I was just a few hours shy of the Earth’s summit and feeling deceptively strong. My blood was turning to sludge; my brain and lungs were slowly swelling as my heart pounded against my chest. I was dying, but I felt inspired. Optimistic even. I was three hundred metres into the Death Zone, yet still hours away from my goal.
There’s an image that’s been seared into my mind for a few years now. It’s the face of a man I barely knew but considered a friend nonetheless. I can still see him in the night when I close my eyes. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t scream. He just looks at me from beneath a layer of frost-covered flesh. When he visits me, I don’t sleep. He remains as I left him, seated near the top of the world, trapped in the Death Zone.
At The Walrus, read an excerpt from The Escapist: Cheating Death on the World’s Highest Mountain, by Gabriel Filippi with Brett Popplewell.