Law­tu­torscaled Hi­malayan­peak of6,000m

Bray People - - NEWS -

A TU­TOR who nor­mally teaches law at Bray In­sti­tute of Fur­ther Ed­u­ca­tion also teaches out­door lead­er­ship and has climbed the moun­tain Stok Kan­gri in the In­dian Hi­malayas.

Sean Cryan was backpacking in In­dia and in the town of Leh, dis­cov­ered the Stok Kan­gri climb of 6,120m.

In a guide­book, he learned that it was re­puted to be the eas­i­est peak above 6,000 in the world.

‘ There was no op­tion, this had to be in­ves­ti­gated. This peak had to be climbed.’

Here, he tells his story from after his ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion treks: THE climb would take four days. The first day was a 10 hour walk-in to a stand­ing base camp at 5,000m.

The sum­mit at­tempt be­gan at mid­night the next day so I had time to recce the start of the route over a steep spur along its ridge to meet the lat­eral glacial mo­raine and then to tra­verse the glacier it­self which I would leave un­til sum­mit day.

It was this tra­verse that I was not so con­fi­dent about. Dif­fer­ent moun­taineer­ing guide books gave con­flict­ing routes across the glacier and the as­sur­ances I had been given from var­i­ous trekking agen­cies con­firm­ing that it was not nec­es­sary to rope-up while cross­ing did not seem so re­as­sur­ing now that I looked down on it.

By 2 a.m. on the morn­ing of the sum­mit at­tempt I made my way to the edge of the glacier hop­ing for some divine in­spi­ra­tion.

Thank­fully there were lights in the dark­ness, climbers fum­bling around on the edge of the glacier try­ing to se­cure cram­pons.

Other par­ties emerged from the dark­ness too and now the route seemed busy. I was a lit­tle more set­tled when I saw that other climbers were un-roped as well. I fol­lowed their line across the glacier, care­fully check­ing each step with the point of my axe first be­fore com­mit­ting my full weight. After 40 min­utes of nerve-rack­ing progress I reached the mo­raine on the far side.

Above me there was a 30 de­gree snow slope that had to be climbed to gain the sum­mit ridge.

Reach­ing the ridge was a re­lief. But this was quickly shat­tered when I looked along the route. The ridge was steep, ex­posed and airy. Mov­ing along the ridge meant ne­go­ti­at­ing short rock steps and del­i­cately thin ice ledges which slipped off into the void be­neath.

Con­cen­tra­tion was now the name of the game and it needed to be main­tained for the two hours it took to sum­mit.

On reach­ing the sum­mit, I knew I was stand­ing on a gi­ant. I was sur­rounded by the greats. The Zan­skar Range, the Great Hi­malayan Range and the Karako­ram Range in the far north. All just hang­ing out. And I was part of it. Part of the still­ness and part of the vast­ness.

The thin air gave a clear def­i­ni­tion to even the fur­thest peaks and all that could be done was to stand and stare. I was on

“On reach­ing the sum­mit, I knew I was stand­ing on a gi­ant. I was sur­rounded by the greats. And I was part of it.”

top of my Ever­est, my K2, the high­est I would ever climb, and I was con­tent with that. After a few min­utes I came back to re­al­ity, read­justed my think­ing and re­minded my­self that at 6,120m I was at ex­treme al­ti­tude and I needed to get down.

Re­turn­ing back down the ridge, the nar­row ice ledges pointed down at an an­gle that didn’t seem as se­vere on the way up. There were mo­ments when I would have liked to have had the con­fi­dence of a rope but I ig­nored those thoughts and I kept mov­ing slowly.

I reached the glacier cross­ing at 8.30 a.m. At this point I was too ex­hausted to care about its dan­gers and I ploughed straight across it, ca­su­ally stop­ping to drink some melt wa­ter on the way. I reached base camp by 10 a.m. where I flaked out in the tea-tent and didn’t move much fur­ther for the rest of the day. I post­poned the walk-out un­til the fol­low­ing day. After all, I was on hol­i­days.

Back in Leh, a cer­e­mo­ni­ous re­turn­ing of my rented plas­tics, cram­pons and ice axe marked the re­turn to my life as a back­packer. I had three weeks left, so as per pro­to­col, I had a cup of chai tea and I flicked open The Rough Guide.

Sean on his way to the sum­mit of Stok Kan­gri. IN­SET: Sean Cryan.

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