The night before we pushed to camp 3, I had drawn the short straw to sleep in the cook tent so that everyone else could sleep two to a tent. It was a broken sleep: avalanches slabbing into the night, vivid dreams of reliving distant memories, and the shouting of real people as an individual fell into a crevasse leading their rope team down Motorcycle Hill, to be pulled back out shortly after.
The move up to camp 3 was a steep direct walk up Motorcycle Hill, over Squirrel Hill, Polo Field and round Windy Corner. It was too hot to be comfortable in the high twenties (celsius); we ran out of water half way through the day and progress was slow. It took almost 8 hours to reach our cache location, and almost another 2 hours to make it to Camp 3. The final push negotiated yawning crevasses the would swallow double decker buses. The fingers on my right hand went numb before we reached camp.
As we approached camp, I noticed that the temperature dropped into the minus twenties. I struggled between shivering and dropping into a dark destructive sleep. My words were slurred and I watched, collapsed on my pulk, as team mates took off my crampons and helped me get my big gloves, puff trousers and down jacket on. I felt drunk, and my toes went numb as my energy-lacking body struggled to maintain temperature- altitude sickness had robbed me of appetite throughout the day and punished me with nausea when I did eat. As the last rope team came in, they too were helped by the first team who had arrived. I fought my boots off, got clean dry socks on and down booties on, then retired to a tent that had been pitched in the time it had taken me to get all my layers on.
The following morning was different. We’d been subjected to bad weather, numb extremities, dehydration, and a huge day that started in the morning and finished with dinner served at 1.30am then following day. This morning was time for recovery: tuna surprise for breakfast, back carrying from the previous cache, building walls around our tents using sawed blocks of snow, and just taking in the spectacular scenery that we were privileged to witness first-hand.