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Chapter 16 Chapter 13 Avalanche

Everest Epic 佛蘭西斯.楊赫斯本 4463Words 2023-02-05
Another great feat of mountaineering has been achieved, another record has been written, but Everest has not been conquered. That is the brutal fact that must now be faced.Everest had not yet been conquered, and the expedition was almost exhausted, with no resources reserved for use.The best mountaineers do their best, and it's almost impossible to climb Everest twice in the same season.Yet the climbers aren't even ready to accept setbacks.They will keep trying until they are actually on their way home.That's the mindset they have as they lie recuperating in base camp. Somerwell is in the best form on the team.Malory suffered from mild frostbite and a slightly affected heart.Norton suffered frostbite and a weakened heart.Mosshead was in constant pain from frostbite and was in danger of losing his fingers.Of course, the latter two must be sent back to Sikkim as soon as possible without any delay.When Finch and Geoffrey.The two of Bruce arrived at the base camp, the latter's feet had been severely frostbited and could not walk.Finch himself was exhausted, but not frostbitten, and his heart was completely intact.At the end of May, the overall condition of the climbers is not very hopeful for another attempt.Strutt was exhausted; Longstaff was not as good as before, and neither Wakefield nor Croft had yet adapted to the effects of the high altitude.

But before the rainy season begins, if a few of these men recover, there may be a chance to try again.Strutt, Mosshead, Geoffrey.Bruce, Norton and Longstaff must be returned to Sikkim immediately.There was only one chance, and that was: if Malory's heart improved and Finch's strength returned. On June 3rd, Malory's medical examination was in good condition, and the expedition immediately decided to arrange a third attempt, but General Bruce warned all concerned that the monsoon rain season was approaching, and they would risk encountering it.Malory, Somerwell, and Finch would form the climbing team; Wakefield and Croft would support the climbers in the 3rd Battalion.There are enough challenges to help both groups.On June 3, the mountaineering team arrived at the first camp, but Finch's physical condition was obviously not suitable for continuing to go up, so the next day he returned to join Longstaff's injured team and went to Sikkim.He really did his best and no one expected more from him.On June 4, ominous signs of seasonal rain appeared.The snow was falling so hard that the climbing team had to stay put.Knowing that the seasonal rains had begun, and realizing that further attempts were impossible, they should have turned back.But the seasonal rains don't have a very certain onset date in that region.After the heavy snow falls, it will stop for a while, and it will suddenly clear up.Malory was counting on such a brief period of sunshine.He writes: They don't run headlong into obvious dangers, but rather than be held back by general forecasts, they'd rather wait until a danger they're not prepared to take actually arises, or when it's impossible to overcome the odds of going up the mountain. Only willing to give up.

The day after they reached the 1st Battalion it snowed all night, but on the morning of June 5 the weather improved and they decided to continue their ascent.They were surprised to find that the snow changed the shape of the glacier slightly.Most of it has melted or evaporated and is only six inches deep.They passed the second battalion and went straight to the third battalion.Here the snow was much deeper, and the whole scene, including the clouds hanging low over the mountains, was gloomy and forlorn.What's more, here the tents, which had been removed to save poles, were now half full of ice and snow; the supplies buried under the snow had to be dug out.

Is it still possible to continue going up in this situation?Did they really have any hope of reaching the summit, or climbing higher than they had previously achieved?On that night, the answer seemed fraught with doubts.But the weather cleared up the next morning, and soon the skies were bright and sunny again; hopes were raised again, especially since the snow had been blowing down the northeast ridge, which would soon be climbable. Now, they place their faith in oxygen.It would be impossible for them to establish a second camp on the North Col.And without a second camp, they knew they couldn't climb to the heights they had previously reached without outside help.But oxygen will do its magic.Somerwell had learned the details of the oxygen cylinder mechanism from Finch, so being able to operate it he was sure of it.The mountaineers who had used oxygen were so convinced of its efficacy that so were Malory and Somerwell.They are interested in benefiting from Finch's experience.They also tried again to make a camp at 26,000 feet.Also, they don't plan to start using oxygen until they reach 25,000 feet.

However, the wall of ice on the upper North Col had to be dealt with first.They didn't expect to reach the North Col in a day because there was so much fresh snow falling on it.But they could immediately go up some distance with some bundles, for they had to make the most of the still good daylight.So, on the same day, June 7th, they started the work. They set off at eight o'clock in the morning.Although the ground was frozen at night, the hard shell couldn't bear their weight very much, so they sank almost every step they took until they reached their knees.They expected an avalanche, but there was only one place where they feared it would happen, and that was the last two hundred feet of steep slope below the ledge of the cliff on which the 4th Battalion stood.Here they had to proceed carefully, testing the snow before crossing the slope.As for the rest of the way, they thought that there would be no danger.

Wakefield was left behind in the 3rd Battalion as a support officer, and now the party to the North Col consisted of Malory, Somerwell, Croft, and fourteen provocateurs.The three climbers didn't have to carry packs, so of course they had to open the way ahead, stepping out a path on the steep and snow-covered ice slope for the bearers to walk on.The snow froze so firmly on the ice that you could walk up it directly without digging steps.They did everything they could to dig up the snow to attract it to avalanche, but it didn't budge.After walking through this dangerous slope, the group of them moved forward without hesitation.They believe that if the snow doesn't fall down on that slope, it won't fall on the gentler slope either.There is no danger of an avalanche.

So they pushed their way up, through the deep snow; such exhausting work that they had to stop and take several breaths for every step they moved up, until they shifted their weight to the other foot.Fortunately it was a clear and calm day, and by one thirty they were four hundred feet below a notable mass of ice, six hundred feet below the North Col, still on the gentle slope of that corridor.Here they rested for some time until the pickers climbed up by three separate ropes.Then the whole group moved on, cautiously but without thinking of danger. They had only advanced a hundred meters, and the party led by Somerwell had climbed the top of the slope but had not yet passed it.When the last group of provocateurs had just caught up with Somerwell, everyone was suddenly startled by a loud noise.An ominous, sharp, and violent sound came like thunder, but the sound sounded a little soft, like the sound of unencapsulated gunpowder exploding.Malory had never heard such a sound before, but he knew immediately and instinctively what it was.He watched helplessly as the snow cracked and wrinkled under his feet, and then he moved slowly down a slope pushed by an irresistible force.He managed to get away from the slope so as not to be pushed down the slope.For a second or two, he slid quietly with the snow, seemingly in no danger.Then the rope around his waist tightened, grabbing him.At this moment, snow fell on top of him, burying him.It looked like he was done.But he remembered: In this case, the best chance of escape lay in swimming.So he dug his hands into the snow above his head and lay in constant swimming motions with his hands.Then he felt the speed of the avalanche slow, and finally stop completely.His arms are free, and his legs are close to the surface.After another brief struggle, he stood up and stepped on the still snow, still panting and startled.

But the rope was still tied around his waist; he imagined that the picker tied not far from him must be buried deep in the snow.To Malory's surprise, the provocateur emerged from the snow unharmed.Soon, Somerwell and Croft also rescued themselves.Their experience must have been very similar to Malory's. So far so good.They could see a group of four provocateurs a hundred and fifty feet down.Maybe everyone else is safe too.But these four people kept pointing downwards, obviously other provocateurs were taken to a lower place.Malory and his companions hurried over, and soon discovered that there was a terrible drop below the place where the four provocateurs stood: a forty-foot high cliff of ice and snow.Those who disappeared must have been swept down.The climbers immediately found a way to detour, and then their worst fears were confirmed.One man was immediately exhumed, still alive, and regained his sanity.Another picker carrying four oxygen cylinders on a steel frame was lying head down when he was dug out, but he was still breathing after being buried for about 40 minutes.He also recovered and was able to walk back to the 3rd Battalion.But the remaining seven were all killed.

Thus, the third attempt ended in tragedy.Obviously the team shouldn't have ventured up the slopes up to the North Col.But saying that is hindsight wise.All indications were that the situation was safe, and that Malory and Somerwell were experienced and alert mountaineers.It may be admitted that they are racing against time, but they are not people who will take unnecessary risks, let alone sacrifice poor burdensome people for unnecessary risks.For these provocations, they do have the greatest respect and the most sincere affection. The British members of the expedition feel deep sympathy for the provocateurs who lost their lives after faithfully playing their part in this great expedition.General Bruce described in his report how this event had repercussions among the relatives, friends, and those around the deceased.Those passages, showing the attitude of the local people to such accidents, are of special value.

After receiving the news, he informed the great lama of Rongbuk Monastery; the great lama was very sympathetic and compassionate to the whole incident.Many monasteries held Buddhist ceremonies for the deceased and their families.All prostitutes, especially those relatives of the deceased, were personally received by the Grand Lama of Rongbuk Monastery and given special blessings.Later, General Bruce also received a letter of condolence from his friend, the King of Nepal.His Majesty wrote: This reminds me: a long time ago, at the time of our mutual friend ManesIn the days of Colonel Manners Smith, you brought to our Parliament the question of whether to grant permission to travel to Nepal for the project of climbing the king of mountains.Only then did I know that there is a mysterious belief among the local people: the high places on the mountain are the residences of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The people invite disaster.This belief, or superstition, what do you call it, is so steadfast that they attribute this tragic event to the wrath of the gods, which they would not in any way want to offend.

Note ① Shiva: One of the three main gods of India, in charge of destruction; the other two are Brahma and Vishnu, representing the creation and guardianship of the universe respectively.Goddess Parvati (Parvati): The Hindu goddess of snow mountains, the wife of Lord Shiva, and one of the incarnations of Goddess David (Devi).Goddess David is the mother of all things, representing both the power of creation and destruction. Like the three main gods of Hinduism, Goddess David has many incarnations. In addition to Parvati, she also includes: the gentle goddess of auspiciousness (Lakshmi), The fierce Kali, the goddess of learning Sarasvati, the goddess of war Durga, etc.These goddesses are revered by Hindus with different images and divine powers.Editor's note This is how Tibet, on the north side of Mount Everest, and Nepal, on the south side of Mount Everest, view the disaster.Bruce speaks of the Tibetans as a curious mixture of superstition and common sense.Apparently he would say the same about the Nepalese. He further said: The Nepalese tribes and Bhutanese Sherpas living on the high mountains have a belief that when a person falls off a cliff and dies, he becomes a sacrifice dedicated to the gods, especially the mountain god at the scene of the accident.They also believe that anyone who happens to be in the same place on the date and time when someone else's mountain disaster occurs will also die in the next day. However, despite the disaster and the prevalence of these superstitions among the people, the challengers who survived the expedition were soon able to take a lighter view of things again.They just hold the idea that those people's hour has come.If the time has not come, they will not die.There is nothing more to say.That is their belief in destiny.And they're more than ready to join another Everest expedition.If they were destined to die on Everest, they would die there; if not, it wouldn't happen.That was the end of the matter. Therefore, the mountain calamity never discouraged these provocateurs and others.All of them are still ready to move forward for the next adventure, as always. However, those climbers themselves are very concerned about this mountain disaster.They felt that was a great disgrace to them as mountaineers.But if that was a disgrace, Malory and Somerwell erased it two years later in the same spot, as we hear it now.
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