling down the face of Lhotse. Panicked but also thankful that I woke up, I ate another handful of snow and tried to call for my Sherpa and help. In my wearied state each step I took felt like it took forever but eventually I made it to Camp 3.

Upon arrival at Camp 3 I immediately went onto oxygen, and spent the night pondering how close I had come to preemptively ending my life. I thought about all the things I wanted to accomplish, the people I love, and the people I have yet to love.

Climbing

The next day we all left Camp 3, headed up to Camp 4. But at around 7800 meters, the sun crested the mountaintops, the heat started rising, and paranoia set in. My pace slowed, my body started to sweat and I paused on the face of Lhotse for a moment of reflection. I looked up and took in the grandeur of Everest. I assessed the climb I had ahead of me. Fear swept over me, my confidence waned, and I made the difficult decision to stop my summit attempt and head back down. It was not a decision made easily, but when I weighted everything in my mind, it was the choice that made the most sense at the time. I stopped my ascent, turned around, made my way back down to Base Camp over the next 3 days.

In hindsight, I wish I made a different decision. I wish I would have discussed my options with my Sherpa, possibly spent another day at Camp 3 and tried again for the summit with less weight, or tried to figure out a solution to my overheating problem. But life does not have a rewind button. You have to own the decisions you make in life, and you have to look at the big picture.

I am alive to write this story. I have gained amazing friends and seen a place from a perspective that few people in the world will get to see. I realize that the summit was just a part of a much greater journey, and I am grateful for every step I took.

I have learned so much from the process, and someday, when I am able to put the pieces together to afford another expedition to the top of the world, I will make it to the top. Of that, I have the utmost confidence.

 

登山的时机来临时,一切都变得令人振奋不已。走出大本营后遇到的第一个障碍是昆布冰川和昆布冰崩。冰崩是攀登珠峰最危险的因素之一,昆布冰川的冰体会下落500 米,从一号营地的高度落到大本营的高度。随着冰崩,冰川碎成了所谓的“爆米花”。这些楼房大小的冰塔以大约每天4 英尺的速度缓慢破裂、跌落。随着脚下的地面不断分裂、移位、下陷,你就会知道这个地方有多危险。事实上,我每次经过那里,路线都会改变,景色焕然一新。

我喜欢冰崩。正是这些阻碍打破了攀登的单调乏味,也能让我稍作休息,因为我需要时间提起斗志、穿越它们。让我感到压力重重的是延绵不绝的白色冰川。浸浴在强烈而炙热的阳光下,我从平稳的斜坡上穿过雪地,跨过冰隙。太阳是我最大的敌人之一。我不确定是由于空气变得稀薄,我穿了黑色羊毛内衣,疲惫不堪的沉重步伐让我在跋涉中花费了太多时间,或者这些因素全部结合在一起,总之只要太阳一出来,阳光照到身上,我的所有能量就消失殆尽,只能以龟速行进。你很难想象比珠峰稍低的这个海拔竟然有如此之热,但我可以作证。

我们往返两趟,走访了大本营以上的其它营地。第一趟,我们的团队只攀登到离3 号营地不远的位置,6 天以后返回大本营。此行的目的在于将登顶所需的装置带到2 号营地,顺便熟悉路线并让我们的身体适应高海拔。这两趟行程使我们得以亲身观察珠峰的南面路线,因为在大本营是无法看到真正的山峰的。除了一睹珠峰的真容,我们还见识到了与珠峰相连的姊妹山努子峰和洛子峰的壮丽景观。我们得登上洛子峰,这样才能通往攀登珠峰的最佳路径。在往返过程中,我们越过深陷的冰隙,翻过高耸的冰墙,攀上冰雪覆盖的洛子峰近乎垂直的山崖。沉重的背包里装载着登顶所需的装备,第一轮往返顺利完成。这是一项累人的、高负荷的、折磨人的任务。对我来说,每一天的攀登都遵循一个特定的规律。开始时信心满满,之后是坚定不移,最后以精疲力竭、自我怀疑、灰心丧气告终。我的速度很慢,显而易见,为了登上这座山,我得挖掘出前所未有的巨大潜能。

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第二轮往返将我做的所有准备付诸考验。第一天的任务是登上冰瀑,经过1 号营地,最终到达2 号营地,海拔总共上升1200 米。整个团队都精疲力竭,我们只好休息一天。次日,我们再次登上洛子峰,到达3 号营地。洛子峰的冰面很陡峭,你的安全绳索会被系到一根引线上,你需要沿着它攀爬。很多人因失足而在此丧命,坠落数百米直至地面。

在海拔略低于3 号营地的洛子峰上,我发现自己独自一人在烈日下处于缺水的状态。那天天还没亮我就开始攀登,希望在正午之前到达3 号营地。不幸的是我花了太多时间在攀登洛子峰上,以至于发现自己陷入悲惨境地,中暑虚脱之下,只能任由自己悬挂在安全绳索上。身处极度绝望之中,我万般疲惫,一边努力脱掉羽绒服卸下装备,一边抓了几把雪塞进口中、衬衫里和头盔下。但是,我能做的仅此而已,而且已经为时过晚。置身世界上最危险的山脉之一,迫于高温,我昏了过去。

15 分钟后,我醒了过来,在雪地上用僵硬的四肢蹒跚前行。我把身上的绳索系到主引线上,以防在洛子峰上摔倒。惊慌失措却又庆幸自己醒了过来,我又吃了一把雪,并试图向夏尔巴人求助。处于疲惫状态下,我迈出的每一步都显得无比漫长,但最终,我到达了3 号营地。

一到3 号营地,我立马开始吸氧,一整个晚上都在思忖我曾离死神如此之近,差点就失去了生命。我想起所有我想完成的事、我爱的人以及我没来得及去爱的人。

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次日,我们全体离开3 号营地,跋涉至4 号营地。但是,在7800米的高度上,山顶在阳光的照射下显现出一圈光晕,气温开始上升,不安也油然而生。我的步伐很慢,身上开始出汗,我在洛子峰上停了下来,思索了片刻,抬起头,看着珠峰的壮丽。我估算着剩下的攀登距离,一丝恐惧掠过心头,我的自信心逐渐丧失。我作了一个艰难的决定——放弃登顶,调头回去。这是当时我经过深思熟虑以后觉得最合情合理的选择。我不再继续攀登,而是转身返回,用了3 天时间达到大本营。

回头想想,我真希望自己能作出不一样的决定。我该和夏尔巴人一起讨论我的想法,没准可以在3号营地多待一天再尝试减轻负荷后登顶,或者想办法找出对抗高温的解决方案。但是,时光不能倒流,世上也没有后悔药。你得为自己在人生中作出的决定负责,也得顾全大局。

我竟然还能活着来写这个故事。我交到了一群很棒的朋友,以世上为数不多的人所能看到的角度观赏过一个地方。我意识到珠峰只是这场伟大旅行中的一部分。对于自己迈出的每一步,我都心存感激。

在攀登珠峰的过程中,我学到了太多,有一天,当我能把这些碎片拼凑在一起,支撑起另一场世界之巅的探险之旅时,我一定会成功登上顶峰。对此,我怀有极大的信心。


Bio

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Matt Galat has been a Ningbo native for the past 7 years. Moving originally to grow his trading business, his portfolio grew in the city. He was host and producer of the first season of Ningbo Focus TV and he has used Ningbo as a launching pad for trips to Southeast Asia and beyond.

Matt Galat 已经在宁波有7年的时间了,最初来到宁波的是为了发展他的贸易公司,并且在这期间宁波也得到了非常好的发展。他曾经是《宁波聚焦》电视台的主持人以及制片人,并且宁波对于他来说是走向东南亚的一个跳板

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