We’re back from our first rotation! Greetings all from Gorak Shep. This morning, we made the hour long walk down from Everest Base Camp to the nearest collection of teahouses (some might call this a village) and decent internet connection.
The last week has seen us pass through the Khumbu Icefall for the first time, reaching Camp I, and then passing through the Western Cwm up to Camp II.
The Khumbu Icefall is by far the coolest mountaineering terrain I’ve been through. If it wasn’t so dangerous it would be a veritable Disneyland. Just think hours of crossing an obstacle course made of glacial ice, with ladders crossing crevasses and up ice walls , abseiling down ice cliffs, towering seracs everywhere. We left base camp at 3am in order to ensure we passed through the icefall early in the day and to ensure it is at it’s most stable, most serac collapses happen in the late afternoon due to the strength of the sun.
We initially were only intending to be at Camp I for 2 nights with a hike up to camp II the day before moving up to sleep there but some instability in the icefall which lead to a Sherpa being evacuated by chopper for Kathmandu (we understand he is recovering well) meant our Sherpa turned around that morning and we instead spent a third night using our spare rations at camp I.
In the extra day at Camp I, we created a massive dart board using crampons, ice axe, tent cord, and climbing slings for a fantastic game of Frisbee darts in the morning sunshine. The afternoon brought snow and winds so we returned to our tents and continued the process of melting snow and brewing up to stay hydrated while reading books. I’m currently reading Shoedog on the kindle.
We then moved up to camp II on Tuesday and settled into new digs:
At 6400m we all had an unsettled evening. I felt like I woke every 10 minutes all night but I know from my crazy dreams I got some sleep between the tossing and turning. Camp II is the other location on the mountain where we have a cook team and heated mess tent and we’ll be back and sleeping better next time!
On Wednesday we legged it back down the mountain, making it back to base camp in under 4 hours.
It’s absolutely amazing to have now experienced these mythical places: Khumbu Icefall & the Western Cwm. Now time to write the next article for Irish Times (check it out on Saturday morning for a more detailed account of our first rotation) and have a well deserved beer tonight in Gorak Shep before returning to Base Camp tomorrow and back up the mountain 3am Saturday.
I was on the mountain when the last article was published, check it out here:
Finally found a photo which has justified wearing these red sunglasses! I’m in my Cat 4 Julbo’s for the rest of the climb now.