Everest VII: A Record in Touching Distance
Gambling on the good weather holding, the team dash up the mountain to get themselves in as good a position as possible for their summit attempt.
Everest Day 26, 10-May-2018
Back up to Camp 2, but still waiting.
Today Jon and I came back up to Camp 2. The weather is forecast to improve in the coming days so we thought we’d come back up where we’re slightly better positioned for a summit attempt. However, with strong winds persisting today the rope fixers weren’t able to make any progress so that summit attempt will still be a few days off at least. Tomorrow will be another day of waiting, although this time in Camp 2.
Coming up from Basecamp to Camp 2 today took Jon and I just under 4.5hrs. I felt like I was operating at about 70%, just plodding along keeping the heart rate down and breathing under control. It felt quite easy, but I also felt I’d start to struggle quickly if I had to pick the pace up at all. Last year I did Basecamp to Camp 2 in under 4hrs. I didn’t feel I could do that today, or if I did I’d be working quite hard and compromise my recovery as we head higher. It is frustrating knowing I am weaker and more fatigued now than what I was this time last year when preparing for the Lhotse summit, but I guess that’s the price you pay for 4 months on the road. Anyway, not long now, just need to hang in there.
It was interesting coming up through the Icefall today. It has changed quite a bit in the last week; a number of small slots which we use to walk over without thinking about have opened into reasonable crevasses requiring a large step to get across. It’s ok with my longer than average legs but I’m guessing some others may be starting to struggle. It won’t be long until some more ladders will need to be put in to bridge the gaps.
Bedtime now. Should get a good 12hrs sleep tonight and then a quiet day around Camp 2 tomorrow.
Everest Day 27, 11-May-2018
Camp 2. Another day of waiting.
Today Jon, Tim, Rupert and I just stayed in Camp 2, again waiting for conditions to improve up high.
The weather in Camp 2 today was a real mixed bag: sunny, windy, snowy and everything in between. One minute I was lying in my tent sweltering in the sun, next minute it clouded over and I was diving back into my sleeping bag. It is probably the hardest thing about being in the mountains, it’s either too hot or too cold, never any happy middle ground.
Personally, I still feel pretty ordinary but have resigned to the fact that I won’t feel 100% again until I am back home in my own bed, back in Perth’s thick clean air, back in my familiar surrounds. It is near impossible to properly recover in the cold, high altitude environment which I am currently in, not to mention the questionable hygiene. But I am confident I still have enough left in the tank to get up and down this last remaining hill.
Rupert and I are both on tight schedules so the continuing strong winds and delays are starting to cause havoc. Rupert, an impressive young bloke from Britain, is trying to do a double summit of Everest. His objective is to summit once from the South then head back to Kathmandu, race around to Tibet and summit again from the North. An ambitious goal and needs an early summit on the South for it to work out.
For me…. well you all know my time limits. When we first arrived in Basecamp and completed our acclimatisation we had heaps of time up our sleeves. Now it is getting very tight. I only have 4 days left to summit and achieve my own goal of 7in4. Considering it will take us 3 days on a normal itinerary to reach the summit from Camp 2, I really only have 1 day spare left. I can’t believe after 4 months and all we’ve overcome in that time that it is now coming down to this. The next few days will be telling.
Everest Day 28, 12-May-2018
Camp 2 to Camp 3.
This morning we had a leisurely start at Camp 2. Had breakfast and hung around waiting for the latest weather forecast and news on rope fixing. There’s still nothing definitive but the weather is looking better and there may be a chance of something happening in the coming days. So with that Jon and I decided to head up to Camp 3.
We packed up and left Camp 2 shortly after 10:00. Again the weather was a real mixed bag. Overcast with sunny patches, but very gusty. When the wind died down it was actually quite pleasant, but never lasted long until the next gust.
Coming up today Jon and I both had reasonably heavy packs which made for tough going. Not knowing quite what the coming days will hold, we brought up all our personal kit plus enough food for about five days each. We desperately hope we won’t be up here that long, but want to be prepared in case we do need to sit and wait for a day or two. Despite the heavy bags, we made pretty good time and reached Camp 3 just after 14:00, about 4hrs from Camp 2. We are now comfortable in our tent, melting snow for water and about to start on dinner.
In the tent there were quite a few feathers floating around. You always get a few stray feathers from all the articles of down clothing but this was more than normal. I eventually tracked down the culprit; a large tear in the back of my down suit. I have no idea how it got there. Thankfully I had a few repair patches for my air mattress so was able to apply one of those to plug it up. Not ideal but at least it is no longer leaking feathers.
Lying in the tent you can hear the sounds from the surrounding tents. Amongst the voices there is a chorus of coughing. I guess the cold, dry air is affecting most people.
Jon and I both feel reasonably good, all things considered. Tomorrow we’ll continue up to Camp 4 and then reassess from there.
Everest Day 29, 13-May-2018
Camp 3 to Camp 4.
Today Jon, Pemba and I made our way from Camp 3 up to Camp 4 at the South Col. An interesting climb over several famous landmarks including the upper section of the Lhotse Face, the Yellow Band, the Geneva Spur and into the South Col. Upon arriving at the South Col, we pitched our tent then first priority was melting snow to rehydrate. Climbing up today it was incredibly hot. There was barely a breath of wind and with the full sun reflecting off all the snow around us it was like an oven. And to make it worse we were in full down suits hence the importance of rehydrating when we got into camp.
We did ok today but were slowed by a few numpties on the trail. When these people realise they are causing a traffic jam, you’d think they’d have the courtesy to find a safe spot to step aside and let others pass. But no…. (I’m looking at you Mr Blue Helmet). Now I don’t mind waiting when I have to, but what I find particularly disrespectful is that these people are holding up the climbing Sherpas and high altitude porters who are ferrying massive loads between camps. With the workload they are already doing, they shouldn’t have to stand in queues as well.
On a positive note, with near perfect weather today the rope fixers made it to the summit this afternoon. So the route to the top is now open.
We are now resting at Camp 4, for a few hours at least. Our plan is to set off this evening aiming to reach the top early tomorrow morning. Time to get this finished off!