The view was worth the effort…


We awoke late.  Nevertheless we went ahead with our attempt to climb Rubicon (1,700m) – a mountain forming part of the east flank of the Qinguadalen valley.  It was a beautiful day; a cloudless azure sky, a bright sun and no wind.  However such a day is not altogether perfect.  In the valley a myriad of mosquitoes and black flies took advantage of the fine weather and attacked us relentlessly.  Once above biting insect level at around 500m, we breathed a sigh of relief.  But for me the relief was short.  Strenuous climbing under a scorching sun, without the appropriate intake of water, left me exhausted with a headache and a loss of confidence.  A low-angled snow slope seemed to me like a precipitous ice-fall and I was only vaguely aware that we had reached the summit of another previously unclimbed mountain. It was time for me to stop.  While the others moved on to attempt another peak (Median) I sprawled in the shade.  For two or three hours I was in a daze and unable to focus on anything but the complaints of my miserable body.  Then gradually I became aware of my surroundings.  The setting sun highlighted the seemingly endless mosaic of peaks and glaciers and for a short time my world was gilded.  It was breathtaking.  I forgot my exhaustion and luxuriated in the beauty around me.  I remember thinking this would be a good time and place to die.  But I was not quite ready for that. My reverie was broken by my friends returning from the summit of Median.  I expected “victory” smiles but the faces of John and Pete were creased with worry and Richard’s face showed pain and he was limping badly.  It was going to be a challenging descent.  But that’s another story.