Notes from an early Descent

Swarjit Samajpati shares his experiences in a first person account of what transpired on Day 6 of the Mount Thelu expedition.

I was tired after the long climb to the Summit Camp and took my time getting down the snow slope. By the time I reached the crevasse it had gotten bigger. I jumped across the crevasse and continued on my way down over the slate section. I hurried across the snow field which by this time had started melting and forming an icy sludge due to the afternoon heat. While crossing the ice field I ran out of water, which started to add to my tiredness. As I was in a hurry to reach the Advanced Base Camp, I kept on moving and finally crossed the ice field and started my final descent through the moraines. By the time I reached the camp site I was exhausted, had a mild headache and also feeling nauseous.

After some rest and discussion with senior members about my condition, I decided not to take chances. If my condition got worse, I would become a liability for the other team members and this could jeopardise the expedition for some of the members who would have to take me back to safety. And so I made up my mind that this was to be the highest that I would go on this expedition, and I would descend back to base camp.

Some of the others team members were also not feeling well and one of the team members was injured. A few of the sick members decided to stay back at Advanced Base Camp and go ahead with the expedition as scheduled. After having lunch, I was feeling much better and four of us (including the injured team member) started our descent to Base Camp. We started a slow and careful descent through the moraines and it took us around two hours to reach the Base Camp.

After having dinner, I retreated to my tent. Lying in the tent I was disappointed and sad that I couldn’t carry on to the top of Mount Thelu. In retrospection, I was trying to figure out what went wrong and what I should have done differently. After much thought I figured out that the activities of the past two days had an accumulated fatiguing effect. Due to the bad weather on Day 4 (Load Ferry from Base Camp to Advanced Base Camp), I had not been able to drop my technical equipment at Advanced Base Camp, which meant that I had to carry the entire load (technical equipment and personal belongings) to Advanced Base Camp on Day 5. Further, my haste to reach the Advanced Base Camp back after the Summit Camp Load Ferry added to my woes. I should have rested in between when I got tired during the descent from Summit Camp and also should have replenished my water supply to avoid unnecessary strain on my body.

In spite of not going further than Summit Camp, I thought about the positives things I gained from the expedition so far. During the entire expedition, I had walked pretty well within my limits. I had tackled tough glaciers, moraines, crossed a freezing cold Nala, and for the first time in my life, I had scaled an altitude of approximately 5500m. The most important thing which I experienced from this expedition was the climbing code – “Never let judgement be overruled by desire when choosing the route or deciding whether to turn back”.

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