"You guys know how to cook?" Teru asked, chewing on a chunk of jerky.
Doug and I looked at each other and laughed.
"Right," said Teru. Thenceforth, Teru the photographer was also Teru the base-camp cook. He was good—dicing onions, experimenting with spices—and each meal was better than anything us two dirtbags could have cooked up with a full kitchen. That day Doug and I reconned above the waterfall, following a steep-walled drainage up to the snow line. Beyond was a spiky wilderness of white. We couldn't see Koh-i-Bardar—"Mountain of the Entrance," in Wakhi, and the peak we hoped to climb—but we knew it was back there somewhere.
That evening, Doug and I decided to attempt our sight-unseen peak in a single, unsupported push, while Teru waited at camp with Sher Ali.
We busted out early the following morning with so much energy we could barely keep up with our legs. We had the same pace and made swift progress. By noon we were crossing brilliant snowfields, passing beneath Teton-like granite spires. By 12:15 we were marooned.
In the space of 15 minutes, the temperature had warmed just enough for the four-inch crust to soften to the point that it wouldn't support body weight. It was like breaking through ice. Suddenly we were both wallowing chest-deep, fracturing off chunks of crust as we tried to crawl back onto the surface.
"Time to camp," said Doug.