Still gripping his axe, Eliot hung over the water. We pulled him back from being crushed. He didn't whine, whimper or scream out; there was no indication of his pain besides the funny way he rolled his next cigarette.
Alfred Mummery wrote in his 19th century classic book, My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus, "It has frequently been noticed that all mountains appear doomed to pass through the three stages: An inaccessible peak - The most difficult ascent in the Alps - An easy day for a lady." While the misogynistic temper of this famous quote is obsolete, its more general point seems to ring true.
The brothers climbed the face. At 4478 meters they stood, triumphant and utterly spent. And yet, there was probably some quiet, persistent voice whispering an unpleasant reminder in the back of their minds: Nice job. Now get down there and ride back home.