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Himalaya

Day 21: Skardu to Concordia

Michael Palin - HimalayaThen all at once we're flying clear of the grey constraints of the canyons and out into crystal clear sunshine and over an ice plateau of staggering beauty, with razor-sharp peaks surrounding the confluence of the Baltoro and Godwin-Austen glaciers. A tricky landing. The crew are put off first, as they need to be on the ground to shoot me emerging. We pirouette up into the air and once again circle this astonishingly beautiful coming together of ice, snow and mighty mountain peaks. As they attempt the landing a second time no-one bothers to lower the steps, so I spill out of the plane with as much dignity as I can muster and run, fast and low, away from the rotors and towards the camera. My feet strike a soft patch and I plunge forward, headfirst into snow alarmingly deeper than anything I expected.

We know we have only a few minutes to shoot before the helicopter returns and yet the best full frontal view of K2 is almost half a mile away. Led by two army guides, who are actually stationed up here, we make our way through the snow. We try to hurry but it's hopeless, as the surface is melting in the sun. Every now and then people ahead of me drop down to their waist as if a trap door had opened beneath them.

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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 21: Skardu to Concordia
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Concordia
  • Book page no: 46

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