"The hail turned to snow, and we were surrounded by mist, which reduced visibility to five yards. Gray shadows loomed up from time to time as ghostly figures went their headlong way down towards camp. Avalanches of fresh snow fell continually, with a frightful din. The inferno receded. But for this episode would always remain a nightmare" (34). Who needs a camera when you can recount images like this? I could picture myself as Herzog, one of the members of the anchoring crew, amid the conditions -- concerned yet confident looking down upon other members of the expedition as they retreat back to base camp.
These are the moments when being with a larger group must not make a difference. When your visibility is down less than five yards, you cannot see much of anybody else or anything else for that matter and all you can hear is the eerie silence the snow creates and the occasional rumbling of a distant avalanche. This is when the mind is overwhelmed with thoughts. What if that avalanche swallowed up one of my climbers? What if this snow under me gives way? Where is everybody else? Am I following the right path? It is moments like these when nobody is there to relieve the overwhelming concerns the torture of isolation can create while you’re battling Mother Nature. The two most important tools come into play: common sense and self-reliance. Common sense will aid you with decision-making and self-reliance will give you confidence. No matter how far your visibility or how stable the surface beneath you, if you can maintain a degree of both you can reach your goal whether it is attacking those next 1,000 feet to the peak or back down to base camp.