Our first night at Island Peak base camp, Oct. 22, was crystal clear and the Himalayan night sky was a planetarium of stars. A half-moon whitewashed the amphitheatre of mountains that surrounded our camp with light, as the team slept snuggly in their yellow North Face cocoons.
Each tent looked like it had been scattered with icy glitter. As I headed back to my tent, I could hear the mountains crack as they froze and the hollow ting, ting of Yak bells. The soft glow from inside a solitary tent, with the moonlit mountains behind, looked like the front cover of a National Geographic magazine.
It's hard not to wax lyrical in such stunning surroundings.
All the while, Island Peak stood silent, dark and formidable in the background.
But that was yesterday and today the expedition is gearing up, quite literally for the off. The dinning tent looks like Mission Control, as our film crew and soldiers polish and charge everything ready for the climb.
"Today, Oct. 23 is a rest day," Craig Tourangeau tells me, "giving the team time to organize their gear and one final day to rest and acclimatisation before our summit push. Tomorrow afternoon we're moving up to High Camp and the following morning, Oct. 25th, we're stepping off for the summit!
"The soldiers are all psyched and pumped, especially now that we've have just heard that our donor team have made it successfully to the summit! Morale is high and we all just want to get going. We're at the bottom here and we can see the prize!"
And what a prize! After months of preparation by all of the team members of the March to the Top expedition, these soldiers are deserving of every 6,189 metres that they'll have worked so hard to climb!
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