Captain Muller's team broke camp early in the morning, halfway up perilous Mount Gravatt. It would have been a difficult climb even without the mountain's unique nature. That just made it more of a challenge, and more prestige for the one who reached the summit first. If Muller had any say in it, that would be him, even if nobody could say for sure how tall the mountain would be when he got there.
They packed their tents, took up their climbing poles and consulted their gravimeters, which let them see, in theory, gravitational anomalies approaching before they became a problem. The immediate path looked clear, so they set off.
But barely an hour into the day's climb, they hit a snag. Smith, in the lead, held up his hand and stopped the climbing party with a "whoah there". The easiest path started to look less certain on the gravimeters, and to go around would either mean backtracking to find another way, or attempting to scale a cliff. Muller was determined to go as far and fast as he could - preferably further than anyone had ever gone up Mount Gravatt - but the cliff was clearly dangerous. He stood stroking his thick moustache for a minute, pondering his options, then placed his hands on his hips to face the rising sun. The rest of the team suspected he struck these heroic poses on purpose, to try and be more inspiring. Half the time it worked. The other half, it just looked ridiculous.
This was one of the inspiring times.
Turning dramatically to his men, he pointed up the cliff face and instructed them to pair off and ready their pitons, as they knew he would. Smith went first, tethered to Muller, and he climbed quickly and skillfully. The other climbers could see his breath in the cold air, a sign of how hard he was working. As he crested the top, they gave a cheer, but he called back down to them that there was room only for two men up there at the most. Most of the party would have to turn back while the rest completed the climb without them. Since Smith was already up and Muller led the expedition, everyone knew who would be going on.
They opened packs and exchanged some contents, giving Muller the best of the remaining food, some spare batteries and one smaller oxygen cylinder. He thanked his men with genuine gratitude, then turned to face the cliff as Smith prepared to reel in the rope from above. The six who would be left behind watched Muller climb up to meet Smith before they waved a farewell and turned to head back down the mountain again.
Mokalus of Borg
PS - Mount Gravatt East and Upper Mount Gravatt to follow.
PPS - I might have to speed up on this Brisbane writing project at some point.