It is 3.45 in the morning. The alarm is ringing. At last. Being at 3,000m (9,842ft), altitude and sharing a dormitory with 10 mountaineers does not make for restful sleep. The night began long before I was tired. The air is thin and the sleep restless. I have been waiting for the alarm since 2.00am. But finally, we’re off: Get dressed, pack rucksack, eat breakfast, tie laces on my boots and then out into the fresh air.