A while after the first group had left, we could see their lights gleaming on the hillside in the distance. My group set off later. We first had to descend from the campsite before starting the climb to the summit. It felt like we had walked for a long time but in fact it was no more than half an hour before we stopped for another rest.
There was no place to shelter from the wind, so everyone was squatting on the ground with his or her back to the wind. In the blizzard, I noticed two of my team members effectively turning into snowmen. When I reached for my camera from my backpack, I noticed that my bag was entirely frozen like a huge ice pop. My jacket was iced over too. The outside temperature was well below zero.
About one kilometer away from Campsite C1 is the Desperate Slope, which is the last resting post before the final stretch to the top. Near the slope, we caught up with the first group who had set off. We regrouped according to our stamina, five people per group, and the coordinator took the lead. I was in the second group. The altitude difference from Campsite C1 to the mountaintop is 429 meters. That doesn’t sound like a daunting figure, but conquering it was unimaginably painful. At first, we took a short break every 30 steps, later, every 15 steps, such was the stress our bodies were under.
The distance from the Desperate Slope to the summit is just 960 meters, but every step we took was hard work. I could not keep up with my group, so I dropped behind and found a safety rope to slowly continue at my own pace. For the rest of the time, I slogged at the rear of my group and tried my best to keep pace. But before long my group overtook the first group, and left others behind.
The Desperate Slope deserves its name; when you climb one small slope, you think you have reached the top, only to find another steep climb ahead of you and no sign of the summit. I heard the coordinator warning the team not to stay still for too long and continue climbing.
It is said that the most dangerous thing in mountaineering is to fall asleep. I always wondered how anyone could fall asleep in such cold weather. But on this trek, I fully understood. As the altitude increases, the air becomes thin. People suffer severe oxygen deficit and feel weary with every step. If you are stationary for too long, you feel drained and dozy, which makes it easy to lose consciousness. With the coordinator’s caution in mind, the team pressed forward.
A ray of sunshine appeared through the snow. I stomped a pit with my feet on a small platform to have a rest. Then, I saw one of my teammates turning back, she could not go on. She started to descend with the help of our coordinator and we all felt very sorry for her. In fact, I felt like giving up, too, several times. But when I saw three of our team members approaching the top, I encouraged myself to keep going.
After the Desperate Slope comes the reward of the beautiful Moon Bay. To the left there are bold cliffs, and the highest part of the Bay indicates the summit of Haba Snow Mountain. I cannot remember how long it took me to reach Moon Bay but when I looked down, my teammates resembled tiny ants moving slowly.