October 29 - Chasing the Sherpas to Camp 2
Okay, I’ve got a dispatch for you today from Camp 1. This is the 29th of October. Garry Porter, David Burger and myself are stopping briefly here. We will be a Camp 2 in just a short while, early to mid-afternoon today.
I decided to call you from here just to report on the Icefall and the general feeling as we move up the mountain. First of all, absolutely clear skies. Besides the three climbing members I just mentioned, five of the climbing Sherpas are moving up to occupy Camp 2 and of course will begin working on the upper route as early as tomorrow.
Nwang Pasang is the sixth climbing Sherpa and he has been at Camp 2 with the cook Shom throughout this past storm period. We know how high winds can come up and I would never leave one guy up there to hold that camp.
Fortunately however, we lost no tents anywhere, even up on the Lhotse Face on those tiny little ledges where our tents are situated. Shom has good visibility and reports our tents are still there.
Speaking of visibility, interesting on the ridge tops today I see evidence of light wind transport, some winds, low on the Nuptse Ridge coming out of about the southwest. Then higher up towards Lhotse again there is some light wind transport coming from the north, almost the opposite direction.
But the real key for us now is that we do not hear the wind. We did not hear it last night, nor did Shom from Camp 2 hear the roar. So as we moved through the Icefall today, we’re encouraged that maybe the winds are turning down in the right direction.
Speaking of the Icefall, I ought to mention, since this was almost certainly our last trip up through the Icefall with one more trip down coming after our summit attempt, interesting route this year. I made note on our last trip that we had 15 ladder stations, in other words 15 positions or areas in the Icefall where ladders were used, and we had used 23 ladders in those 15 positions. The Icefall is always changing, don’t kid yourself. Every 24 hours something’s different. Ang Nima and the crew come up here all the time to make adjustments and fix things.
Today, there were 16 ladder sections using 26 sections of ladder. Of course, sometimes it’s just one ladder spanning a crevasse or one ladder on a short headwall of ice. And sometimes ladders are latched together. The most notable ladder we’re dealing with at this point is a 5-span ladder (five 2-meters sections of aluminium ladder) latched together that goes not exactly vertical but on a steep incline over a crevasse and up a serac. The last time we came down the Icefall, we noticed there were only four sections there so we know you kind of had to jump off the bottom ladder. The area seems to have collapsed even more and Ang Nima and the crew fixed it with a fifth section and it was quite interesting coming across that today.
Everyone did great through the Icefall, it was an enjoyable day because it was sunny but not too hot. Garry well remembers, weeks and week ago when we first got here I made the comment that you don’t have any business on this mountain if you can’t go through the Icefall in five hours. And in fact, all of our trips through the Icefall have been in five hours or less and that’s for safety.
You’ve got to move fast when there are things around you that are moving like that. We also do not travel together through the Icefall. We keep one another in site, we keep visibility and we have radios but we don’t bunch up and walk right together through the Icefall for obvious safety reasons.
We’ve got a good feeling now being at the bottom of the Western Cwm. We’re chasing the Sherpas who are ahead of us of course. We’ll be at Camp 2 tonight and we’ll certainly report to you how the route looks up the Lhotse Face when we get a good look at it tomorrow.