I buried my pick-axe into the heavy white mass of snow with all my might before dragging it out. My breath came out labourious white puffs. My nose was numb and I could not feel my feet. Wiping sweat away from my forehead, I nestled my pick-axe into the icy pit before me once more and dragged it out. There –I had finally finished digging my snow hole. I stumbled into its chilly depths and collapsed, my tense muscles trembling. I rubbed my legs in an attempt to get the circulation flowing. I had made a terribly stupid, impulsive decision and I was now paying the price for it, isolated in the vast, freezing mountain Diamir –the King of Mountains.
I am a well-known, seasoned alpinist from Slovenia. My name is Tomaz Humar. I have had my eyes set on scaling and conquering Diamir, also known as the Nanga Parbat, for a while now; however, when I arrived at the base camp the weather was irregular with threats of blizzards and snowstorms. Embarking on a trip to climb the 26,000 foot mountain in such weather would have been suicidal. Diamir after all does have the tallest rock and ice wall in the world, along with three vast rock faces. It has attracted and ended many climbers before me. I had been biding my time, waiting for the dangerous weather before I set out, but my departure was sped up by another alpinist: the American climber Steve House who, along with his partner, was also determined to reach the summit. In haste, I left early to scale the mountain, even in such life threatening conditions, for I wanted to be the winner in this race; a grave mistake indeed.
I encountered a couple days of good weather and favourable conditions initially. However, soon my thus far successful 6000 metre ascent was hampered by fog, drenching snowmelt and avalanches. I dug myself into a hole and radioed base camp and asked Nazir Sabir, President of the Alpine Club of Pakistan for a rescue helicopter. I waited for quite a few days. The helicopter could not reach me in such harsh conditions. After a few failed rescue attempts, I was sure that there was no hope and that I would surely perish, but then another attempt was made and proved successful. I was safe again. I owe my life to Lieutenant Colonel Rashidullah Baig and Major Khalid Amir Rana, my rescue pilots. Without the brave attempts of Sabir, Colonel Manzoor Hussain and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, I would have surely been a dead man. As for Steve House, he scaled Diamir and returned to Base Camp a month after my rescue, proving that haste is a complete waste, and that slow and steady wins the race. Oh, how I regret my decision now.