We are all heading down to BC
Julian and Jamie slept at 7680m, great acclimatization
2 May - North Col carry
Before breakfast we had our second puja for Paul, Julian, Temba and Namgyal, conducted by Dawa. The weather was good.
Then Namgyal, Dawa and Temba did a load carry to North Col, Julian and myself set off later to stay the night. We reached the col no problem and slept reasonably well.
Moe is still at BC, Sukhi at ABC, and Paul at ABC hoping to take at least a day trip to North Col.
3 May - North Col acclimatization
Julian relaxed and Jamie should have. I set off to potentially carry a load up to 7700m but didn't have my down suit, and the wind was chilling. I could feel my upper cheeks and nose were getting cold, despite a fleece neck gaiter pulled up over part of my face; where was my essential gorilla mask, or rather the last vital bit? (A windstopper fleece helmet with removeable nose piece that covers everything expect where glasses/goggles go; see the photos of me on top of Cho Oyu and Broad Peak).
The other vital in the equation was where was I going to go to the toilet? On the snow slopes above the North Col there is NO shelter; in those sorts of winds, there are other places you don't want frostbite! So I turned back.
Julian and I dug out a great tent platform, and put up the tent for the sherpas coming up, perhaps our karma was good enough; they had brought up my down suit and in one pocket was the last vital bit of my gorilla mask.
Dawa, Namgyal and Temba stayed overnight in preparation for a load carry to 8300m.
4 May - 7680m!
The sherpas upped early and shouldered loads for 8300m. Now that sounds normal and the sherpas carry loads there all the time, but 8300m is higher than all except 5 mountains on the planet; they are carrying loads (yes, 12-18kgs) HIGHER than the 8201m summit of Cho Oyu! Quite a feat, especially as they do it without (additional) oxygen.
Just to let you know who is who, Julian and myself set off, this time me with a down suit on, and past the last tents there was NO wind! So, leaving my pack there, I returned to the tent and exchanged my down suit for a gore-tex one.
Initially the weather was perfect but by midday it started to snow, semi-wet snow which it shouldn't be at this altitude, and thankfully relatively little wind.
We had scored some of the best tent spots at North Col thanks to sherpa friends in the Arun Camp; at C2 we were not so lucky, and both on the radio and asking sherpas coming down it was obvious there were no spots left on the moderately steep and rocky ridge. Julian, initially strong to the end of the snow at around 7600m, was tiring and we needed shelter fast. So we put up the tent I was carrying on a flat space, obviously roped off for another expedition, but we only planned to spend a night or two at most there.
Luckily the wind was low, and I could shake the snow out of the tent. We had shelter and soon had a stove going. We had met Temba a little lower, who had dumped his load at 7900m the last of the Camp 2 tents, knowing him and his gear weren't up the 8300m carry.
Namgyal and Dawa stopped at our tent for drinks and snacks on their way down, obviously very tired from their carry to 8300m.
So now we have some oxygen, a tent and some gas at 8300m. The tent isn't put up as the winds will simply tear it apart soon, instead it is all stored in a sack covered with rocks, many rocks.
The sherpas descended to ABC, myself and Julian as you may remember are camping at 7680m. One of the sherpas passing by pointed out that was 'his' expedition's tent spot, I replied in Nepali that we would leave it free tomorrow; "fine, this is the mountains", he obviously understood our predicament; and then asked who our climbing sirdar was, and with the name Dawa Gelje, he smiled and said OK.
Bonus!! Later on the radio Dawa mentioned the sherpa was a good friend, and he unconditionally gave us one of the best camping spots at C2 with room for 2-3 tents as several of his expedition members were obviously not going to make it up (and hence I haven't mentioned the company name or the sirdar's name).
I have to say it again, Dawa is one of the most respected sherpas on the mountain.
5 May - ABC and North Col
With the help of some paracetemol I slept well, Julian less comfortably, but still OK give the altitude; many people can't sleep at all up here. I managed to eat; Julian only some soup and a chocolate bar.
I woke with a shaft of sunlight just above my head, coming thru the double open vent. The tent inner was covered with ice crystals but there was no wind at all to shake them onto us. We had woken to an absolutely perfect morning, snow all around us and a glorious view that left me gasping.
We had in the back of our minds thought about a quick, lots of oxygen, summit attempt from here but with the amount of snow lying around, perhaps 20-25cms, climbing the rock easily was out of the question; instead we headed down, Julian for ABC, myself for North Col where perhaps Paul was heading.
What about that helicopter?
We packed the tent and gas, leaving it in a sack tied down and covered with rocks; it could be a long time until we reach this point again.
Later Paul radioed and mentioned that the afternoon snowfall was a bit much and he was instead in the comfort of ABC. I wasn't complaining, brewing up to recover from slight dehydration and comfortably watching the snow falling with an iPod Shuffle playing away what might otherwise be boredom.
6 May - ABC to BC
After the Everest south side serac collapse I have to say we are ALL OK!
Both our paid weather forecast and the free ExplorersWeb forecast predict that the jet stream is about to arrive on the summit of Everest in the next day or two, and is here to stay for a substantial time.
I arrived back to ABC to lots of organising. One of the 'KE' sherpas came in with a large hole in the his tooth; Julian isn't a dentist but with our emergency kit cleaned and filled it, we hope it will hold. Meanwhile Jamie played doctor for a doctor as the diarrhea's out here need local knowledge.
The jet stream is the reason Julian, Sukhi, Da'Oangchu and Paul have headed to base camp today. Myself and the other sherpas will probably head down tomorrow, to reunite with Moe, who has been at BC for a while.
The whole team is now at BC, so they will only get their emails tomorrow when Jamie arrives there.
Team KE leaders
More than half the team are at BC, the rest are heading down tomorrow. Same with the emails.
© Jamie McGuinness - Project-Himalaya.com - 2005