Wednesday, 24 August 2011

This week...Accident on K2

"At that moment, what we had all been dreading occurred. Something threw Bell off balance and he fell. I never saw Bell fall, but to my horror I saw Streather being dragged off the slope and making desperate efforts to jam the pick of his axe into the ice and stop.
Streather had been standing above the rope from Houston to me. In almost the same instant I saw Houston swept off, and though I turned and lunged at the hard ice with the point of my axe, a terrible jerk ripped me from my hold and threw me backward head first down the slope. This is it! I thought as I landed heavily on my pack. There was nothing I could do now.

We had done our best, but our best wasn't good enough. This was the end. Since nobody was on the rope with Houston and me, there was no one else to hold us, and I knew that nothing could stop us now. On the slope below, no rock jutted on which the rope between us could catch. Only thousands of feet of empty space separated us from the glacier below. It was like falling off a slanting Empire State Building six times as high as the real one.
Thrown violently backward, with the hood of my down jacket jammed over my eyes, I had a feeling of unreality, of detachment. The future was beyond my control. All I knew was that I landed on my pack with great force, bouncing faster and faster, bumping over rocks in great thumps.The next bound I expected to take me over a cliff in a terrible drop that would finish it all, when, by a miracle, I stopped sliding.

This week, a classic tale of Himalayan triumph and tragedy.
Charles Houston and Robert Bates dramatic account of the event which defined the US 1953 Karakoram expedition.An event which more than justified the peaks sobriquet 'The Savage Mountain'.