Physically and mentally exhausted with tears streaming down my face, I had twenty minutes to comprehend where I was. Realisation slowly came over me—I was standing on top of the highest mountain in the earth´s tropics, 6768m. This is how I gave wings to a vision and turned a dream into a reality.
Day 1 – Basecamp (4600m)
Getting from the lodge to basecamp was brutal. The battle commenced with a 3-hour slog hacking my way through thorny bushes with giant secateurs. I asked myself: "why on earth am I doing this?". Watching the sunset that evening reaffirmed my motivations: to live my life, do something radical and go on an adventure that would stay with me forever.
Day 2 – Refuge (4900m)
The walk up to refuge was straightforward, but I stumbled across a situation that would keep me on edge until the moment I finally plodded off the mountain alive. We bumped into two Colombians making their way from Camp 1 to Camp 2. I did a double take; they were covered in blood, had broken teeth and one guy was having difficulty breathing. The fear in their eyes made me feel uneasy and when I looked up to see where they had come from, the sun blinded my eyes and forced me to look away.
Day 3 – Camp 1 (5400m)
Getting to Camp 1 was easy going and the weather was idyllic, which had a calming effect, but the ominous gulley up ahead was taunting me that things were about to get gnarly, and indeed they did…
Day 4 – Camp 2 (6000m)
Blood pumping, heart racing, and with the image of two blood-spattered Columbians etched in my mind, we set out nervously. It was time to play Russian roulette.
Day 5 – Summit Attempt No.1(6768m)
2am the following morning. The previous night’s snowfall had buried the markers and the route was no longer visible. We were lost and had to turn back when we reached the edge of an impassable crevasse.
Kicking my crampons hard into the snow as we descended the 120-degree slope, I was breathing heavy and wary of my balance. I could only see the patch where my head torch lit up the ground. Suddenly, when the snow changed to solid ice, I was given too much slack. Time froze and I slipped, falling several metres before slamming into the ice. Dangling helplessly, I had stared death in the face.
Day 6 – Summit (6768m)
After a gruelling 24 hours of waiting, trying to force the day’s memory out of my mind, it was time to get up and go again. I hadn’t slept a wink. With clear weather the approach to the summit was painstakingly slow, but it was just a question of focusing on each step.
As I saw the rising sun cast a perfect mountain silhouette on the horizon, I started to remember why I love adventures and what hard work can bring us. The summit was meters away, my emotions were shot to pieces, and that was when the tears began to trickle uncontrollably down my face. I had nailed it.
Day 7 – Home & Dry
Climbing can be tough, but it teaches you to dig deep, find strength and be resourceful. Visiting such beautiful spots where few people are so fortunate to set foot, gives you a great respect for nature and the world we live in. Enjoy it.
Written by Luke Blezard. See more of Luke's adventures on Instagram: @lukeblezard
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