Posted on April 29th, 2012 13 comments
Everest Base Camp Living!
Greetings from Everest Base Camp. Since last we checked in we had just descended from C2 after sleeping a few nights up high. Since then we have spent the last few days resting, hydrating, consuming lots of calories, and in general regenerating our bodies and planning for our next trip up high.
The days spent at Everest Base Camp are an excellent excuse to relax and be lazy. One of the joys of expedition climbing is having time to sit and enjoy a good book, write, and take some time to simply relax “guilt free” which has become an increasingly rare commodity in our modern society. We also find a renewed appreciation for the simple things in life such as an unhurried hot shower or putting on a clean pair of socks and a fresh t-shirt for the first time in several days.
Weather has been pretty typical for April in the Himalayas. Night time temperatures dip into the teens or low 20s. During the daytime the mornings are clear, sunny, and usually very pleasant with little to no wind. Most afternoons see the skies turn partly cloudy. Occasionally it will cloud over enough for light snow to fall. The ridge lines above 7000m or 24,000′ have been getting hit by strong winds of 60+ mph, which is typical for this time of year. Recently at Base Camp we have seen the first signs of the coming spring. Temperatures are starting to gradually warm up and the sun is peaking over the ridge tops a little earlier each morning.
After several days of rest and preparation we are now ready to make our next trip above Base Camp. These forays we make to higher camps are referred to as “rotations”. Here is the plan for our next rotation:
April 28: Climb to C2 (6495m/21,309′)
April 29: Rest at C2, small hike to stretch our legs
April 30: Hike to the base of the Lhotse Face, return to C2
May 1: Climb the Lhotse Face to C3 (7406m/24,300′), sleep here
May 2: Return to C2
May 3: Return to Base Camp
A special thanks to everybody for following along with us through this blog. For all of you who have written words of encouragement in response to our posts on this blog please know we have read every single one of your comments. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We will plan on checking in again after returning from our next rotation up high.
Below are a few pictures from the last few days of Base Camp living:
Posted on April 23rd, 2012 10 comments
Greetings from Everest Base Camp! We are safely back here after spending four nights at Camps 1 & 2. On April 19 we had a pre dawn breakfast and left EBC at 4:45am. We navigated a short way by headlamp then put on our crampons and began climbing through the Khumbu Icefall. After several previous acclimatization climbs we had become a very efficient climbing team and it showed as we made it past the Icefall and all the way to Camp 1 in a very respectable 4 1/2 hours arriving at 9:15..Our goal by sleeping at Camps 1 & 2 was to continue the acclimatization process by living for a few days at higher elevation. We spent the rest of April 19 doing just that. We hydrated, read books, and generally relaxed as our bodies adjusted to this new elevation. We had previously reported Camp 1 to be at 6120m. After being there we are readjusting that elevation to 6100m/20,012′, which was still the highest altitude we had reached during the expedition up until then..On April 20 we climbed to Camp 2 at 6495m/21,309′ then returned to Camp 1. Our route to Camp 2 takes us farther up the Khumbu Glacier through an area we call the Western Cwm (pronounced “coom”). The terrain levels out significantly over what it is in the Icafall. We crossed a few ladders that bridged deep crevasses but overall found the route to be straightforward posing no real problems. The scenery in the Western Cwm is spectacular. Dominating our view was Lhotse, the 4th highest mountain in the world at 8516m/27,939′. Dramatically rising above the Western Cwm almost 6000′ to its summit is the Lhotse Face. Later in the expedition our route from Camp 2 to 3 will take us directly up this face. The summit of Mt. Everest also reveals itself (to the left of Lhotse) during our climb to Camp 2..The Western Cwm is a big valley with walls rising several thousand feet on three sides. Solar radiation in the Cwm creates a dramatic rise in air temperature that can make climbing through it uncomfortably hot. To combat this we left Camp 1 at 6:45am while the Cwm was still in shade. By the time the sun reached us after 8am we were well on our way to Camp 2. Arriving at our destination three hours after departing we relaxed, hydrated, and had an early lunch before returning to Camp 1..On April 21 we moved up to Camp 2. We had received a weather forecast calling for the jet stream to make a significant drop in elevation which would threaten to give us high winds over these days we had planned to spend at Camp 2. ”Weather forecasts” are just that though; they’re forecasts. To rely solely on them without using good mountaineering sense and judgment is a good way to shortchange your climbing team. Also, we have no idea how hard the winds would blow. Given that we had all the clothing and equipment to withstand inclement weather we went ahead with our plans to move to Camp 2. Winds went from calm to a steady 20-25 mph. This added a wind chill to the air temperature but nothing we weren’t prepared to handle..Winds stayed steady all day and all night with occasional gusts hitting 60+ mph. On April 22 we decided to stay with our plan to take an acclimatization hike towards the base of the Lhotse Face. Our goal was to try to hit 22,000′/6700m. We put on our clothing layers and ventured out late morning from Camp 2. With wind gusts ranging from 10-30 mph (and occasionally stronger) we roped up on the glaciated terrain and had a nice hike. Only a handful of climbers have ventured this high so far this season. The winds made the hike colder and more strenuous but this only served to add additional benefit to our acclimatization. After hitting our intended altitude we descended back to Camp 2. Winds continued for the rest of the day and evening..On April 23 we woke at 3:45am to pack up and descend to Base Camp. We wanted to hit the Khumbu Icefall in the early morning hours. After breakfast we put on our climbing harnesses and crampons, saddled up our rucksacks, and left Camp 2. Early morning cold temperatures coupled with wind made for raw conditions as we started walking at 5:15am. We moved well going downhill though and we were through the Icefall and back to Base Camp at 9:00am..Warmer temperatures and relatively thicker air greeted us here. Our plan now is to rest for the next couple days. We will plan on moving higher and hopefully climbing the Lhotse Face on our next trip up. We’re currently planning on leaving on April 27..Here are a few pictures from our adventures over the last few days:
Posted on April 16th, 2012 8 commentsSince arriving at Base Camp (5365m/17,600′) our primary focus has been to start the acclimatization process in preparation for moving higher on the mountain. Acclimatizing is the term used for the human body as it adjusts to higher elevation. As one ascends the available oxygen diminishes. By the time we hit approximately 5500m or 18,000′ we have half the available oxygen as at sea level. The summit of Everest (8850m/29,035′) has 21% of the O2 that’s at the ocean. The human body’s reaction to living at higher elevation is to produce more red blood cells in an effort to more efficiently transport oxygen through our systems. Climbing higher and returning to Base Camp helps this process nicely.We have now taken several acclimatizing day hikes and have had great success. Each time we took another hike we felt stronger. One hike we took was to Camp 1 of a nearby mountain called Pumo Ri (7165m/23,507′). This striking peak sits on the border of Nepal and Tibet on the opposite side of the Khumbu Glacier from where Mt. Everest is located. Hiking to C1 on Pumo Ri not only got us up to 5640m/18,503′ but we got a nice view of the route where we will soon be climbing.We also climbed into the infamous Khumbu Icefall. The Khumbu Glacier begins at an altitude of over 6700m or 22,000′. It flows down past our Base Camp (we’re camped on the Khumbu Glacier) to its terminus at about 4900m or 16,000′. There’s an area above Base Camp where two ridge lines on either side of the glacier angle towards each other forcing it to flow through a more narrow corridor. Right at this location the terrain steepens considerably. This causes the glacier to do two things: (1) speed up its flow to about 3′-4′ per day, and (2) break up its smooth flow into large ice blocks that weigh several tons and crevasses that can be 30m or 100′+ deep. This feature on a glacier is called an “icefall”..To navigate through the Khumbu Icefall climbers must weave their way around and over countless large ice blocks and cross ladders that are anchored in the snow/ice to span the large crevasses. We took three trips into the Khumbu Icefall. Each successive time we went higher in elevation offering us the chance to further acclimatize. This also gave us the opportunity to practice and get efficient with climbing techniques that we use as we climb higher on Mt Everest. Climbing efficiently is essential for energy conservation on big mountains, and critical for a safe and successful ascent of Mt Everest. Each time through we analyzed how the day went and identified areas that we could work on to help make the next trip more efficient..Our last climb up the Khumbu Icefall was on Aprl 16. We made it to an altitude of 6050m/19,849′. This brought us all the way through the Icefall to within about 30 minutes from Camp 1. After a quick break for water and food we descended back to Base Camp. We did the round trip in a very respectable 7 hours 40 minutes. With the success of this latest climb we are now ready to explore and sleep higher on Mt Everest!.Our plan for the next few days (weather permitting) is to sleep as high as Camp 2 then return to Base Camp to rest and recuperate:.April 17-18: Rest/prepare food and equipment for being at Camps 1 & 2.April 19: Move to Camp 1 (6120m/20,078′), sleep here.April 20: Climb to Camp 2, sleep at Camp 1.April 21: Climb to Camp 2 (6495m/21,309′), sleep here.April 22: Climb to base of the Lhotse Face (6750m/22,145′), sleep at C2.April 23: Return to Base Camp..We plan on spending a few days resting at Base Camp then we will climb back to C2 and try to sleep above this camp. To put us in position for a summit attempt we will establish Camp 3 at 7406m/24,300′ and Camp 4 at 7955m/26,100′. More on these camps later. Stay tuned….We’re feeling strong and healthy as we prepare to make our move towards Camps 1 & 2. A special thank you to all our family and friends for your continued support. We will plan on checking in again after April 23!.Below are a few pictures of our adventures climbing in the Khumbu Icefall: