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Cheating death

2 years ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


9 April 2022

It’s 1am. Two young men stand under an enormous wall of rock, snow and ice. It’s mid-summer but they are at an altitude of around 2100 metres, so it’s bitterly cold, though the air is mercifully still, and dead silent. One of them flakes their thin hemp rope out in careful coils onto the rotten snow of the lower lip of the yawning bergschrund, or crevasse, that marks the end of the snow slopes they’ve hiked up, and the start of the near-vertical rock cliffs looming above.

His companion ties an end of the rope into his simple waist-belt harness, and checks his climbing equipment one last time – not much more than a few soft-iron pitons and some rope slings. They don’t talk – nor do they need to. They’ve done this a thousand times before, on many other climbs. Finally, they cinch the straps on their heavy canvas rucksacks and snug their wooden-shafted ice-axes securely down between the packs and their shoulder blades.

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