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Hummel Meets the Mountain

The Story of
the First (and Only)
All-American, All-Cat
Himalayan Expedition

Part 6

Chapter 17: The Renewed Attack

At base camp the cats were warm and well fed. And, for the first time in weeks, Tabby allowed them the luxury of some catnip. She thought it would be necessary to keep morale up.

But the cats were still depressed. They had been only a days climb from the summit. But now, with this storm that might never end, they might lose their chance at reaching it. They would have to be off the mountain by June 5th in order to return to KATmandu safely. Time was running out.

Finally, after a week had passed, the storm abated and six cats started back up the mountain. All the cats wanted to be among the final six, but it was necessary to choose the strongest and fittest for the final push. Hummel and Winston were, of course, the leaders. Marley was fit and ready to go but Monster had caught a cold. And poor B.C. was still exhausted by her tremendous crack climb. They were replaced by Raison and Athena who had proved themselves in battling the storm to stock camp IVa. Sherpa Pahu rounded out the final team.

They managed to reach IVa in a single long day. They had lost alot of time but now there were six strong, well rested cats ready to concentrate on the last thousand feet. Then Winston made a bold suggestion.

"Why not", he mused, "go back to camp V? Maybe the storm has rebuilt the snow shelf. Maybe we can still have two routes up the mountain."

A difficult decision faced Hummel. His cats wanted two first ascents. But was it worth the risk of separating the party again? He knew full well the vagaries of the pre-monsoon season and the power of the storm had impressed him. Should he risk it all on a stab in the dark?

Expedition Leader Hummel made his decision and stood firm! "We must stay together."

Winston was clearly upset but he knew the wise choice had been made. He knew that a team must respect its leader. "OK Hummel, lets climb together."

In two days the cats were back at Camp VI above the crack. It had been decimated by the storm. No man or cat could have survived here and Hummels decision to go back for provisions had saved his team.

On the 26th, with only a few climbing days left before the monsoon, the cats moved to within several hundred feet of the summit. Camp VII was set here, intended as only a one night stop. But the weather would not cooperate. Another two days of storms raging relentlessly kept the cats pinned so near to their goal.

Hummel was vindicated; if the cats had separated they might not have survived the storm. As it was time was running out. In three days they would have to retreat, they would be forced to leave the mountain, summit or no.

But at 2 A.M. on the 30th a sudden quiet was evident...the storm had died. The cats prepared to move immediately. Night or day they had to use the good weather.

Two roped teams began climbing in parallel harmony. They were confident and moved quickly yet carefully. They were determined to reach the goal they had come so far for. And as the sun peeked out from the east, six cats stood on the summit of Macchupachere purring loudly and staring down at an endless sea of clouds. The fish tail had fallen.

Chapter 18: Victory!!!

The cats at base camp had their eyes on their telescoping camera continuously and they saw their compatriots reach the summit. It was time to rejoice for, although only 6 of them were at the top, it was a team that put them there. At that moment all the cats felt as if they were at the top of the mountain.

A few hours later, after their descent to Camp VI Hummel radioed to make the news official. "We've done it, we've done it" was all he said.

Support teams moved up the mountain to meet the summit climbers and help them clean the mountain. All the camps were dismantled as they descended. The mountain had to be left in the pure state that they had found it. "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but pawprints" was their motto.

All the cats and all the sherpas and porters greeted the summit team at base camp. It was now official. All had returned safely and the mountain was left as it had been. This was especially important in the case of base camp in the Santuary itself. This was a very fragile area and they wanted to preserve its ecology for climbing generations and Nepali people to come. They left the base camp area exactly as they had found it. There was not a trace of the expedition to be found.

Chapter 19: The Triumphant Return

Well you can just imagine the scene at the airport back home in Washington D.C. It seemed as if all the cats in the area were there. And of course the bald guy and the long haired girl proudly watched as the climbers walked down the ramp from the plane. As each team member came from the plane a loud cheer arose in greeting. But when Hummel came out the roar was amazing. He ran down and hugged all his friends over and over. You never heard so much purring in your life.

"Speech, speech," they all cried.

And Hummel gave a speech.

"The mountain was beautiful...and for us it came alive. We did not defeat her, we made peace. The dream I had has been realized although it took alot of hard work to do it. All of you helped make that dream come true and now you must know that, no matter how crazy it may seem, there is no dream that is unreachable. Especially when you have friends like these."

And they all rode home together in the bald guys van.


As always, they all sat still for a few minutes after the story. They remembered Hummel and thought of their great days together.

"Well that's it" said the Long Haired Girl finally, knowing full well what was to come.

"Can we go to Nepal and climb the Fishtail some day?" asked Crisfield.

"Well", started the Bald Guy, "after Hummel's expedition the Nepali people decided that one climb was enough for that sacred mountain. No one else, no cat nor person will climb the Fishtail again."

"But", he continued, softened by their sad faces, "maybe you can go to Nepal to climb another mountain. Things are different in Nepal now; there are many teahouses and lodges in the mountains. You will find the trip to be far easier and more pleasant than Hummel and his team. And wherever you stop to stay you can tell the people that you knew the great Hummel and they will be astounded. They will bring you into their living area and, in front of a great big fire, they will tell you, once again, the story of Hummel and the Mountain."

If you enjoyed the story of Hummel and theMountain please Let Us Know. What else would you like us to do with this story. We will be adding some great photos of the peaks and images of the expeditioneers. Check back to keep in touch with Hummel.

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