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Dan Mazur Ama Dablam Expedition: Dispatch 31

Dispatch 31: Camille Kinny from Sydney Australia, age 20: The Youngest Woman to reach the summit!!

Here is her short story in her words:

Ama Dablam 2003 Home
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Dan Mazur

I can't really remember a lot of our summit day. I'm not sure if it was the altitude, exhaustion, or that I've just got a bad memory. I remember laying in the tent all night wondering if it was light outside yet, and if the tent was gonna rip apart in the wind. I remember stumbling over to the beginning of the fixed rope, we were last out of camp (besides the Sherpas) and although it looked flat and only a short distance from the tent to where Dan was waiting, it took forever to get over there and I was puffed by the time I did. My fingers and toes were biting with the pain of verging numbness- I was worried about frostbite for the next few hours, I hardly gave a thought to checking my safety or enjoying the view. Plus I was too wasted. Every step was a huge effort; I'd think about it, plan my footing, gather the energy for it and then execute it. I seemed to move in slow-motion. I'm not sure if I really did or if that's my brain failing me again. I felt like crying every time the snow collapsed under my foot.

I was waiting to be told to turn back- that I wouldn't make it and it was best that I return to camp. So in the meantime, as much as it hurt (and it really hurt), I just took each step as it came. Dan pointed out the snow cone which he said was the summit- I pretended to understand. I had no idea what he was pointing to, how far away it was, and I believed I didn't need to because I'd be sent back soon. At some point my pack was taken off me and one of the Sherpas (I don't know who) carried it the rest of the way. I was grateful, and felt bad that I was a burden to the group, that I held up the progress, that I couldn't be self-sufficient and carry my own gear, but at the same time I didn't feel any better having lost the weight on my back- although Dad says he couldn't keep up with me after that.

I remember thinking the slope was steep, not feeling intimidated or in awe, just that it was a bit of a pain that it was so steep. My thoughts were interrupted by Chris- I found him dragging me across a fairly flat area (it must've taken me a while to think about the slope), his arm supporting me as we walked; I wasn't sure if it was a hug, a victory walk, or if he was just helping me. I can't even remember unclipping from the rope. All I could think about was how tired I was, how weak I felt, just that I wanted to sleep.

We didn't spend long taking photos. If the rest of our team hadn't been pulling out cameras, I don't know that I would've thought to get mine out. I just wanted to get down, head in the right direction. I hadn't expected to summit so I didn't really believe that I had. I took a brief look at the view, someone took my pack again, and the next few hours we spent trying to rappel back down to camp. It was slow. I had huge communication problems. I kept trying to put my figure-8 on the rope while Larry was still getting off. Whoever was behind me kept doing the same. It was hard to operate the gear because I couldn't feel what my fingers were doing. I'd given up on them, I wondered how many I'd lost to frostbite, and how I'd explain it to everyone back home. I still don't know what caused it, or when it started, but the muscles up the back of my neck and across the top of my shoulders were aching. It made rappelling excruciating. I couldn't look between my legs to see where I was walking, I couldn't look over my shoulder.... I ended up rappelling sideways. All I remember of the descent is desperately wanting to get down into the tent to rest, and not trusting an anchor- the first time I'd had the presence of mind to question one.

Back in camp we gathered snow, put all our gear in a pile (which we'd have to dig up in the morning) and spent about an hour getting into the tent- all 3 of us together. I couldn't face attempting to go any further- I knew I wouldn't make it to Camp 2, even though we'd hoped to descend to Camp 1, if not Base. Chris didn't want to go any further either, and Dad was exhausted. He emptied out my pack and put on my duvet before he realised it wasn't his. Chris and I were freaked out; we kept telling him to spit in the snow so we could see if it was red. He refused. Once we finally got him in the tent (everyone moved so slowly), after he'd stepped all over his mat with his crampons still on, and after he'd gotten into bed, while Chris melted snow for our dehydrated spaghetti bolognaise; he answered addition and subtraction questions. So Chris and I decided that he was just tired. As we laid back in the dark after hours of melting snow, listening to the wind picking up in wailing busts, sometimes hailing the tent with snow it had whipped up, I wished we could've gone on to Camp 2 with Bryan and Ryan. But at the same time, I felt glad to have been able to crawl into the tent and not walk any further. Our summit day ended with the dreaded midnight 'expedition'- I hated getting out of the tent in the night, but Camp 3 was by far the worst place to need to go to the bathroom. I timed my exit of the tent and dived outside (luckily it was just blowing icy-cold wind and no snow) but before I could get safe again I was pelted with cutting little icies. That was our last day of decent health. After that we got really desperate to get down as our progress slowed right down, and we got weaker and sicker.

Now that we're back home and almost recovered I can look back and feel satisfaction with having summited, and also feel excited about the things we say and did. We had an incredible time, and were well looked after. Its just a bit of a pity that at the time your just too wasted to comprehend much of it. Camille Kinny

Thanks for all your efforts to tell the story about Himalayan climbing! Yours Sincerely from Daniel Mazur and SummitClimb.com

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