Practice can only go so far, in the end you must put yourself on to the stage to discover the reality of where you stand in the endeavor you have worked so long and hard to realize.
This was our dress rehearsal. Waking early, we moved in the early morning light into the theater of ice known as the Khumbu Falls. Two heavy days of snow deterred others from entering and so we laid first tracks in the snow which blanketed the ground and buffered our movements in a heightened silence.
Through a foggy mist, we slowly worked through the initial ladders and fixed lines. Crampons kicking into ice and hands gripping ascenders and rope – patiently we progressed. The ice falls embodied the full spectrum of glacial blues and seemed formed in abstraction.
The awe inspiring design of the ice though can lull you momentarily into forgetting the formidable nature and danger of it. Two of us stood as we began to descend only to heard a boom and feel a drop beneath us – driving home that the Khumbu Falls are alive and we are but guests within it. A Venus flytrap, it opens to us and yet at its discretion can also end us.
With gratitude we one by one exited safely the Falls, as a rainbow ringed the ridge line overhead. Confidence increased for our return, but also great reverence and respect for our next time entering upon this stage.