The team are currently making the 30km trek back down the mountain. With significant damage to some of the prosthetic limbs and carrying a few injuries, the team are planning on using mules to get some of the kit, and maybe some of the team, back down. Whilst they move closer towards the end of the journey, we have this account from Matt on his recent experiences including his courageous effort on the descent despite being in considerable pain.
By Matt Nyman
On summit day we woke up at 0300 with a plan of departing at 0400, though we didn't start until 04:15. The temperature was below zero. I still had a headache, though it wasn't too bad. As we began our climb, all I could think of was I hoped Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) wouldn't keep me from the summit.
As we climbed our team split into the usual two groups, I was up with the lead group. It was surprisingly cold, and as winds built up, the temperature just got colder and colder. We had made very good time, climbing roughly 500 meters in elevation in only 2 1/2 hours or so. At this point, we got to the point where we would be the most exposed to the wind, and some were already struggling with the cold.
When we reached the ridge that would lead us to the summit, it exposed us to strong and bitingly cold winds. The guides then huddled and made the decision that we would turn around as the wind conditions would be even worse on the summit. We would not only risk frostbite, but the very real possibility of being blown off the mountain.
I was heartbroken that we wouldn't summit, especially because I felt so strong. The group took a few quick photos and then began the decent down. I took the opportunity to stay on that ridge for a minute and just enjoy what I'd spent the last 9 days working for. Then, after a minute, I began my decent back to Camp 3.
For me, descending a mountain is really hard on both my prosthetic and the foot I have, as it takes a harsh beating, making me very slow going down. It took us roughly an hour to get back to Camp 3. We decided to take an hour to rest and would then descend to Base Camp, making our total descent 2,200 meters in elevation, the part I hate and dread most about climbs. Our guide estimated that it would take 3 hours to get to Base Camp, which for most it did. For me, it took nearly 6 hours, of which the whole time I regarded as miserable; going down the mountain with a 50lbs backpack and in constant pain.
I finally got into Camp 3 hours after most and was beat. My stump had bad bruising and my foot hurt like heck. After dropping off my stuff, I went to the food tent and had a beer with everyone and ate some food. Meanwhile the weather conditions were checked to see if there was any possible opening to make a bid for the summit with the time we had remaining, which there wasn't. That was the final nail in the coffin that we would not summit this mountain on this trip, which was a hard pill to swallow.