A Stormy Night
At 3 a.m. on October 4, some teams got up and gathered to set off for Campsite C1 to reach the peak directly from there. Considering the difficulty, our team planned to hike to Campsite C1, stay there overnight and climb to the top the next day. We got more sleep and set off at 9 a.m.
Campsite C1 is about six kilometers away from the base – not a long distance, but the altitude rises sharply from 4,080 meters to over 4,960 meters in that stretch. Moreover, the ground was wet due to the light snow.
Half an hour later, we reached a hilltop and stopped to rest because the last part had taken so much energy. Suddenly, a huge rainbow appeared. We were so delighted by the sight that we almost forgot how tired we were. Everyone was busy taking photos. Under the rainbow, the blue roofs of the base camp seemed small and far away.
As we arrived at Campsite C1, the sun came out, the snow stopped falling and the wind died down. We could see a clear blue sky in the distance. Campsite C1 is at an altitude of 4,967 meters and on a ground of gravel and rocks. By 2 p.m., all our team members had arrived at the campsite and we began to put up our tents. There was only one small, level area for us to pitch camp, but it was not sheltered and the gravel ground was not suitable for tent pegs.
To add to our difficulties, the wind was rising. We stamped on the pegs until they bent but the tents could still not be secured. We had no other choice but to lay big rocks on the corners of the tents. Under the circumstances, carrying rocks was no easy feat. The frozen air made it painful to take off our gloves and expose our hands, and at high altitude people easily become exhausted when exerting themselves. Every time we carried a rock, we were out of breath after setting it down and had to pause to recover.
As soon as all the tents were erected, we immediately went inside them and lay down. From that point, no one ventured out of the tents except to collect snow to boil water or relieve themselves. The snow and wind continued the whole night. I hardly slept. Several times, I feared my tent would be blown away.
The next morning we got up at 4 a.m. and prepared for the big day. We boiled water to make instant noodles for breakfast and filled our thermos bottles.
The team was divided into four groups and set off at 5 a.m. one after another. The tents remained at the campsite so we could leave our belongings there but we all took our jackets, some food and cameras. We wore quick-dry clothing, fleeces, down coats and waterproof jackets to keep as warm as possible. We were also equipped with waterproof gloves, crampons, safety belts and helmets, but whether our big moment would come remained unknown.