|A typical segment of the trail|
|Rwenzori means "the mountains of the moon"|
|Getting suited up|
|To give you an idea...|
First, our guide, then Jim, then me, our fate connected by one rope. After only 2 m of glacier travel, I looked up in horror as my teammate grinded the teeth of his crampons into our climbing rope the way you would stamp on a cockroach that refuses to die. "Jim, you're stepping on the rope." He flung his body up the glacier in a bizare leap of faith, limbs flailing about, crampons scratching at the ice but not taking hold. Imagine a fledgling heron in the Everglades in one of those documentaries, leaping from the nest and trying to avoid the alligators below - thus was the grace and power I beheld above me. I continued to watch in horror as this fledgling heron failed desperately to cling to the glacier or decide on any one technique and stick to it. One of his crampons then flung off and slid toward me. A second attempt, with some coaching from the other guide, was no better. This time, the crampon broke. It was no use, he was wearing some sort of work boots that were bending all over the place and not stiff enough for the task. Then, our guide managed to fix the crampon with some shoelace. I expressed my concerns to him. "I don't feel comfortable climbing this glacier attached to Jim, his crampons have come off twice!" His response was classic: "It's ok, no problem." In such moments, one must simply say TIA. I had to decide fast, should I really do this, considering my insurance didn't cover mountaineering, a small detail which the company seemed to overlook (once again, TIA). Anyway, I weighed the risks and rewards and said screw it, and up we went. I guess the 3rd time's the charm, as they say. We made it over the glaciers! Behind us, the semi-experienced mountaineers were discussing technique with their own guide. "Martin, this is too much rope between us, what if you were to fall?" It's ok, I'm not going to fall" replied Martin cockily. "Not even the best mountaineer says that" replied Jared. I have to say, I did laugh but at the same time it added a little hairiness to the whole vibe of the glacier traverse/climb. Here is another memorable exchange from post-climb: I told Jim "next time get some proper mountain boots." His reply was "well, I showed them to the guides before we left and the said it was ok, so it was not my problem." I didn't bother at that point! Back to our tale. The summit came into sight, I requested my guide's permission to be "unleashed," and I bolted the last 100m to the top. I was a true king on that day. My concerns for Jim's imminent death of heart attack or sudden fall disappeared as I basked in the glory of the alpine sun and the clouds cleared to herald my arrival at this legendary summit.
|"One of the best days of my life"|