Stephen Fahey – Day Five
Reporting from Camp IV on Mount Everest, via Everest Link; Joseph Ernst
Day Five: 2 P.M., Camp IV.
It happened. We did it! We bloody did it!! At 3 A.M. Prajun woke me while Bishal woke Murray and we headed into an almost silent night. The storm passed just as soon as we fell asleep and before it had a chance to regain itself our guides hard-marched us for the Death Zone. I was so exhilarated that Hillary’s Step was the easiest climb of my life. We were ahead of the Scots and the Canadians and with Clarence watching over us we reached the abyss again. Clarence’s footprints were long gone, the storm had stolen those from him too, but we didn’t linger. Instead, we hooked unto the fixed rope, got across the abyss, unhooked and made our assault on the summit.
Well into the death Zone before even reaching the Step, we were moving so slow that the mountain felt endless. Added to that, each crest promised to be last until we reached it and then another loomed above us. But it came. Just as we began to think it never would. Out of survival, I had started assuming each crest would automatically have another beyond it and when I reached the summit I was looking around me for the next crest of rock. But there was none.
The joy; not only for myself and my family and friends, and for all they have sacrificed for me to be there and for their trust in my madness, and also for the mountain herself, for taking me into her bosom… well, I’m crying again just writing these words. Up there I looked in each direction and saw the whole world. Murray and I put our arms tight around each other and laughed so hard through the tears that I think God actually heard us.
We took some photos as sunrise burst open over Nepal and attached prayer flags to rocks and then we took in the view one last time. I have climbed most mountains worth climbing and I have travelled the world, but I have never, even once, felt what I felt at the top of world. So exhausted, with almost no sleep for three days, despite the massive rush of achievement, vindication and satisfaction, and the honour of the moment, I was so tired and hungry and battered that all I wanted to do was get down and go home to Maria and the kids and go to see Susan in person and be there for her.
In the end it’s sad. Only now do I see that the pleasure has been in the dream all along.