Our summit day begins before dawn, to give us ample time for the climb. Being several hours above base camp, starting from here considerably shortens the day and increases everyone’s chances of reaching the summit. This tactic has proved particularly effective and in the last two years, for example, every team member has reached the top. The nature of the climb from advance base camp depends on the snow cover. It is most likely that we do not need our crampons for the most part as we scramble over scree and boulders, which lead up to the south ridge. The 1,500 ft ridge that stretches up to the summit is exciting and superbly exposed, although never particularly steep and very straightforward. Most of the ridge is like a steep path, so ropes are not usually necessary, although some scrambling is required. At an altitude approaching 20,000 ft it is extremely tiring and anybody who needs a rope will be able to use one.
The summit is a superb reward for your effort, giving magnificent views in every direction. The city of Leh is so small that you can barely see it. After taking photographs and perhaps a bite to eat, we set off back down the hill. The route taken depends on the leader, but it is usually a reversal of the way we went up. Occasionally our groups have descended the South Face, in which case a small abseil is necessary near the top. On reaching the glacier, we return all the way back to base camp, our advance base camp having been dismantled by our camp staff. The evening meal is be accompanied by a wee dram to celebrate the occasion!