Tuesday, May 2, 2017

First icefall practice

Today John (the climber who came in a week before me) and I practiced our climbing and rappelling skills in the icefall. The icefall is a massive glacier which looks like a huge jumble of house sized ice cubes.  Glaciers act essentially like a river only frozen and in slow motion. To make our way through this river the "ice fall doctors", the top tier of Sherpa climbers, set the course based on their knowledge and experience. The way through the icefall not only changes every year is re-routed within a climbing season a number of times due to movement in the icefall. I can't hear it popping and cracking each night plus the occasional avalanche each day when the sun comes up. These are normally not an issue. 

Typically people have a rest day before tackling icefall training but Conan, the guide who has been with me the whole time, felt I was ready. It was great fun but I sure did get winded climbing the vertical ice walls without an ice axe. I've done the least of this kind of climbing so I relied more on strength than skill, which is not a good thing. Regardless both John and I got good marks and zipped through the course since there were only two of us.

In the afternoon I rested. I also got to meet the two private climbers who were coming down from their second rotation. So now I've met the whole team. 

Here's a shot of me ascending one of the easier walls.  Plenty of good spots for foot placement. The hard ones are those that are flat, vertical sheets of rock hard ice. Bleck.