I climb the North Wall of the mountain like a spider, clasping my rope on shiny pitons left behind by older expeditions. The sun warms my neck; a breeze softly laps my face. The air is thin, but the atmosphere is wonderful. I suck it in, loving it. ‘As if in paradise,’ I keep repeating to myself.
The sky is starting to turn orangey red, and a beautiful blue: ultramarine blue. I’ll need to start hurrying; it will be dark soon and at this altitude the weather might change for the worse. But that seems unimaginable. As I climb I stick my foot into a crevice. It turns a bit, but the thick rubber sole of my climbing boot stays put. I clasp my rope on a hook, but it breaks off completely. I lean dangerously back. The adrenaline shoots through my veins and in a reflex I throw myself back against the mountain, and try to grip on to anything that sticks out.
I notice that the piton above me has a rusty patch. Then I notice that all the pitons above me are rusty.
‘Fuck,’ some amateur must have left them, using amateur gear. Why didn’t I take my own pitons, ‘… the fecking eejit I am. And, only to save that bit of extra weight?’ Continue reading