Those of us
below, meanwhile, could only guess at the moment of triumph; for us, May 13 was
another working day. Georg, Adam, Ang Dawa and I carried supplies as far as
possible toward Camp 3 and then bivouacked for the night.
The next day, as
we made our way through a snowstorm toward the camp, we could make out directly
above us snow-shrouded figures which painfully and slowly groped their way down
from Camp 4. When we reached Camp 3 Ernst Forrer, Albin Schelbert and Peter
Diener were there, grinning broadly. They had made it!
Even this moment
of triumph, however, was shadowed with anxiety; we were not allowed to forget
where we were, what still had to be done. Peter was in bad shape. He had
reached the summit only with a superhuman effort. He was numb and half gone
with exhaustion, and what he said did not make too much sense. Ang Dawa and I
roped him between us and started slowly down to the relative safety and comfort
of Camp 2. It was close to 6 o'clock when we reached the camp and helped him to
Well after dark
we heard Kurt's voice outside. In he came with the two Sherpas, Nawang Dorje
and Nima Dorje. They, too, were grinning all over. These two were not famous
Sherpas, just young fellows. And now they had been to the summit of
Six men had made
the summit so far. For the rest of us the challenge remained, and one by one we
took our turns.
Adam and Michel
started up from Camp 2 on the 15th. But the altitude seemed to affect Adam more
than the others; he climbed so slowly that we sent two Sherpas to fetch him
back. He refused to come. He bivouacked out in the open on the side of the
mountain, and the next day we watched as he resumed climbing ever more slowly.
Michel, farther up, finally had to come back down to help him. Still higher we
could see clearly Hugo, Jean-Jacques and their Sherpas move up the slope from
Camp 3 to Camp 4.
On the morning of
the 17th we saw one dot leave Camp 3 and recognized Michel. Evidently Adam was
not well and could move neither up nor down. He was waiting for Georg and me to
binoculars we watched Michel toil up a 55� ice slope. His progress was
painfully slow. We saw a man at Camp 5 looking down the northeast face of
Dhaulagiri at Michel's slow advance. Obviously, Hugo and Jean-Jacques and their
two Sherpas had not yet moved up to Camp 6, and we fervently hoped that Michel,
with his tremendous will power, would catch up with them. His climb to join the
men on Camp 5 was a marvelous piece of pluck.
So now we had
another party within striking distance, but also possibly a sick man alone at
Camp 3. Adam's condition had to be investigated. Georg and I had tried the day
before to get up to him but had been turned back; burdened by heavy loads,
wading through snow that was up to our knees, we had unwittingly made a depot
within three inches of the edge of a crevasse—a close call! But the next day,
May 19, we were able to try again. Inwardly we hoped that, with luck, Adam
would be all right and we would be able to make our own summit bid.
that day, however, was a mass of swirling snow and snow plumes that blew out
for miles into the sky. Never had we seen the mountain so completely
terrifying. The wind tore at us in maniacal rage as we fought our way upward.
Our feet congealed until they felt like paralyzed lumps of ice, and I grew
really worried that we might end up with frozen toes that would have to be
amputated. Incongruously, all I could think of was that this would mean no more
tennis for me. The idea of tennis was idiotic in these circumstances, but that
is the kind of thing one thinks of at those heights.