The climb was great! My girlfriend only made it to Camp Muir. Both Martin and I advised her that it was in her best interest to sit out the summit and she did with great dignity. Her time at the Camp Muir shelter was well spent hearing climbing stories, etc. In the mean time, Martin and I organized a 4-man rope team that proved to be strong and fast. Justin, a stuntman from Hollywood, and his friend Brandon joined us for our 1:30 AM departure for the summit on Memorial Day. From the get go everyone knew their stuff. Team synergy was alive and the climbing was the best I have done in a long while. Martin did and excellent job as the lead pushing a good pace that pushed us beyond all other headlamps in the candle light procession to the summit. The Ingraham Direct was more challenging in my opinion than the DC. The crevasse danger was definitely more noticeable. After gaining the upper summit cone, our pace continued. Martin suffered from a small amount of AMS that was mainly attributed to dehydration due to our drinking fluids freezing! He toughed it up and pushed it to the summit. Being #2 on the rope I held the pace and stopped occasionally for a breather. Justin and Brandon were strong all the way to the top as well. We passed a Russian team early in the climb and found ourselves at the summit around 7 AM with a brisk wind and cloud cover shrouding us. Justin filmed us and we headed back down. On the way down, I broke through and slipped on an exposed ice bridge overhanging a crevasse. I remember hearing my Gore-tex pants sliding on the ice and next I was flying through the air. Luckily for me, Martin (now #4 on the way down) and Justin (#2) caught my fall. I barely hit a snow bridge below me and was hanging upside down until I ditched my pack. I yelled and yelled for my team to give me slack as I could climb out but they couldn't hear me because of the wind. The fall shook me pretty bad. I tried prussiking out but the "V" shape of the rope made it impossible. The overhang also made it a challenge, as I would not be able to pull my self over unless it was notch out where the rope cheese-lined into the ice. Eventually Justin rappelled down beside me to assess my condition. Trying to heighten my mood as well as the teams, I commented that I probably wouldn’t be able to have children again due to the fall! I ended up getting lowered on to the A-frame shaped snow bridge over the crevasse I was looking into. I sat there for a moment and thanked God for my safety. I drank some slush that was frozen Gatorade and put my back pack on. I tiptoed the snow bridge to the main glacier and rappelled down the fixed line to the switchback where the rest of the team met me. I have climbed since I was 12 years old and never did I think I could have fallen, etc. It was a wake up call and something I am glad I went through. Climbing is a passion of mine but at the same time I realize the limitations and unforeseens at hand. I could have died and due to the competency of Martin, Justin and Brandon, I stayed alive. If my girlfriend were on the rope she too would have probably been pulled off the ledge. All of us held a high level of skill but we pulled together in a time of stress and rescue. I stayed calm and they held their will. I owe my life to that team and I would climb with them any day and do the same for them. We eventually returned to Muir with a slower pace and then to Paradise. The climb itself was awesome. I have never felt so strong in my life. The pace was great and the summit was in our team's reach. Everyone was competent in his abilities including myself but the unexpected did occur, as was the case on my decent. It was the perfect climbing adventure where talent and smarts mixed with pure physical power in a climbing synergy. For all those out there that think the summit is what matters most...believe me...it’s not the summit...it’s the experience that matters. Creating bonds with people like Martin who helped save my life is way more important than any summit. A climber knows whether or not they can make a summit. As for me I knew I could do it. I did it once and I could do it again. I am a strong climber that rarely gives up a climb. On other hand being a strong climber doesn't guarantee one the summit or the avoiding of death or injury. Let my climb serve as an example to all that sometimes you aren't in control like you think you are. Thank you Martin, Justin and Brandon for an awesome climb and for saving my life. I would rope up with you guys anytime you want to climb!
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