Day 10 – 大峰 (Da Feng) Summit, 5038m.
Unlike most days, we started the day at 0200 hours, when the many restless souls of the team started stirring from their light sleep. Waking up to a symphony of sound, with the snores trumpeting loudly in the shack, the percussion of the rustling of backpacks was deafening. I could hardly believe that I was ready for the ensuing battle with the mountain. Dressing up and walking out of the hut, I could distinctly feel the cold wind caressing my cracked lips, the bright moonlight arousing my senses. I was awake.
Breakfast was served in the unlit shack a slight walk away from our own, with only our headlamps revealing the mystery as to what we are eating. Breakfast was an unexpectedly well tasting meal made from last night’s leftovers. We quickly ate our fill, while the guide filled our flasks with freshly boiled water. After breakfast, we took our backpacks which were filled with the bare necessities – warm clothing just in case – and headed off into the darkness, for the final assault on the summit, all 8 of us.
With the moonlight paving the way before us, we started our climb, meeting unexpected obstacles along the way. Slippery ice appeared along the way, proving a challenge to avoid due to restricted visibility. The thin air up there was not helping too. Then came the steep rocky path with loose rocks here and there. You really could not trust what you were stepping on. One moment the rocks were stable, the next moment it was sliding downwards. As we soldiered on, slowly there were some of us who were straggling behind; hence the guides had to follow them. The lack of light definitely took a psychological toll on us all, slowly sapping out our spirits. Then came the dreaded news, one of us had to turn back due to acclimatisation issues, and if any of us were to turn back, all of us had to turn back together. Determined to summit, we carried on.
With help from our guide, we quickly made it to the shoulder of the mountain, where dawn was just about to break. We took a slight break there to get ready for the final push up to the summit. We had the heavens to thank for the beautiful weather. It was a perfect summit day! We reached a snowfield just before the summit and treaded carefully, hoping to step on hard snow and not sink into the soft snow. Finally, the summit was in sight, all we had to do now was just approach with no mistakes and we would have reached our first peak that was above 5000m.
Success! 6 of us arrived at the summit, while we heard news that a slower teammate was still on her way up. The hard decision had to be made; we could not wait for her at the summit with the cold gusts of wind bellowing into our frozen faces. The view from the summit was awe inspiring. It was a humbling experience. The panoramic view: no photo could do it justice. The sea of clouds in the distance was visible under the care of the morning sun. We took a few quick commemorative photos at the summit and hurried off the exposed summit, away from the wind. This feeling of achievement, mere words can only do it injustice. One has to experience it for themselves: the elation, exuberance, the euphoric feeling; these were indescribable.
From left to right: Karen, Daniel, Raymond, Javier, Yong Siang, Samuel. On the summit of 大峰 (Da Feng), 5038m
Yong Siang, with a breathtaking view of the mountain ranges in the background.
Karen, all wrapped up to shield herself from the relentless wind.
Panoramic view atop 大峰 (Da Feng), 5038m.
A triumphant Daniel raising his hand into the air!
On the way down, with our spirits brimming with the nectar of power, we stopped by the snowfield to take more photos, a lot more crazy photos, and proceeded on. Here are some of the crazy photos!
Karen, enjoying the snow with 小粘粘 (Little Sticky) beside her. Oh did we mention that 小粘粘 (Little Sticky) made it all the way up to 5038m? What an amazing dog!
A group photo!
Another group photo! Javier’s 2 fingers were blocking Raymond’s face hahaha.
Javier striking a pose!
What’s Yong Siang doing?
Future architects striking a symmetrical pose. It must be in their nature.
At the shoulder, we saw our teammate who was just making her way up, firmly pushing on. She wanted to reach the summit, but the guide convinced her that it was not a good idea, and told her to come down with all of us.
Us at the shoulder.
While coming down, I suddenly felt numbness in my right big toe, and felt that something was not right. I decided to hurry down, leaving the rest of the team to enjoy the slow climb down. Luckily I could see the path we took up clearly thanks to the now overhanging sun and the strong dog which followed us all the way up and guided me down. Reaching base camp, I could see Edwin, who followed our teammate who had to turn back, waiting for us. Finally, I felt that we had truly succeeded.
The route we came up from that was in total darkness 4 hours ago. It was quite hard to believe we walked through that.
Thankfully, Yiqian who turned out to be suffering from a bad case of Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS), was alright at base camp. We packed up, and ate a final meal at base camp before we departed back to the lodge at 日隆镇 (Ri Long Zhen). Despite the long journey back, our legs were boosted by our feelings, and we quickly made it back to 日隆镇 (Ri Long Zhen) before sunset.
On the way down to 日隆镇 (Ri Long Zhen).
Yiqian liked this picture a lot. 西游记? Journey to the West?
Get off that horse! It’s for the injured! (Just a joy ride)
四姑娘山 (Si Gu Niang Shan) in the background.