At one in the morning we left High Camp for our summit attempt and began hiking up an endlessly steep slope of snow and ice. Wading through the darkness we kept a slow but constant pace to stay warm in the -15c chill.
At points the route turned into a nearly vertical climb, or dropped off precariously at precipitous heights – ice axe and crampons certainly became a necessity. In the distance the city lights of El Alto illuminated the velvet darkness, and then the first rays of the sun could be seen far far away.
What does the world look like from above 6,000? The air is thin and the sun rises slowly; its colors separated and bent around the sphere of the earth. Finally, the sun peaks around and the temperature rapidly increases as noted by the sensational feeling of numbness returning with tingles into my long frozen toes. Looking out a blanket of clouds concealed the jaggedness below, but hints remained with protruding peaks in the distance.
Many thanks to my excellent climbing partner Pepe for his support and good humor.