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11:23AM Singapore time.  I just received a very broken Thuruya satellite phone call from David.  They have reached a point high on the ridge at 6015m, which is a false summit of the Dragons tooth. A false summit is a term used in mountaineering to describe a peak that appears to be the pinnacle of the mountain but is in fact not.  From here  the ridge breaks up and it seems the guys may have made the decision to turn back.  The line cut off before I could get the full information from David, however he did say they were very tired.  There also seems to be some limited form of mobile phone coverage as I received the attached photograph from Rozani of David eating a GNC power gel high on the ridge.

Both David and Rozani are experienced climbers.  They will assess the situation and come to the a joint conclusion as team mates whether to proceed or retreat.  The decision to retreat when so close to their goal will be a difficult one.  They will take into account many factors such as:

–  The conditions.  Is there avalanche risk? bad weather closing in?  hard ice?  soft snow?

–  Technical difficulty of climbing the broken ground? They will also take into account the descent – descending the ridge will be more difficult than going up.

–  Strength:  How tired are they feeling? Do they have enough strength to continue to make the summit and then descend all the way to high camp safely? Are they cold?

–  Time:  How much time they have before darkness? They will want to find their way back to the high camp before darkness sets in.

As Ed Viesters said “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory”.

Whatever decision they make,  lets applaud their effort in getting so high and stepping where no human beings have ever stepped before.

Meanwhile I wait with baited breath for another update from the team – hopefully the next update will come from them back in there tents safely at high camp.


David Lim re-energises with some GNC power gels high on the unclimbed ridge of the Dragon’s tooth whilst contemplating the next move this morning. Photo: Mohd Rozani bin Maarof

2nd UPDATE   

12PM:  I received another phone call from David. This time the line was much clearer.   As I was updating his blog from the last phone message, I decided to keep what I had written and add onto it here.

David confirmed they were retreating from a high point on the false summit at just over 6000m.  They were feeling very tired after breaking trail for the previous 5 hours and the ridge was very deceiving.  What looked like a gentle line up the ridge to follow to the summit turned out to be a 45 degree heavily corniced ridge line.

(A cornice is an overhanging edge of snow on a ridge or the crest of a mountain. They form by wind blowing snow over the crest of the mountain, so they often form on the leeward sides of mountains. Cornices are extremely dangerous and travelling above or below them should be avoided. Source: Wikipedia)

The weather had also turned and was starting to close in.  David was cold and it sounded very windy so we did not talk for long.  They called from an elevation of 5770m.  They now have to retreat back down the ridge and back through some huge crevasses on the glacier to reach their high camp.  It should be easier route finding to reach their high camp in the daylight, than it was coming up in the darkness in the morning.

I hope to hear from David when they reach the high camp safely tonight.

All in all it sounds like a tremendous effort today by the team.Lets wish them a safe retreat.

Axe signing out on behalf of David Lim





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