It was now half way through our second day on the wall and so far it had felt like we were moving so slowly. It probably had something to do with the 2 large cows filled with water and food that we were dragging up behind us. We had with us water for about 10 days, thinking that surely at some point even though we didn´t like to think that it may snow on us, there would probably be some around that we could melt for water. Ironically we needn´t have taken more than about 10 litres, there was that much snow about and the 60 litres we did take became unmeltable blocks of ice that were about as useful as a 1985 edition of the yellow pages.
Jake was now on the sharp end and was dealing with a pitch that had obviously recieved a disconcerting amount of rockfall this season. The rock was unlike the granite we were used to, cams just wouldn´t fit, it was all shattered and the cracks were just these thin little lines between a jigsaw of of loose blocks. He was glad to have done his time at araps fiddling little wires into intricate placements.
After gracefully man-handling the cows up another double pitch haul, we set up the ledge in what felt like the firing line of all the rockfall that had hammered the previous pitch, not a decision we made lightly but it was kind of unavoidable given the time of day. We scuttled up the next pitch before dark and got our first taste of climbing ice, actually it was more a taste of avoiding the stuff than anything.
It had been 2 glorious days of weather, the best we´d had the whole trip however the next day was to set the scene a little more accuratly for the rest of the route. We awoke to a really cold snowy morning, the wind was giving the portaledge a good rocking too. Nothing could be done, we took pride in the patiance we had at taking the day of bad weather in our stride. We drank tea and started to read the the book that Steve had assured us was ´a pageturner´. The next morning came with much the same weather as the last but the patiance seemed spent. After some lunch the battle gear was on and we were headed for our high point a pitch above the portaledge. Sadly the beautiful looking series of flakes and overlaps was encased in ice. I had to proceed upwards with the grotesque method known as aiding(no offense meant to those of you out there who enjoy the stuff, I probably just lack the mental fortitude...or something) As it would happen, my overly optimistic self left the few pieces of aid gear we had with us namely the sky hooks in the haul bags, sure that the wall was now steep enough to not see too much ice. This lead to a bit of inginuity that I´m sure you aiders would get excited over. The nut tool was brought into use as a make-do hook for a couple of moves. I was quite impressed that it held up to the task actually.
(Nut tool hooking!)
By the time I´d reached the end of the pitch Jake was only able to communicate in grunts between fits of shivering, this seemed like a good time to call it a day and we rapped back to the ledge hoping for better weather tomorrow.