Long eventful day!
Blue Lagoon Base Camp
Edward Bailey Glacier, Renland
N71 Degrees 11’ 500”, W026 Degrees 10.318’
Berghaus expedition photography, copyright Matt Pycroft of Coldhouse Collective
Productive day! Long with a brutal, slightly terrifying start but all in all PROGRESS!
Really feels like we’re starting to get somewhere – I don’t want to say the top’s in sight but it definitely feels a little closer.
I was brutally awoken from a deep sleep by the unmistakable sound of a missile, fast approaching, dead on target. It’s an awful noise and was a second later followed by a sickening thud and a scream. I’m hit. A stone the size of a fist, and remarkably dense, fell out of the sky at great velocity and hit me directly in the balls! It felt like I was 10 and someone had kicked me there. I looked down to see a cloud of the highest quality down feathers in the world pouring from a massive hole in my sleeping bag. Shock subsiding, I realise that I am okay and we laugh. My lucky rock, the one that didn’t hit me in the face or permanently disfigure me, but dropped out of nowhere and hit me in the balls, is now in the lid of my rucksack. I went back to sleep wearing my helmet.
It actually scared me quite a bit. Of course, I am sleeping outside, half way up a massive cliff, in a hostile Alpine environment, in a particularly remote corner of northern Greenland. But our camp is in a pretty safe spot, sheltered by a small roof, exposed to no apparent fall lines and I have no idea where that rock came from or how it managed to attain the trajectory required to strike me as it did. Try as we might to manage all of the risks as best we can, fundamentally it is not safe up here. Or down there for that matter.
This is my first major expedition as a father and given the tragedy surrounding my life in the last couple of years, I am hyper aware of the risk we are facing out here and the responsibility waiting back home.
My daughter Freya is about to turn two and Daddy will be suffering his ass up a random, dangerous mountain that nobody has heard of in the middle of nowhere. Our efforts begin to seem a little in vain if this train of thought is lingered on for too long.
Truth is, I was well aware of the risks for the months I spent planning this mission from the domestic bliss of a stable home, loving wife and heart-melting daughter. My home life in the Lakes is at this moment idyllic. I could not ask for more, but the lure of these savage, wild, untamed places and the undying drive to challenge such impossible looking, perfect faces, always smoulders quietly in the back of my mind.
And here we are. I love the adventure – the clear sense of purpose of striving hard to achieve unreachable goals. But man, I always forget what hard work it is climbing in this style!
I am not the first to face the constant battle of the heart between savouring the ephemeral joy of a young family and seizing the short days we have in our years to slay dragons and fulfil ambitious dreams. But I fear that this cross will be mine to bear for many years, the rest of my life perhaps?