22nd August 2017: Day before OTC summit push (Peng Mao Yu)
After several days of eating Koka instant noodles, today the team woke up earlier to cook Japanese Tonkatsu udon. I was thankful for the change of flavour and warm meal. Together with Team 1, we were exhausted after the summit push to Ong Siew May peak yesterday. Hence, it was heart-warming for the rest of the team to cook such a warm meal for us early in the morning.
We were running out of water fast and it will be harder to retrieve water as the days keep getting colder. After we had our hearty breakfast, team 1 (Jun Wen, Wesley, Victor, Mao) went to source for water. After arriving at a glacier hole, we first dig out and filter the ice and debris in the puddle and scooped up the clean glacier water and filled up our water rations. Our movements get faster as the coldness start to kick in from our bare hands. It was a fun experience. During the process, we noticed shadows of 4 figures in the distant landscape, we waved in excitement as this is the first contact after several days alone in the icy plateau. The team of 4 Russians visited our campsite as we greeted them warmly with hot milo. It was such an optimistic encounter.
Following that, we began our lectures on mountaineering equipment and weathering patterns. It was both interesting and serious at the same time. We did a quick observation of today’s weather and made a prediction for tomorrow which is an important date as we will be ascending Ong Teng Cheong peak. A beautiful halo hangs above our heads coupled with many stratus clouds indicated a high moisture with incoming uplift of grey sounds which will result in snow (in fact a blizzard the next day!).
We practiced the roping up process adopting a zig-zag formation as we simulate an ascend and descend of a steep snow-covered slope. I found the steps of switching directions while in a zig-zag formation tend to be rather confusing. Many involved turning and overstepping so perhaps, we could have practiced and learnt earlier prior to the trip. We also simulated belaying rescue methods with ropes and ice axes in times of emergency in the snow field. The weather also turned for the worse as the day sets in. The ever-merciless snow hindered our practice timing and we had to retreat to our campsite. To be honest, I was still a bit uncertain of all the steps. Thus, I should have paid more details to the demonstration by Edwin as I will be leading the second team up for tomorrows ascend to OTC peak.
Next, we prepared our ropes for the summit push later in the night in the mass tent. The snow slowly subsided as the evening approached. We had a quick dinner and drank lots of warm water, all ready for the final summit push. We turned in rather earlier than yesterday. The sky greeted us with a nice red-orange sunset indicating a possible good weather for the final summit push.