The Node Bulletins : Number Eight
Gilgit, 2 August. Wonder of wonders, we are approaching the Snow King. Miraculously, this is thanks to Pugh, though I believe more by accident than design. He insisted that we ignore a clear path with a sign bearing the legend ‘This way to K2’, leading us instead across hostile terrain for two days. I was about to tax him with this when we met some Japanese tourists. They assured us that we were on the right track. One of them took a fancy to Flatpole, who responded by throwing him off the edge of a precipice, with the hackneyed observation that there was a nip in the air. I shudder to think what might happen should we meet a Chinese party. If she were to find an admirer in its ranks, she would probably give him a thrashing, then make some fatuous remark about a chink in his armour.
As we must soon tackle serious mountaineering, I today arranged a practice session, involving the ascent and descent of a sheer rock face. After a good start, the exercise turned into a total farce when Gannett and Thoroughbrace, who are similar in size, tried out their abseiling techniques. They used a crude pulley of their own design and somehow got their ropes fastened together, winding up with one man rising while the other was falling, then vice versa, like a pair of opposed yoyos.
Finally, Gannett seized a large loose rock at the end of an upward trip. Thus weighted, he outscaled Thoroughbrace, so came down with a crash. This left his partner stuck at the top and creating a great fuss, while our quartermaster refused to relinquish his rock, for fear of soaring as abruptly as he had dropped. At length, by inducing Gannett to accept a smaller stone, I got the two into equilibrium near a ledge halfway up the face, from where we recovered them by rope ladder. Perhaps it would have been better to leave them dangling. Command is a trying role.
The final Node Bulletin coming soon.
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