The long road to Cullaville

Stories from my travels to every country in the world

Chapter 5
Hotel California
[China, 2007]


After a while, when I stop to take a picture, I hear a sound followed by a splash. Diagonally behind me, I see a small pond with rippling water in which a grey mass comes to the surface. Wait a second. I'm walking here on the trail that eventually leads to the top of Everest. Right? I peer around me and take a closer look underneath the rubble. I’m walking on ice.

Then the truth shoots through my head like a bolt of lightning. I’m walking in the middle of Rongbuk Glacier, which comes down from the north side of Everest. I hear more ominous sounds and I realise I have to get out of here as soon as I can, but also that I have to do it as carefully as possible. It’s high time to focus on where I’m walking, instead of looking at the top of that giant a few thousand metres above me all the time. Step by step, I try to walk perpendicular to the ice mass to the east side. I want to have solid ground under my feet. I slither over ice and walk past semi-frozen lakes with light blue ice in them, holding on to rocks here and there which I hope are stuck. There is no direct route, I’m walking where perhaps no one has ever been on regular hiking shoes and my knees seem to get more and more elastic. Finally, I jump from the last bit of ice onto the dark grey stones on the side of the moraine. I almost fall to the rocky ground to kiss it, but now I start to shake. For a moment, I give in to my emotions, but then I admonish myself: I have to go on, I want to continue. Up, up, higher up!