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Alpamayo – Peru 1987

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I clip into the rope and before I begin my descent from off the top of the mountain I notice Roger huddled anxiously beneath his helmet, standing on top of the buried snow stake – to weight it. I also notice the line of rope I’m clipped onto disappear into the snow between us. I reassure myself the stake is solid enough. My boots sink into the side of the huge overhanging summit block, the soft snow flaking off as I abseil though the cloud into a brilliant full-moon night. Fifty metres below the summit, a kilometre and a half above the valley floor, I join Kevin and Sarah, clipping myself to the ice screws then disconnecting myself from the rope. With my ice axe I chip out a small step to stand on.

As Roger joins us Kevin and I heave on one end of the rope trying to pull it through the snow stake on the summit. It doesn’t move. It has frozen into the snow. Kevin volunteers to climb back up and free the rope.

I have no idea how much time passes as we wait for Kevin’s return. Several hours maybe of standing still, freezing beneath the cold night sky. I turn around to face the world beyond the mountain. Not a noise is heard except the hum of the earth. Nothing rises, nothing falls, nothing moves with the order in which it had done before. My body, my mind, and my soul are ordered to something far greater than anything that I had ever felt before. Who would I be if I never touched such greatness?                                                                                            NEXT

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