Fly to: Almaty Kazakhstan
Internal Transfer: Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Karakol (Kyrgyzstan) in minibus (9hrs 30mins)
Karakol, Kyrgyzstan - Inylchek (9hrs) in an Ex-Soviet off road Military Truck
Ex-Soviet military helicopter flight up the Inylchek glacier (35mins)
Visa required: Yes if British for both Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan
Currency:Tenge (Kazakhstan) & Som (Kyrgyzstan)
Time Zone:+6hrs GMT
Day 15, 02/08/08: Tien Shan
Up at 4:30am this morning, I ate a gorgeous dehydrated breakfast of porridge & strawberries - it's apparent that I'm the only one eating these breakfasts (can't think why they're fantastic!).
We left camp knowing full well how hard the slog to camp 2 was; thankfully the weather stayed overcast making the push bearable (camp 1: 4600m/camp 2: 5500m). Due to the heat over the last two days large sections of snow had melted leaving exposed rock, this made sections of the climb a lot more technically demanding. I climbed up with two of the lads as the quicker pace suited me; the camaraderie between us was brilliant & it really felt like the three of us were climbing as a team. As one of the guys climbed up onto the rock section he sent some rocks crashing down; a pretty intense moment! Tempers were fraying slightly & there were shouts of, 'watch what your f*cking doing!'
As I climbed up the rock section (the dreaded shit tower) I decided to switch from the dodgy B&Q blue nylon rope I was on (as it was looking a bit unstable); after doing so I thought no more of it. A Russian girl then passed us, she was abseiling pretty tentatively & her team mate had said they had already made the summit of Khan Tengri. They continued down but the rope she was fixed to snapped; she took a horrific vertical fall. Luckily for her the snapped rope had tangled itself around her body shocking the fall. Other climbers coming up rushed to tie her in.
On reaching camp 2 we began melting snow, digging out the tent platforms and building snow walls. Incredibly the digging proved absolutely exhausting, as every time you stood straight you felt extremely light headed & dizzy. On the way to camp 2 the 3 of us had stopped to uncover one of the food stashes buried previously (when not all the team had made camp 2 on the load carry); the remaining stash of tent parts the guide carried up himself.
Tent pitching proved really exciting because the guys had never pitched in deep snow...ahem my cue to do a full tutorial! We pitched using plastic food bags as snow anchors & we also dug out the vestibule foot-well (with ice axe & shovel) leaving a small work surface for cooking etc. Having a foot-well worked a treat because we were in the Terra Nova Hyperspace which has basically zero vestibule space. Great day felt good to push myself physically & I was having dehydrated chicken Tikka for dinner - bliss! (I'm starting to worry about how excited I'm getting about these dehydrated meals). Admittedly today there have been times when I've felt outside my comfort zone technically, but it's been a great (intensive) learning curve, I'm just not looking forward to the descent! We're all in good spirits & the main thing is that we're yet another step closer to our objective...the elusive summit!