Day 22  - 6/8/03  - Wednesday

Although technically still yesterday I'll count it as today. Up at 11 pm for a 11:30 start, hot drinks and all the warm layers I have with me are not enough to keep me toasty warm. Its very very cold, but there is little wind and a nearly full moon. We start out, up the scree slope which in case you have the memory of a gold fish we're informed is loose at least every 2 minutes. The moon disappears around 3 am. About 6:30 it starts to get light, but because the sun is the other side of the mountain it's not until we get to the level bit at the top of the (loose!) scree slope (about 2 in 3, all the way up) that we get the sun. The scree slope has its hairy moments with ice and 100 ft sheer drops. When we stop for a breather we all huddle together in an effort to keep warm. Simon's being stroppy because he's 'tired' (as if the rest of us aren't). Going up that slope is officially the hardest thing I've ever done! By the time we get to the flat bit at the top the sun has been up for a couple of hours, we warm up quickly and get our first glimpse of the summit proper, sounded by a lunar landscape and massive sheets of ice. To continue the unconventional approach to summiting we have a kip for an hour or so on the sun soaked sandy area left by a glacier. After much coaxing of a stroppy Simon we start up the final 150m or so to the summit, this takes what seems like hours as we have to stop every 15 meters for a rest. We finally get within a 3 minute walk of the summit and Simon stops, lays on the ground and refuses to move.. Various people try to get him to move, Cliff lays down next to him for 10 minutes, to no avail, After an hour or a couple of us head down with Badga with the plan to carry / drag him to the summit if he still refuses to move, but Badga manages to get him up before that's required. Our 'tans' topped up for the second time that day we continue, get to the summit for 1:10pm (most people aim to do it at dawn or as shortly afterwards as possible). The view from the summit is amazing, huge ice sheets, waterfalls off glaciers with massive icicles, and 360o of the type of view's we had been getting all the way up. Because of the time and peoples states (Geoff has Pulmonary Oedema, and coughs up yellow gunk too regularly to be healthy!) we spend the bare minimum of time at the summit, a couple of photographs and we start on our way down. Lunch about 2. We send a message with one of the guides to move our camp for the night closer to where we are. We speed down the scree slope on the other side, nearly skiing on lose stones at times. Every time we stop we seem to fall asleep, and continue when somebody wakes up and rouses us. We move down though one layer of cloud and back into sunshine, the valley we're rushing down has some amazing geological features. We spot camp, a depressingly long way off. The sun starts to go down. We reach what we though was out camp only to find its the next one! We continue, Cliff is a little out of it, and after stumbling several times sits down. I head off to get Badga who's a fair way ahead of us. Arriving at camp 7pm (a whole 18 hours after leaving the last camp!) I find the rest of the team. But no tents, bags etc. We wait, it gets dark. A tent arrives and is put up on large chunks of slate. We all huddle in, 10 odd people in a 3 man tent, not comfortable but warm! Cliff arrives with Badga, he's into a tent and asleep before long. As the rest of our tents and kit arrives slowly we file out of tent. The nicest 'Spag Bol' I've ever had up a massive mountain is served to those of us who manages to stay awake this long, in our tents around 8:30 pm. I unsurprisingly have no problems getting to sleep having been up for 22 hours!