My hands trembled with excitement and it took a laughable ten or so tries to get one contact in. Then Dave and I wolfed down a quick breakfast of cereal and hot powdered milk and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. The peanut butter was to fix any left-over hunger following our skimpy rations. With that, we reported to the Steve Sneider tent, where Christian readied himself.
Off we went. But why are we going so slowly? Didn't Christian know we could handle more? Not much later my breathing became labored and my thighs burned from our unyielding upward march into the Silencio Valley, and I came to appreciate our pace.
The stars still shown with stark intensity, but the wind had picked up, carrying fat snow-flakes. It was strange to see such bright stars through such snow. Christian stopped periodically to observe the heavens and express his doubts. I was sure the weather would be perfect. This was simply the chaos that precedes sunrise, I reasoned with myself.
The skies continued to deteriorate and pretty soon they were solid grey and the wind was forcing snow into every chink in our alpine armor…