Katrina had not been happy with the idea, and said she could not do it alone. But Kieth and the others were adamant that they would make the attempt, and so Marcus sighed and volunteered as well.
“After all " said Jonas. “You’ll work up an appetite for later.” Spyder and Paul wanted to go too, much to Doc. Orlov’s annoyance.
“Now we babysit six” she hissed to Marcus, who shrugged. They made their preparations, with Katrina and Marcus carefully checking the vacc suits of the others, and were well supplied with rope and other equipment. Marcus noted that Katrina’s suit was customised for exactly this sort of use, and so that should give them some slight edge.
Jonas drove them to within a km of the base, and then drove back to the damaged vehicle: He would meet them here later – hopefully at this short range they should be able to communicate. here.
They had done some homework. The face was about 1.5 km high at its tallest point, which was one of two ridges sitting on a plateau about 1km high. Marcus had calculated about an hour and a half to get up on the plateau itself, which would basically leave little time for anything else once they got there. There was no way this bunch could get up to the top.
In fact it wasn’t as bad as he and Katrina had feared. A rough (very rough, in fact) trail had been cut into the rock on several stretches, making a sort of stairway. With the expert guidance of the two martians, they managed to reach the saddle between the two ridges after about 100 minutes. Marcus bit the bullet.
“This” he said, “Is as far as we can go. Alive that is.”
Kieth was not happy. After a tantrum he went off and sulked.
“Is simple arithmatic” said Katrina. “We have 260 minutes air left. Allow 30 minutes for your ceremony and 100 minutes to get down. Leaves 130 minutes. To get up ridge will take maybe another 100 minutes up, and nearly same down. Do this and you die seventy minutes before we get down to bottom. You choose, but Mr. Kaminski, myself and our colleagues – we go down.” Candice Marie went over to Kieth and started quietly pleading with him.
“Let’s just get on with it” said Trixibelle, showing some sense at least. Sky and Candice Marie joined her. Sulkily, Kieth wandered over.
“You got thirty minutes” said Marcus.