Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Final prep for first rotation

This was our last rest day before heading up the mountain for some real climbing. I can't wait to get going. 

After breakfast Conan, John and I headed out for a quick 2 hour hike of a nearby peak. I still get winded going up but have definitely improved since I first arrived in base camp. At the top of the peak it was rather cold and windy but we were treated with incredible views.  In the picture below, you can see Base Camp spread out across the left side of the glacier. I was told the tents likely stretch across a mile to give you some perspective. The large mountain towards the center is the west ridge of Everest. The black peak behind that is the summit peak of Everest. And the pointy mountain in the foreground on the right is Nuptse.

After our short hike and lunch we discussed logistics with Conan for my first move up the mountain. What to bring up.  What the Sherpa carry vs. what we carry.  I will have a Sherpa, named Lakpa, with me every step of the way.  Then we packed and laid out everything so that when it was time to go we could be ready in very short order.  We will wake up at 2:00am and head out at 2:30am.  The reason for this early start is to get through the icefall before the suns hits it and the potential for avalanches increase. 

The plan is for us to go through the icefall tomorrow, May 4, and on to Camp 1. We will rest there for 2 nights to get used to that altitude, approximately 19,685 feet. Then we will move up to Camp 2 at 21,000 feet and stay for 3 nights. During the day we will take short hikes to again help with the acclimatization process. On May 8 we will go up and  "touch" Camp 3 at 23,725 feet and then come back down to sleep in Camp 2. We will come all the way back down on day 6, which is May 9.  As info, I will not be able to update my blog during that time so check the Madison Mountaineering website for updates. 

I feel ready, the weather is a bit on the windy side but good, and I am excited to go higher. Wish me luck!

Ladder practice

Today, Tuesday, John and I hit the icefall again for more training. This time the focus was getting comfortable crossing ladders as there will be many of these spanning crevasses and steep sections of the icefall. We practiced going up and down, low angle and then high angle, as well as flat to the ground.  There are a number of techniques to master with ladders making use of ascenders, carabiners, ropes, proper foot placement, etc.  We again rappelled from the tops of "icebergs".  My Dad and Mom got me into Boy Scouts early on which provided my first exposure to rappelling and I've enjoyed that ever since. God blessed me with good balance so this was all 100% fun for me. I'm very excited to get out in the real stuff.  Fun as it will be, it can take 5-12 hours to get through the icefall and to Camp 1 based on the main climbing group that has already done it. It will be work. But fun work. 

So far, knock on wood, I am healthy. I would guess 1/2 to 2/3rds of the team has some illness from a cold to respiratory infection to our poor chef who tore some rib muscles from persistent coughing. They even have a name for this, the Khumbu Cough, after this region of Nepal. I'm a bit of a germaphobe - ask Lauri or my coworkers (Vicki 😉) - so maybe that has paid off here. As far as sleep, it is improving. Last night was my best by far with 5 hours. Boy that felt good!