Rock-climbing isn’t something I’m great at, and it’s exactly what days three and four were dedicated to.
On my third day here at Bezengi we took a two-hour walk up the moraine towards a mountain, the name of which our instructor didn’t know, that had a nice rock face to climb on. We worked with fixed ropes quite a lot, using jumars to ascend up the near-vertical wall and figure-eight’s to rappel. Given that the group is rather large and the ropes were two, we spent the whole day at the site, returning to camp at around 7 pm, just in time for dinner. The wonderful dining hall ladies, who always shake their heads at my pallor in severe disapproval, tried to put more food in front of me than they did before the military at the next table. Grateful as I was, I couldn’t eat much, since the combined effects of altitude and physical exhaustion always suppress my appetite.
The morning of day four, too, was spent in practice on a rock face near the camp. However, we didn’t have much time to spare as we needed to prepare for our five-day mini-expedition to a peak called Gidan. Arrangements for food and gear had to be made and discussed, and the weight evenly divided amongst the members of the group. It is always a long process, involving anger at having to carry all the group carabiners, ice-screws and/or rice, bargaining, denial, depression and, inevitably, acceptance: my backpack, for instance, weighs about 23kg – as the group’s slowest member, I get to carry ‘very little’ up the mountain.
We are leaving this morning, in about an hour, and, fortunately for my readers, I haven’t got time to write about the past couple of days in any more detail. I hope to be back here, in front of my laptop, with more interesting stories and pictures to share.