Round the world with Gully News

Reader Anthony Myszka on the summit of Island Peak, Nepal (8km from Mount Everest).

For years readers of Gully News have been packing the newspaper in their baggage on trips around the world. They have sent us photos of themselves reading it in amazing places – many of which you can view here.

Earlier this year we published Anthony Myszka’s spectacular photo. We asked for more of the story about his ascent to the summit of Imja Tse (Island) Peak, 6189m, in Nepal’s
Himalayan Range. He sent us these extracts from his journal of the climb.

At the summit

Today, I aligned my dreams, pace, and strategy with ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’.

I was now doubled over, hands on knees, catching my frozen breath. This is hell. With the
moon still over my left shoulder surely, we couldn’t be far from Crampon Point? We started rock scrambling – good, I needed a new distraction from the physical effort. I was on a ridge with sheer drops on either side. My super-bright headtorch couldn’t make out the depth, but intuitively I felt very exposed. A thin shelf was negotiated with the aid of a weathered length of fixed rope. With this section done, I concentrated on the distant figures ahead of me.

Soon, rock scrambling gave way to heavily iced rock slabs – and so, we reached Crampon Point. I savoured this moment whilst attaching my crampons (a spiked device attached to the underside of each boot to aid traction over ice). Here, I entered an iced wonderland.
Eons-old stratified ice and metre long icicles hung from jagged cliff edges. A glance at a photo of my kids (Soph and Sam) attached to my high-altitude gauntlet gave me a much needed spur. Fresh snow has a tendency of absorbing reflected sound and so, explains why it’s eerily quiet here.

Imperceptible at first, stars reluctantly surrendered their sparkle to the approaching dawn. I roped up with Dawa Tenzing, mindful of keeping the rope taunt – there are bottomless snow bridges hidden in this crevassed wonderland … Past the crevasse field, the valley slopes upwards. The summit is now awash in sepia-tones by a sun slowly breaking over the horizon. And with it, the promise of warmth!

Finally, at the summit, the journal continues.

There’s an urgency to snap a few obligatory summit photos as the bone-numbing wind noticeably picks up. But I’m hypnotised by the endless carpet of jagged peaks stretched in all directions before me. Aside from wispy alto cirrus cloud, the sky at the horizon is a deep
sapphire blue then lightens to a copper sulphate blue at the sky’s zenith.

From my vantage point, glaciers are retreating. The evidence is clear.

The summit, no larger than a full-sized billiard table, induces vertigo as it falls steeply away on each side. Here, Base Camp is almost 1.2kms below my feet. I double check that my karabiner and abseiling descender are locked.

I steal one last look at this 360° magnificence.

I look at my photo of the kids and quietly hope Soph and Sam will be proud of their dad.

I’m floating – the Tortoise made it.

Anthony Myszka

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