So now it starts to get a whole lot more serious as we begin our rotation climb up the mountain hopefully to reach as high as Camp 3 before returning to base camp, this will take 4 to 5 days to accomplish all being well so I’ll not be posting on here for a few days until I return from the rotation - if I don’t post again you can assume I’ve f**cked it up!
Our past hikes into the Khumbu icefall have been ‘dry runs’ so to speak, to get us used to the terrain, the conditions, the pace and test our skills on the ropes and ladders and generally how we react and cope in one of the worlds most dangerous places.
We were briefed by Mingma David this morning after breakfast on what to pack, what the Sherpas will carry and our expected breakfast and departure time, etc so everyone has been busy in their tents sorting their equipment out. It’s no easy task given the very changing conditions on the mountain, what we will need over the next few days and what we need to leave at Camp 2 so that it can be accessed on our summit push (summit suit, high altitude sleeping bags, gloves, etc, etc) - it’s so easy to pack more than you need (extra socks, extra thermal layer, etc) but you have to be disciplined as every bit of weight matters when you’re carrying it up to these altitudes for hours on end - hence my iPad isn’t coming! BUT leave the wrong things behind and it could be a matter of life or death or certainly fingers and toes. The Sherpas wander from tent to tent checking with each team member what they are packing and reminding them what they should be packing and everyone is asking everyone else what they are packing as paranoia sets in you’ve missed something.
To get to Camp 1 we will be hiking for around 9 to 10 hours setting off at 2.30am, so we will be trudging out of basecamp with numerous layers on, head torches and hopefully a decent breakfast inside of us into the icy night. Once we get there we will rest and sleep and then the next day, all being well, hike to Camp 2 which is a much more established base high on the mountain. This will be our main rest point on this rotation and we will spend 2 to 3 nights here acclimatising and at some point hike to Camp 3 where we will spend around 3 hours to gain acclimatisation and then return to Camp 2, it will depend on how the team is physically if we return to base camp the same day or rest and return the day after - either way it has to be during the night when we pass through the icefall in order to be safest and avoid, as much as is possible, avalanches and serac ice falls.
A few other teams from other guide companies have already started their rotations too so it remains to be seen how busy the icefall is but the overall climber numbers are down on last years record breaking year so I’m hopeful we won’t hit too much traffic going up other than that of our own creation as we will be an overall team off 20 going up so no doubt will create our own slow points when we hit jumar and ladder points along the way.
This afternoon we try and rest/sleep as much as we can to be ready for the rotation, its hard with sun beating down on our tents in base camp but we do what we can, then it will be an early dinner and a few hours sleep before we head out.
You should be able to follow my route online at https://share.garmin.com/stevegdavis
Check back in a few days to see how it all went.