A Close Encounter on Balakun in the Indian Himalaya
words by Daniela Teixeira and Paulo Roxo pic by Daniela Teixeira
Saturday – 21st September 2019 For the first time we had a view of the whole line – it was perfect. From the base to the summit, 1,800 metres of snow ramps, gullies, a crest leading to the summit, and it all looked to be in perfect condition. As we walked the last few hundred metres on the glacier, I took photographs of every little detail of the route; of the absolutely beautiful and most logical line that would take us to the highest little point of Balakun at 6,471 metres. The upper slopes were reminiscent of a white silk sheet – soft, pristine, untouched. The few peaks above looked calm and quiet . . . asleep, unthreatening. The mountain looked perfect, the line was just there, waiting for us, maybe for days, maybe for years. We were confident and calm, with the kind of feeling that one rarely has before climbing a mountain. No stress, no uncertainty, no doubt. I was sure the universe was conspiring in our favour. I was sure that in three days we would be standing on the top of that stunning mountain.
Sunday – 22nd September 2019 The familiar sound of the alarm clock woke us from our slumber half an hour after midnight. As predicted by the weather reports we were getting from our friend Vitor Baía, we could hear the sound of light snow tapping on the single layer of our tiny bivvy. Since visibility was poor, we decided to wait a few hours more. Deep and warm in our sleeping bags, we fell asleep again. Around 4 am, the silence announced the predicted weather change, the light snowfall had stopped, the sky was clear, and visibility was perfect.