Eric Shipton was a reliable observer, but even he understimated the archs height. It is half
again higher than the 1,000 feet (305 meters) he judged it to be. It was more than we had
The most splendid moment was after we traversed the range of pinnacles and came out through
the other side knowing wed finally solved the mystery of the maze. It was as if
Shiptons spirit was there. More than any other day during the whole trip, Im sure he
would have loved to have been with us that day.
I have borderline claustrophobia, so being in the bottom of a very dark narrow canyon
with no idea how far we were from the exit was a lot to take. We knew we couldnt go
back and had no choice but to negotiate through this tight maze. I not only struggled with
the fear that the canyon would narrow to the point where we couldnt get through, but I
was worried about being caught in a flash flood.
While waiting for our driver to arrive, we sat outside the village of Mingyol in the dark.
After a while an elderly couple took pity on us and invited us inside. They wanted to give
us a meal, but what they offered was a bowl of flour so team member Nancy Feaginthe
only woman in our groupcould make noodles for all of us men. They were quite confused
by her inability to do so.
When the driver showed up, we had no choice but to leave. It was awkward because, without
an interpreter, we couldnt explain. We felt like we had been terrible guests.
Gordon and I went back a couple of days later, armed with an interpreter and gifts for the
couple. They explained that they had had no idea what sort of food we foreigners would eat,
and thought it best to give us the option of making whatever we wanted. We all had a good
laugh over it. The gifts and explanationsalong with stories about our adventure to the
archseemed to make up for our previous bad manners.