A couple of clouds are appearing nonetheless, but that’s just the natural convection that forms every day. The view looking up the ridge is majestic. It looks as if there isn’t much of a difference in altitude to the summit anymore, but more of a horizontal distance. I’m waiting a little longer, probably about 40 minutes, once we reach the Hillary Step. I start to shiver. The actual temperature is probably not very low, maybe -20 C (-4 F), but I shiver nonetheless. I’m happy when we finally continue on. I’m almost a little disappointed by the Hillary Step. I imagined it to be more impressive. And it’s not very steep either.

Now I feel like everyone else is moving very fast and I can hardly follow. Damnit, it can’t be true. I cannot be more tired than the others. Now I have to fight a little. I tell myself that it’s just a matter of willpower up to the peak now. And I have decided that I’m reaching the summit this time! Tenji can’t be seen behind us yet, but I’m sure he is on his way up.

I concentrate on every step. Sometimes I have to stop after four steps, but every step is one step closer to the summit. Where is the summit? I can’t see anything anymore. I’m completely concentrating on myself after I accepted that the others are moving along at a faster pace. As long as I can keep up with the oxygen-fueled mountaineers, I’m in a good spot. I can concentrate well, too, and am able to take in my surroundings. I can think clearly and make decisions. I check my form and my climbing is still controlled. It has to be the altitude that doesn’t allow me anymore strength. I don’t feel exhausted either, just slow, very, very slow. Just a few more steps up to the ridge. Finally I can see the summit at almost the same height on my left – a ball of prayer flags. A few of the Sherpas are already up there. The fixed rope has ended, now there are only a few traverses. One of the Chileans behind me loosens my ski pole that I had  tied to my backpack before the Hillary Step and hands it to me. I continue walking with the pole, now hold a tool in my hand once again.

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