If you like intrigue, I would be posting a tale written by me, in parts. Your feedback while reading it is most welcome.
David Johnson had enough experience as a climber with as many as forty expeditions to his credit. As part of their preparation to climb peaks such as Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, Lhotse and more importantly Mount Everest, he had taken many budding climbers to Mustagata summit. Located in the Pamir mountain range of Xinjiang Province, China, Mustagata served as a trial run for would-be mountaineers. With intimate knowledge of Chinese officials who regulate the permit system, liaison officers, sherpas and cooks and as many as seven successful Mustagata programs, David had gained trust of many climbing enthusiasts around the world. Each year during July, when the mountain wasn’t too melted and the route was relatively pristine, he would lead a group of mountaineers up this summit. The group consisted nine climbers. Among the team were Luke, a Scandinavian, Peter and his wife Amanda from UK, Brian, a young lad who hadn’t yet been on any expedition, Suzanne, better known as Suzy, both from Canada and Chen Cheng, an enthusiast, who hailed from Kashgar. In fact he had been accompanying David for the last three treks up the Mustagata summit......................................
Leaving Kashgar, a city at the base of mount Pamir, they boarded a bus that would take them to Karakul Lake. During the height of the Silk Road, Kashgar was a safe haven for travelers coming from both directions. It was a place to rest, replenish and prepare for the next difficult stretches which were either going over the mountains or across the desert. When the group left base camp the next day, the sky was deep blue with light clouds hovering above. But as they began to ski their way up the mountain, the skies turned pale white with no trace of clouds. Barely talking to each other, the group walked in line. They were roped together and looked like ants in the vast terrain. Staring in to a colorless void can play tricks on your mind and so it did, especially on Amanda, as fear and exhilaration gripped her. But Peter, her husband urged her to be calm. Ironically, the only thing that kept them awake to reality was the cold wind and Spin drift. Everyone was bundled up in their thick down jackets, warm mittens, goggles and face-masks. Even so, Brian had minor frostbite on some of his fingers. Suzy and others quickly went up to him and helped him stay calm. David examined the damage and reassured that it hadn’t reached the tissues. Suzy applied some Aloe Vera ointment and covered the injured area gently with dry sterile gauze and insulating layers. She also fed him some chocolate, dropping another in his pocket. Brian thanked her for her kind gesture. She smiled. Along the Karakorum highway, they unloaded the equipment and camped next to the lake. This was their acclimatization camp during which they took brief walks and went through some orientation and safety procedures. They also talked to each other for long hours, thus getting to know about the fellow climbers a little more. After this day and a half of initial phase, they embarked upon their journey further. Reaching base camp at about four thousand meters late in the day, they rested. Luckily for them, the earlier group had jabbed wands on their way up, which guided them along the way. Whoever said that this seven thousand five hundred meter peak was one of the easiest to climb must have been airlifted to the top, Brian thought. Knowing he was on his first expedition, David was extra cautious about Brian. They walked for an hour and half, stopping three times in between, to check that everyone was doing fine. As the team turned a corner, David saw it coming. (to continue)